17 Easy Ways to Teach Kids to Budget This Summer
It’s easy to overspend during the summer months, which is why it is the perfect time to teach kids to budget.
Vacations, entertainment, and endless snacks at the pool add up to a pretty penny.
Instead of going into debt trying to treat your kids to the perfect summer vacation, use the time to show them a thing or two about how the real world works.
Let’s face it, most kids in the U.S. aren’t being taught financial literacy in school. If parents don’t teach kids to budget, no one will.
It’s such an issue that lawmakers have been fighting for years to include economics education and financial literacy as part of the school curriculum.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida recently signed the bill (SB 1054 into law), which requires a one-semester financial literacy course for high school graduation.¹
Florida is now one of the few states in the U.S. that requires financial literacy education.
Whether or not you live in a state where financial literacy is part of the curriculum, it is wise to use the summer months to teach kids to budget. Plus, given the nature of summer spending, it lends itself to easy learning!
The following tips can help your kids master the art of budgeting.
#1 Explain How to Budget
Before you do anything else, explain how to budget and why it is important.
This is as simple as explaining that a budget is a spending and saving plan based on how much money you have and spend. For example, if your kids earn an allowance, use this to explain that they get a set amount of money that must be budgeted.
If they don’t track their spending, they may overspend and not have any money left.
#2 Do the Math
Take it to the next level and do the math with your kids.
Let’s say your kids get $40 allowance each month for doing chores. Break the numbers down.
Do they have any expenses they cover each month, such as a subscription service? Subtract the cost of this service.
Next, subtract the costs of typical spending, such as snacks at the gas station or movie tickets.
Kids need to see how quickly money disappears so they budget more effectively.
#3 Download Kid-Friendly Budgeting Apps
Make it easy for kids to budget by downloading kid-friendly budgeting apps that track and deduct spending. Younger children will benefit from apps like Rooster Money, while teens will benefit from apps like Mint.
#4 Set a Savings Goal
Kids need a concrete reason to budget. One reason is a clear savings goal.
Have your kids set a savings goal for something they want to spend money on this summer, such as Legos or a trip to a waterpark. They need to budget some money toward this savings goal when they get money.
#5 Give Kids Summer Chores
If you want to teach kids to budget, you need to give them opportunities to earn money. Think of summer-specific chores kids can help with that will help them boost up their savings, such as mowing lawns, pulling weeds, or walking dogs.
#6 Encourage Kids to Find Summer Jobs
If you have older kids, encourage them to find a summer job. Minimum-wage jobs are great learning experiences. They will quickly learn the value of hard work and saving their money to spend on things worth the cost.
#7 Do It the Old-Fashioned Way
Summer is a great time to earn money the old-fashioned way by setting up a lemonade stand.
If you want to emphasize budgeting, have kids track their spending on supplies and then deduct these costs from their profits. Then, have kids allocate the remaining money in their budgets.
#8 Play Games
Some of the best ways to teach your kids to budget don’t feel like teaching. Find an afternoon to play Monopoly or Life. Your kids won’t even realize they are learning anything because they’ll have so much fun.
#9 Watch Money Movies
There are tons of family-friendly movies that include financial lessons, such as Trading Places, Pursuit of Happyness, Blank Check, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and even Harry Potter.
The key is not simply to watch the movie. Instead, you must point out the characters’ financial choices and why they matter.
#10 Decide What Kids Will Pay For
If you want to teach kids to budget, you need to have a plan for what you will pay for and what they will cover.
This is important because, if not, you’ll find yourself paying for all the extras kids want, and they won’t actually learn the lesson.
Take time at the beginning of summer to discuss what costs they will be responsible for, such as gas for their car, extra snacks, or app purchases.
#11 Give Kids a Vacation Budget
All parents have suffered through the experience of walking through a gift shop with their kids. If you are heading on vacation this summer, give your kids a vacation budget (and stick to it).
Tell them how much money they will have for souvenirs or extra snacks on vacation, so they have the opportunity to budget accordingly instead of begging you for one more thing.
#12 Have Kids Research Budget-Friendly Activities
An easy way to introduce kids to budgeting is to discuss the costs of activities with them.
For example, when the kids ask to go somewhere, have them research the costs. Then, once they have figured out the prices, be honest about whether or not it is in your budget.
From here, suggest they research budget-friendly activities, such as camping or dollar movies.
#13 Enroll Kids in Finance Camps or Courses
If you feel as if your kids are clueless about finances, and you are starting to worry, consider enrolling them in a financial summer camp. There are several around the country.
If there isn’t a financial summer camp near you, look into online financial courses designed for kids through platforms like Outschool.
#14 Put Kids in Charge of Grocery Shopping for One Week
Use their time out of the classroom to teach life skills, such as budgeting for groceries. Give your kids the challenge of grocery shopping for a week on a budget.
If a week is too much for the first attempt, give them a budget for shopping for a meal for the entire family.
#15 Focus on Needs, Not Wants
Summer presents kids with lots of opportunities to spend money on frivolous things. Use this as an opportunity to teach the importance of identifying wants versus needs.
Does your kid really need ice cream every day, or does he want it? Does she need more clothes for vacation, or does she want them?
#16 Give Kids Opportunities to Budget for an Event
A great way to motivate your kids to budget is to give them the opportunity to budget for an event. For example, allow your kids to host a sleepover or pool party. But the catch is to give them a set amount of money they have to use for party supplies.
#17 Take Advantage of Debit Cards for Kids
If you haven’t taken advantage of debit cards designed for kids, now’s the time.
The Greenlight debit card, for instance, is connected to the parent’s bank account. You can set up allowance funds to be transferred to your child’s debit card.
The debit card automatically deposits the funds into allocated budgets for savings, giving, and spending according to the percentage parents set.
Kids use the app to see how much money they have in their accounts so that they can stay on budget.
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