Much has been said about the importance of teaching your children about money.
Yet you may not know where to start or even feel like you know enough about finances yourself.
"Many parents avoid trying to improve the financial literacy of their children because they lack confidence themselves," said certified financial planner Thomas Henske, partner at Lenox Advisors in New York.
His advice: Learn together.
Resources abound, if parents know where to look. There are free online materials available, as well as children's books and games that can help.
The Council for Economic Education aims to make learning fun with its Family-At-Home Financial Fun Pack. You can download the grade-appropriate pack for your child and get games, activities and worksheets that you can do together. There are also suggestions for books (see more on books, below).
The nonprofit personal finance organization Next Gen Personal Finance also has free online games and activities on topics like investing and budgeting, and the National Endowment for Financial Education has free online courses, learning activities and quizzes.
In addition, you can find age-appropriate resources on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Money as You Grow section, which also has activities, as well as suggestions for conversation starters. The nonprofit Khan Academy provides free online courses on all sorts of topics, including personal finance and money.
The American Bankers Association Foundation, which is sponsoring an annual "Teach Your Children to Save Day" on April 21, has a website decided to resources, including a "Bankers and You" bingo game, "Needs vs. Wants" coloring sheets and personal finance tips for young children.
"Studies have shown that children learn best when engaged and active," said Stephanie W. Mackara, president and principal wealth advisor of Charleston Investment Advisors, based in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. She's also the author of the book, "Money Minded Families."
"Concepts learned in games help children understand cause and effect, make mistakes and get rewarded for smart choices."
You have your pick of board games to introduce money lessons to your kids, including:
- Monopoly and Monopoly Jr.
- Pay Day
- The Game of Life
- The Allowance Game
- The Stock Exchange Game
- Sub Shop Board Game
- Money Bags
- Buy It Right
- Act Your Wage!
The U.S. Mint also has a number of free games available on its H.I.P. Pocket Change Kids site, including coin memory match, math jam and space supply.
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The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions also has a list of online and app options to choose from.
Reading books can also help build a foundation and make money concepts fun. The Council for Economic Education has suggestions, broken down by grade.
- "The Little Red Hen"
- "A Chair for My Mother"
- "Peppe the Lamplighter"
- "Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock"
- "The Wealthy Barber: The Common Sense Guide to Successful Financial Planning"
- "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything"
- "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference"
- "Learn to Earn: A Beginner's Guide to the Basics of Investing and Business"
- "Make Your Kid a Money Genius (even if you're not)"
Financial pros have also penned books for children, including investment advisor Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Engines, in Sunnyvale, California, with his "The Squirrel Manifesto," and certified financial planner Jim DeGaetano Jr., president of Diamond Wealth Advisors, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who recently published "Larry the Bunny Saves His Money."
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