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Financial education Updated: 20 Sep 2019

Teaching children to manage money in a fun way

Summer vacation is the best time to include some fun and educational activities on financial literacy in children’s games. This way, almost without realizing it, little ones can learn basic concepts like saving and consumption that will be very useful to them in the future.

For children, summer is a long period of time without school that they can use to do what they like best: play. With all this free time, why not use it to suggest some games involving money?  This way, children will learn to take responsibility for their finances, will feel more independent and acquire essential knowledge to control costs and meet savings goals.

Shopping list 

Something as mundane as making a shopping list, can become a formidable challenge for kids that will make them feel important. In this activity they are in charge, so with help from an adult when needed, they make the shopping list based on the agreed budget  (very important!). This is a good time to teach them to calculate the cost, and especially, to separate what is necessary, from indulgences, inviting them to reflect on these two concepts.

Once the children have filled the shopping cart at the grocery store, it’s time to check their purchase. Were they rigorous or did they include a few impulse buys? If it’s the latter and they did so without going over budget, you can be a bit flexible and consider it a job well done. If they did go over budget, remind them of how important it is to stick to a budget and how going over budget could have negative consequences for family savings.

The allowance mural  

Allowances are normally children’s first experience with finances. Experts say they are a very useful tool to teach kids the importance of making a personal budget and knowing how to manage money.  In order for them to really be effectively, it is recommended to not only give them a certain amount of money, but give them the responsibility of paying for their things with it. For example, tell them that candy is not part of the family shopping list, so they will have to manage their money appropriately if they want to buy any.

To make this task more fun, and learn to manage income and expenses in the process, you can suggest making a mural with the total allowance and the things they buy with it. The mural can include anything: from pictures cut out of magazines to represent expenses to drawings they make themselves, or collages. The more colorful and attractive the better, but it should also be clear in order to correctly reflect how much money they receive, how much they spend, and how much is set aside for saving.

This activity aims to teach that money is finite, so they cannot buy everything they want. They must prioritize and save to reach a goal. 

Virtual games 

Cell phones or tablets can also be used to play with money, in a good way. There are many different apps and websites that offer games for kids to start to become familiar with basic financial concepts. For example, the Spanish National Securities and Market Commission (CNMV) and Bank of Spain’s educational platform Finance for Everyone, has a complete database of games in which the children can choose from multiple options: from completing a financial circuit to doing a series of crossword puzzles.

In the market of mobile apps, there are also very interesting options. One of them is Aprende a Contar el Dinero (Learn to Count Money) a game for Android designed for six to 10 year old children, so that they can become familiar with coins and their value. The app guides players with animation and voice recordings, rewarding their correct answers in different challenges posed to them. Also, it is interactive, which allows kids to interact with characters like the shopkeeper or vending machine.

Activities like this allow children to have fun as a family and acquire knowledge, almost without realizing it, that will be crucial to their future well-being.