From the outset, it is important to instill good habits in a child’s life – whether that is manners, behavior, healthy eating or regular activity. It is also our job as parents to make our little ones as educated and prepared for their adult life as we possibly can, by equipping them with important skills from an early age.

For most, financial decisions are encountered every day and will be something our children will face when they move into their teenage years.  Developing savvy financial skills from an early age and learning how to save will not only prepare your child for the real world as they move through life, but set a strong foundation for long-term money management.

So here are a few creative ideas to get your little ones thinking about money, as well as saving for their future!

Give five gold coins (either $1 or $2) to each of your children at the beginning of the week – put these in separate piggybanks or jars that are transparent and the parent can access. The aim of this game is to have the most coins in the jar by the end of the week. Add incentives to the game – if they clean their bedroom, make their bed, do the dishes, assist with the gardening or help out around the house, they get another two gold coins as a reward. This not only instills good habits when it comes to work and behavior, but it also becomes a fun competitive game between the kids as they watch their money grow. If the child is naughty, then you can take out two gold coins. At the end of the week, the child with the most gold coins in their jar, wins – not only do they have savings, but they can also choose their prize (i.e. picking their choice for dinner or a fun activity for the family to do on the weekend). At the end of each week, put the money they have collected into their bank account, so that the jars are empty for the next game. You can even take your little ones to the bank with you, to physically show them where their money goes.

Set up a make-believe grocery store with your child’s favorite food items and toys (you can even buy a toy till to add to the game!). Add price tags to each item, and make sure they include a value of cents as well. Give your child fake money (either Monopoly or if you really want to get creative, get your little ones to draw and cut out their own 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2 coins on cardboard and then $5, $10 and $20 notes). Take turns in playing the cashier and the customer and get your child to buy what it is they want, by counting out their money to the correct value. This helps them become familiar with spending, as well as see the value of money needed to buy particular goods.

Talk to your child about what toy or item it is they really (really!) want. If it’s a new bike, doll or skateboard, write whatever that item is on a transparent jar. Keep the jar in a safe but visible place. The aim of this activity is to have your child work towards building their own savings for this item, by putting aside money for it each week. When your child receives their weekly allowance, step them through how much they would be able to spend of that money and how much they could put in their savings jar towards the item. Run through how many weeks it would take to save up for the item if they only put $2, $5 and $10 away at a time, so that it is up to them to choose how quickly they want to buy it. This gives them the freedom but also responsibility to save, as well as teaches patience and delayed gratification.

There are plenty of fun board games that help kids become familiar with money, one of them being the good old fashion Monopoly! Get the family together and play a game of Monopoly to help teach the kids how to handle and manage money, as well as introduce them to important topics including buying and selling property, rent and mortgage in an engaging way.

Chanelle Shibata