things to do with kids to learn about money

My kids are the ones who motivated my husband and me to change the way we understood money. Our goal is to pass down financial wisdom to prepare them for their future. However, you can’t tell a kid how money management works. Fortunately, I found simple things to do with kids to learn about money. 

Minimalist Living

My kids are pretty good about not asking for a lot of toys. Maybe it’s because we use on-demand streaming services, and it doesn’t contain many commercials encouraging them to buy more stuff.

I do recall the entire family staying at a hotel one-time watching live TV. My little ones were confused when they were stopped and shown an ad on TV. 

It was something new to them. My husband had to explain to them, “Kids, this is called a commercial.” 

However, we do receive a catalog from time to time featuring kids happily enjoying their toys. It only takes a couple of minutes for them to share with me how buying a particular toy would be awesome!

I kindly remind them of all the toys they have in the playroom gifted from grandparents. I also remind them how they leave the playroom cluttered and don’t put their toys in the proper place.

Hello, minimalist living! On occasion, I do a purge of toys with the kids. It first starts with an explosion of toys everywhere. It’s hard for them to deny that they have a lot of junk;  I mean stuff.

I use this as an opportunity to remind them that others are not as fortunate. And, I ask them, “Why should we buy more toys if we can’t take care of the ones we have now?” We have these free things lying around that no one is using.

Afterward, I set up two baskets: one basket for toys to keep and the other basket for donation. We make a day trip of going around town exchanging the unused toys for cash at local kid’s toy boutiques.

They’ve learned to appreciate the toys they have, avoiding buying more than they need, and make some money on the side!


My son came home from school with a Scholastic book order form. We both love reading. It’s one of our best family pastimes. So, I’m totally on board to buy him more books! 

However, I wanted him to stick to a budget. I told my son that our budget for buying new books is $40. I first let him pick all the books he wanted, and the total came out to be just over $90

I told him he had to remove some books to get within our budget. He did this a couple of times and started to get frustrated. He wanted to give up buying books.

However, I encouraged him for his efforts and let him know that we can still get those books but just not right now. I told him that we only had a set budget for the month and would have to wait next month if we wanted more.

In the end, he was able to choose five books that fit within our budget. And, if he wanted more books, he needs to wait.

Compound Interest

Don’t worry. I didn’t teach my kids how to read a stock chart. Instead, I wanted them to understand the benefit of patience and growth over time: compound interest.

I accomplished this money lesson with the Marshmallow Test. It’s one of the simple things to do with kids that rewards patience.

Initially, a person places a marshmallow in front of a child. The child chooses between eating it right away or waiting for a moment to be rewarded with two marshmallows.

I do this test with my children, and I have to give credit to my son. Like his mommy, he loves to win. I tell him that if he can wait five minutes eating the marshmallow, I’ll give him five marshmallows total.

My husband and I like to be a little dramatic with this test and say, “Okay, kids. Daddy and mommy are going to talk for a bit. Don’t touch those marshmallows!

Without fail, my son readily waits five minutes for the sake of getting five marshmallows. I have taken a step further by telling him to wait another five minutes for another five marshmallows

Instead of cashing out early, my son understands compound interest by expecting a return for patiently waiting. Just like the stock market, instead of cashing out your stocks, the number of shares can quickly grow due to time and patience.

However, when I bring out the hot chocolate, it’s time for him to cash out and retire!

Real Estate

We always try to involve our kids in our real estate business whenever we can, such as taking them on-site to check on contractors. Or, explaining how wholesalers use skip tracing to find absentee owners to produce great real estate deals.

However, my son is currently in elementary school, and trying to analyze a property’s “cash on cash return” is a little over his head. Thus, we have a family fun night where the whole family can play the board game Monopoly Jr.

real estate monopoly junior

The Junior version does not contain all the rules like the adult one, such as scaling your properties and converting them into hotels. But, it does reward players for owning all the same colors. 

Although it’s just a board game, I always emphasize real estate’s power, especially in properties in the best places. The funny thing is that my daughter (the youngest one) often wins and is used to holding out her hand, ready to receive her money.

On the other hand, my son tries to share with me some of his cash. Bless his heart.


It’s easy these days to buy kids whatever they want. Even though we could afford it, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should buy it. We aim to purchase at least things that add value to their lives.

TV and social media have made everyone, not just the youth, feel like there is always something wrong or something is missing from our life.

As parents, we are responsible for educating our children to make wise decisions, including financial ones. It’s easy to say that we want to give our children what we didn’t have. But, it’s harder to undo a bad habit.

Instead, essential things to do with kids are sharing our knowledge, experience, and our setbacks. I’m all for supporting children through their financial needs. So, let’s help them understand their money.

This article originally appeared on Parent Portfolio and has been republished with permission.