How to Trick Your Kids into Developing Smart Money Habits

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Kids. They’re cute, and fun, and giant pains in the… side.

But we love them and want the best for them. And sometimes you’ve got to get a little sneaky to get them to learn those important life skills we all need — like tying your shoes and knowing which subway train will get you closest to your favorite sandwich shop.

So here are a few tried-and-true ways we recommend to trick your kids into developing smart money habits without them even knowing it.

It’s Challenge Time

Let’s get real — humans thrive on a challenge. The competition, the rush, the last minute panic that somehow turns into sheer brilliance. Whether we’re competing against another, ourselves, or just the clock, a challenge is a great way to trick your kids into learning to save.

Create a challenge for your kids to complete. Some ideas we’ve come up with include:

  • Who can earn the most money in a month?
  • How fast can you save $100?
  • Can you save $50 before we go on vacation?
  • Fill the piggy bank before Christmas.

Setting a goal or a timeline, and then having some kind of prize at the end (a trip to the toy store, and extra $10, something like that), will encourage your kids to learn different ways to save. Doing chores, helping neighbors, babysitting are great ways for your kids to earn the money they need to win the challenge.

A Penny for a Pound

Take a look at your savings account, Money Market Account, CD, or wherever you keep your money. What’s the best thing about that account? The interest you get, right? Your money is safe, and it earns for you without you having to do anything.

You think your kids might be interested in something like that? Make your kids a deal: for every $10 they earn and save, you’ll give them an extra $1. That’s a 10% return on their savings. Compounded over time, and that’s some serious dough for your kids.

Not only will this help your kids learn the importance of saving, but they’ll get a better understanding of interest rates and how they can add up. Don’t you wish you knew more about interest rates when you were starting out on your own?

Let’s Make a Deal

Have you ever met a kid who didn’t bargain about something? Bedtime, vegetables, size of dessert — kids always want to negotiate. So why not bring those negotiation skills to the next level and teach them about good money habits at the same time?

The next time your kid wants to negotiate for a toy or a later bedtime, make them a deal. They can stay up an hour later … for $5. They can get the new toy, but they have to put up half the money. Each extra scoop of ice cream with dessert is another $1.

Showing them the value of a dollar and how important it is to weigh cost against reward will help them better evaluate their purchases in the long run. If they spend all their money on extra ice cream, and then they have no money for that sweet new toy, they’ll think better about their choices in the future.

Sometimes it takes a little creativity to get your kids to learn an important life skill. And making sure they learn how to manage their finances is as important as regularly brushing your teeth or shielding your food from aggressive pigeons in the park.

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