“You can’t go at this as an academic exercise, you’ve got to do it in such a way that the kids don’t even realize they’re learning,” said personal finance guru Gordon Pape, who co-authored Money Savvy Kids with his daughter, Deborah Kerbel. The book, which was released Saturday, delves into budgets, first bank accounts, savings and more.
Kerbel, the mother of 7-year-old Dahlia and 10-year-old Jonah, now has found some books are particularly good at teaching money lessons, while still being fun. The Lemonade War, for example, is about siblings opening up a stand, but includes business concepts and math problems.
For younger kids, starting at around age 5, it’s possible to play basic games including coin recognition. “First they have to learn what each coin is,” Kerbel said, listing off the animals and symbols on each coin, including the nickel’s beaver.
Give an allowance
Kerbel said it might sound like a lot of money but it had to reflect Disney prices and her kids knew the limit was strict. If they wanted something more expensive, they had to save and budget their allowances.
“All of a sudden they weren’t begging us to buy them things,” she said, adding her younger child needed some help with calculating. “They were budgeting, they were making calculations, they were planning ahead.”
As well as using online tools to track how much each child has spent of their allowances — a dollar per grade each week — Kerbel made it mandatory for both children to donate some to a charity. They’ll be part of deciding what charity it should go to, she said.
Even if a family doesn’t give an allowance, Kerbel said substituting gifts with donations can be a way to teach the idea.