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Ways to Teach Your Children to be Financially Fit

Here are some ideas you can use to teach your children about finances.

Nashville, Ark. – Technology can be a wonderful tool for teaching your children about finances. Search for financial games and activities to teach children about finances and you will find lots of great websites. Most financial institutions will have activities for children to learn basic money management using fun, interactive online tools. However, many parents are concerned about limiting their child’s screen time.

            There are many lessons and activities you can do with your child to promote financial fitness. Here are some ideas you can do while spending time together.

            For younger children, introduce financial matters through books. There are many storybooks that teach financial skills. Contact your local county extension office for suggested titles.

Have them compare everyday expenses. Regularly discuss how much everyday items, such as groceries, meals out and household supplies cost. As a family, brainstorm ways to save money. Actively involve your children in this process. They may think of ways you haven’t thought of. This activity also teaches children what a normal week’s expenses might be and practice budgeting in the process.

            This activity lends itself to teaching about needs versus wants. The need to eat dinner versus the want to make a spontaneous trip to an expensive restaurant. Or the want for a game they can’t afford unless they earn money and save until they can afford to purchase it. These are great financial habits everyone should have.

            Practice calculating savings. Looking for ways to save money can be a math lesson. For example, a sale where you buy one item and get a second of equal value for 50 percent off is equivalent to 25 percent off your purchase. Fifty percent sounds great, but is it really?

            Percent off sales can help teach children to consider how much they are going to spend rather than how much they will save. You can use these sales-related examples to point out that if you weren’t planning on making the purchase anyway, buying something because it’s on sale isn’t really saving at all. You may have heard the saying, “never spend a dollar just to save a dime”.

You can also teach how much will be saved by waiting until an item they want goes on sale. Calculate the difference between the regular price and sale price. Put the money that was saved from the sale into their piggy bank.

When you do eat out, have your child calculate how much the tip will be. Reviewing the bill may help them appreciate the true cost of a meal. It also teaches financial responsibility of gratuity and how tips may help pay the salary of the waiter or waitress.

Make saving a regular and physical activity. This activity uses three jars or containers to teach money skills. The idea is simple: one container for saving, one for spending and one for sharing (charity). The three “S’s” are a great way to teach budgeting. Save some, Spend some and Share some of the money you earn. Whenever your children get an allowance, money from work, a gift or any other sort of income, ask them to split it up among the three jars. This could be an even split or divided another way; that’s a decision you can make together. Put the jars in a prominent place where the child will see them. They can watch the money grow over time. This is a great learning tool to prepare them for the day they are ready to open savings and checking accounts.

Be honest and open the books. It’s up to you to decide how much detail you want to share but offering examples of how you manage your finances could help your child prepare for the real world. For example, you could go over a monthly utility bill together and discuss how the family’s energy-related actions affect the bill and ways you could cut costs. Go over bank or credit card statements together.

You may want to share examples of monthly loan payments and discuss interest rates. Reviewing investment account statements can show how compound interest works. It could also show how the Covid-19 pandemic affected the stock market.

Lead by example. Working on financial skills with practice, lessons and stories is important but the best example is one that parents set. Consider this time of social distancing as an opportunity to share your knowledge with your children. Who knows? You might learn new techniques for better money management yourself!

Financial literacy isn’t something you can teach in a week or with a single session. It takes time and practice. Teaching your child now can help them prepare for a healthy financial future.

Information for this article was adapted from the website You might also check out the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service site  for educational information regarding financial management.

Recipe of the Week

            If you are looking for an easy to prepare dish that tastes great try this one from Anna McKinnon. Anna is a member of the Super 4-Hers and Sew Much Fun 4-H Clubs in Howard County. She won 2nd place in the Howard County Dairy Foods Contest with this recipe.

Crockpot Crack Chicken

3 lbs. boneless chicken breasts

2 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese

2 (1 oz.) packets dry Ranch seasoning

8 oz. bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled

8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

In a slow cooker combine chicken, cream cheese, and Ranch seasoning. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours, until chicken shreds easily. Once chicken shreds, stir with a large fork or spoon, so the chicken shreds and all the ingredients combine. Add in crumbled bacon, shredded cheese and stir to incorporate. Serve warm on Hawaiian rolls or buns.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.