Summer. School is almost over and the days of fun and relaxation are just around the corner. Ice cream…swimming…and the perfect opportunity to teach kids about money!
Stay with me for a second. I know it sounds crazy at first, but really summer is the perfect time for kids to learn about managing finances. The pace of life is slower, you have a chance to spend more quality time together, and many of the discretionary spending decisions are ones that include the kids.
Plus, giving kids a voice in the family finances not only teaches them good habits, it also cuts down on complaining. When kids buy into saving and spending as a family they are much more likely to understand why sometimes we have to say no to things in order to have money left for others. A summer fun jar is one way to make a big life money lesson more visual and fun!
Thanks to T Rowe Price and Scholastic for sponsoring this post. All ideas and opinions are my own. We’re excited to partner with them to help make teaching kids about money easier for parents!
Why Teach Kids About Money
According to T. Rowe Price’s 2016 Parents, Kids & Money Survey 71% of parents have at least some reluctance to discuss financial matters with their kids and nearly as many parents are uncomfortable discussing family finances (58%) as they are discussing death (59%). This fear leads parents to avoid the topic altogether and lets kids grow up without the skills they need to make good financial decisions down the road.
The good news is that talking to kids about money doesn’t have to be done with big fancy speeches or color coded spreadsheets. Simple everyday conversations and activities can lead to smart money decisions down the road. One fun activity to teach kids about the decision making and patience involved in spending and saving is to create a summer fun jar.
How to Use a Summer Fun Jar
The basic concept behind a summer fun jar is simple, kids or families put money in to save up for something fun they’ve picked to do. But this is no ordinary piggy bank! Instead of just saving some of the money kids get for Christmas or a birthday they’re going to learn to strategically plan to reach a specific goal.
Create the Summer Fun Jar
- small glass or plastic jar (clean something from your recycling bin to model saving money)
- construction paper and markers
- blank paper to write goal on
The first step is to create the jar and use to introduce the concept of spending and saving to kids. Decorate and label the front of the jar and keep the supplies out for the kids to use to finish it. You’ll want blank paper out to write the family goal on. You can even cut a small piece of paper to stick inside the jar to keep a running total of how much money you have saved.
How to Teach About Money
- Show the kids the jar and tell them you are going to save as a family to do something really fun this summer.
- Brainstorm ideas for what your family’s summer fun goal could be. As you make a list discuss how some activities cost more than others and will require more work and sacrifice to reach.
- Narrow your list to a couple choices and determine how much you will need to save to come up with the money for each. Discuss how you will come up with the money–earn money, save money by giving other items up, etc.
- Decide on your family’s summer fun goal and set a time frame for the goal. A goal of going to the movies may take less time to save up for than a camping weekend.
- Write the goal down on paper and stick it on the jar for everyone to see when they put money in. It’s a great way to reinforce what you are working toward.
- Create a plan for how you can earn or save money to put in the jar. You can save money by cutting back on discretionary spending such as take out, getting a summer job or holding a garage sale.
- Track your savings and adjust your plan. Each week (or day for shorter goals) total the amount in your jar and make changes to your plan to help you stay on track.
- Celebrate your hard work by doing your summer fun activity. Talk with your kids about how their choices and work made it possible.
Being smart about money is more than just knowing what to do, it’s having the confidence to know that if you work hard toward a goal you can get there. Using a summer fun jar with your kids is a simple and fun way to teach kids to make good financial decisions and understand the concept of teamwork while having fun as a family. It also takes the pressure of “fun” off of parents’ shoulders. Instead of something parents do for their kids it becomes a goal for families to achieve together. Try it this summer!
For more ideas and activities you can use with your family be sure to visit the Money Confident Kids website–it’s full of great finance tools and games for families!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of T. Rowe Price. The opinions and text are all mine.