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Practical Money Tips for Teaching Children About Finances

Nashville, Ark. - Chances are your household budget is taking a hit now that school has started. Club fees, new school clothes, school supplies, the list can go on and on. The thought, “my children think I am made of money” or “my children think money grows on trees” has probably crossed your mind the last few days. How can parents teach their children about financial management? Teaching practical money skills can sometimes be a challenge for parents. Here are some things you can do.

Tips for teaching your children good skills:

  • Children learn from you. Whether you realize it or not, your children are watching you. Be an example of a responsible money manager by paying bills on time, being a conscious spender and an active saver. Look for opportunities to talk about money.
  • Needs or Wants? Family shopping trips are good opportunities to discuss budgeting, spending and saving. It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants,” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store: Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want.
  • Divide and Conquer. Have children begin budgeting by dividing their allowance or any money they receive into four clear jars labeled: Sharing, Spending, Short-term Saving and Long-term Saving. They should deposit 10 percent of their money or $1 for every $10 in the sharing jar, 30 percent, or $3 for every $10 into the spending jar, another 30 percent, or $3 for every $10 into the short-term saving jar and the last 30 percent or $3 for every $10 into the long-term saving jar.
  • Bank on Knowledge. Bring your children to the bank and show them how transactions work. Set up a time to have the manager explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest and how an ATM works. Ask for tour, if possible, and be sure to see the vault! Some banks have junior accounts that provide this information when a child opens a savings account. Groups, such as 4-H, offer periodic educational workshops on money management that includes a tour of the bank.
  • Pay by the Chore. Make a list of all the chores that need to get done around the house, such as mowing the lawn, washing the car, sweeping or vacuuming or dusting the furniture. Put a dollar amount next to each chore. Children can then pick and choose which chores (based on how much money they want to make) they want to do. This gives your children the freedom to choose their extra-credit chores, the freedom to make some extra cash when needed and encourages them to take pride in their work.
  • Budget, budget, budget. Have older teens list expenses and income. Under expenses, include what they spend for football games, school events, lunches, etc. Have them subtract expenses from income. Help them think of ways to reduce their spending. If there income is more than expenses, talk about a savings plan.
  • Planning on a Budget. Tell your child or children to pretend they are in charge of planning a birthday party at home for another child. Four of their friends will be at the party. Estimate the total cost.
  • Holiday Spending. It’s not too early to start thinking about holiday spending or other periodic expenses. Discuss alternatives or less expensive gifts for those on their shopping list. Teach them how to compare and save. Start now by making gifts instead of purchasing them.

Let’s face it. Times are tough for everyone. Necessary items such as groceries and fuel to operate vehicles cost more now than ever before. By teaching children at an early age how to manage finances, they will be better prepared to face these challenges when they become an adult.

For more information about financial matters, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service by visiting our office located on the second floor of the courthouse or by calling our office at 870-845-7517. You might also want to check out our website at The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a budget friendly recipe for a quick-to-fix meal on busy nights. It makes eight servings and costs approximately 35 cents per serving!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 cups macaroni

  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)

  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk, non-fat

  • 1 egg (medium, beaten)

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 1/4 cups cheese, finely shredded sharp cheddar, low-fat

  • Nonstick Cooking Spray

  1.   Cook macaroni according to directions. (Do not add salt to the cooking water.)

  2. Drain and set aside.

  3. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  5. Lightly spray a saucepan with nonstick cooking spray.

  6. Add onions to saucepan and sauté for about 3 minutes.

  7. In a large bowl, combine macaroni, onions, and the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

  8. Transfer mixture into casserole dish.

  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

  1.  Nutrition Information per Serving: 110 calories, 2 g. fat, 8 g. protein, 14 g. carbohydrates, 1 g. fiber, 135 mg. sodium


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

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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 Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of 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.