When it comes to teaching kids about the value of money, the lessons are getting lost.
Only a third of states require high school graduates to take personal finance classes. And one in five of American 15-year-olds fails to meet basic financial literacy standards, as surveyed by the Programme for International Student Assessment.
There’s no time to waste. That’s why financial experts recommend kids and teens begin learning financial literacy even before they get their first summer job.
Their lives could depend on it, says Elisabeth Donati, owner and founder of Creative Wealth International, which develops financial education programs and products for kids and teens.
“Everything that we want, everything that we want to do, everything that serves us, really requires that we understand how to not just use the money, but to utilize it to our advantage,” she says.
Gifts can get kids and teens excited to learn about money
Financial literacy for kids and teens doesn’t have to be boring. There are a number of games, apps and other fun ways to instill good money habits that will pay off—literally—later on.
Here are a few ideas to give the teen in your life the gift of financial responsibility in a way that’s fun, engaging and even profitable.
There’s no time like the present to check out these great gift ideas.
Open a custodial account
The best way to learn about investing could be…investing! And there are thousands of stocks and funds out there that can appeal to teen’s interests, from sports to tech and fashion.
“Go and start a custodial account for the child,” Donati says. “Start by giving the kid a hundred dollars and buying a few shares of stock..”
But don’t stop there, Donati says, follow the stock market with your teen. Have conversations about compounding, which can help money earn interest on its interest. Children can start to feel like participants in the world economy and not just consumers.
“Kids,” she said, “learn everything through activity.”
Monopoly is a tried and true favorite that really works. The classic board game can teach children lessons about real estate, the value of long-term investing, banking, debt, and even the value of utilities. These are concepts that adults can use some brushing up on too, Donati says.
The Money Game was created by Donati herself. Her goal is to teach dollars and sense by getting players up and moving. The room is the board and the kids are the pieces. They earn a paycheck for doing fun activities from running to jumping on one leg.
Net Worth is a Crazy Eights-style card game that teaches players to strategize to collect assets and unload debt, all while avoiding financial pitfalls. Great for travel, this quick game is recommended for kids age 8 and up, so the whole family can play and learn.
Financial Football, a computer game developed by Visa and the National Football League works to make money relatable to sports fans, by turning financial achievements into yardage and touchdowns.
Bankaroo, which was allegedly developed by an 11-year-old, is a free app that allows children and teens to log their allowances, paychecks or birthday money, and then set goals for how they want to use that money.
Star Banks Adventure gives you your own alien as a guide to help you complete puzzles, take quizzes and build your own devices all in the quest for financial education.
iAllowance boasts 15 million chores completed and 10 million allowances paid. This app lets kids and parents work together to list and complete chores, set up payment and tackle budgeting and saving. Parents can also set up bonuses that their kids can cash in.
“It shows how cash comes in, how cash goes out,” she says, and how to make your money work for you.
The Money Savvy Student, by Adam Carroll, the founder of MoneySavvy.com, uses storytelling to teach perspective and basic financial building blocks in a book that’s geared to teens.
Donati also suggested a little-added incentive along with financial books.
“Pay your teen to read financial books. Pay them the maximum you can afford for each book,” Donati says. “Here’s the deal, they have to read the book, they have to do a short book report on every single chapter.”
Before you pay them, go over the book and their reports, talking with your teen about specific ways the whole family could implement the lessons in the book.
Consider some of these books, games, and apps. You’ll be rewarding your children by helping to set them up for a lifetime of financial responsibility.