Summer is supposed to be fun – but with the growing sense that our youngsters are not grasping the value of a dollar, parents are wise to use these months off from school to teach their kids about money management.
Not a problem – there are so many activities families can do in the summer that offer a wealth of opportunities to promote a little financial literacy, while keeping it fun for the kids.
Start The Conversation
According to a poll by BMO Financial, 96 per cent of adults surveyed feel it’s important to talk to their kids about money. However, only 18 per cent of those in the survey had actually done so.
Clearly parents believe it’s an important lesson to impart on their kids – but some just aren’t ready to broach the topic.
Here are five fun financial literacy activities for kids that introduce the concept of spending and saving.
Get Money Smart With Games
There’s a growing crop of computer, smartphone and tablet games that can keep kids amused and teach them about money at the same time. Many of these games are out of the U.S. — so be warned. But one Canadian game for the iPad that will help while away some long car drives is RBC’s Learning Money with Leo. It includes a colouring book, story book, virtual stickers and five money-related games.
Cash In On Birthdays
Summer birthdays are a great opportunity to get kids thinking about money. If it’s a pal who’s having a celebration, set a budget for the gift and see if your child can find a toy or a game that he can “afford.” And, if he’s walking around the store with a $20 in hand, maybe (just maybe) he won’t ask for a million things for himself.
If it’s your child’s big day, have him ask friends and family for money this year so he can divide up the bounty between a bigger gift, a charitable donation and money for his RESP.
Sweet Summer Outings
Ice cream runs, parking meters, lockers at the beach, admission to the zoo — there’s so many opportunities to pay cash this summer. Have your child take the coins and bills in hand and use them. Paying for stuff often involves talking to other adults (“I’d like a chocolate cone, please.”), and that’s great practice too, although it can be difficult for shy kids. You can talk about the change that comes back and the difference between a quarter and a nickel. If your child heads out for the day with a grandparent or friends, give him a $5 bill all his own to spend as he likes and talk about how it went at the end of the day.
Kids can’t help but think summer is one big party. Use your vacations to explain the idea of cost — for cottage rentals, airplane tickets, gas, whatever — and what your family can afford. You can talk about planning for next summer and how trips, summer camps and other adventures are a cost that need to be thought about well in advance.
Learning about money is not just about being able to identify a dime, but understanding that’s it’s not an unlimited resource. Start your kids out this summer with a hands-on taste of both – but sweeten the deal with a little ice cream.