According to the McKinsey Global Institute, Canadians are a world leader in household debt – an unfortunate reality that Financial Literacy Month aims to change. This year’s national strategy is called “Count me in, Canada” and urges Canadians to make financial literacy a life-long journey.
The best way to make financial literacy a priority across age groups is by starting with the youngest one – children. Here are five activities to try this month with your little ones to help set them on the path to lifelong financial success.
1. Make Money Jars – and Use Them
For this classic money management activity, you will need three jars (mason jars or other recycled glass jars work well,) three labels, and a marker.
Label your jars for “spending,” “saving,” or “sharing” – or better yet, have your child write out the labels. Then, place a label on each jar.
Explain to your child the purpose of the jars: every time he receives money, he should divide up the money between the three jars. The first one, labelled spending, is for making smaller purchases (like stickers) while the “saving” jar is for bigger purchases (such as a new video game.) The “sharing” jar is for just that – sharing with a friend or family member who needs it or donating it to a good cause.
This activity is a great way to teach your child about saving money, sharing it with others, and spending it wisely.
2. Take a Trip to the Grocery Store
Turn your next grocery store trip into a financial literacy lesson for your child. Next time you head to the grocery store with her, make a conscious effort to involve her in some of your financial decisions.
Start out by explaining why you made certain purchase choices – for example, if you opted for one brand of cereal over the other, explain your reasoning. Is it because both brands taste great, but one costs a dollar less? Or perhaps one was one sale, and you wanted to try out that flavour?
Next, allow her to make her own financial choices by giving her a little bit of pocket money – such as a toonie, or $5 – then ask her to choose a grocery item to purchase, such as fruit or cereal. Give her the parameters of what you need (like “a cereal with raisins” or “a citrus fruit”) and let her make her own purchasing decisions. Keep the conversation flowing, and answer any questions she may have.
A grocery store is the perfect place to put those newfound financial knowledge into practice and allows your child to use her newfound financial literacy skills in a real-world environment.
3. Play a Game
What better way to teach your little ones financial literacy than through a game?
Whether it’s a classic board game, an online webgame, or an interactive mobile game, using educational games is a great way to get your child excited about financial literacy, while teaching him important money lessons that will come in handy down the road.
Board games like Monopoly, The Game of Life, and Payday teach basic financial math skills, the impact of overspending, and the basics of budgeting.
Online webgames like Money Metropolis and Rich Kid Smart Kid help teach children how to make sound financial decisions, and mobile games like Motion Math: Cupcake! teach kids math and money management skills.
Remember: keep internet safety in mind whenever you’re browsing the web with your little ones.
4. Read a Book
Teaching children the value of money can be as simple as opening up a good book.
From the Cat in the Hat, to Curious George, and even Amelia Bedelia, there are plenty of books to help teach your child important financial lessons, no matter their age.
Family storytime is the perfect opportunity to teach your child about financial literacy, all while improving her reading comprehension and enjoying quality time together.
5. Visit Desjardins’ Youth and Finance Page
From articles to activities to fun (and educational) videos, the Desjardins Youth and Finance page has everything you need to help prepare your little ones for a future of financial success.
Start out by taking the Your Child and Money quiz, then make your way through Desjardins’ Step by Step Finance Guide – whether your child has just entered Kindergarten, or is well on her way to finishing high school, it has information and activities for each age group.
The money lessons don’t have to stop after the month of November comes to a close! Teaching your children about money when they are young will help them on the road to making good financial choices when they grow older.