How to Teach Kids About Saving Money

Marshall Rathmell |

Friday, April 28th, 2017 was National Teach Your Kid to Save Money Day. Marshall had the awesome opportunity to visit Highlands United Methodist Child Development Center and talk to the Sunflower class, a five-year-old Pre-K class, about why you should and what it means to save money.  Afterward, Marshall and his five-year-old daughter, Amelia, came back to BCR® excited about the success and how he had taught Amelia’s classmates.  We wanted to share with all of you how it went and tips for yourself, so Brandy sat down and interviewed them.

Brandy: “I can’t imagine it is easy to get five-year-olds excited about saving.  How did you engage them to begin the conversation?

Marshall:  I purchased a toy package filled with fake money.  I started by showing them all the money and asking them two questions to see what they knew about money already:

  • How does your family earn money?
  • What does your family need money for?

Brandy:  What answers did you and your friends give, Amelia?

Amelia: I said to send money to the poor people, Charlotte said you need money to get clothes, other friends said - money is needed for a house so that you have a place to live, money for gas, medicine and money for food.

Marshall: Once we all discussed basic things that you need money for, I opened the toy money kit and gave every child a fake $100 bill.

Amelia: Yeah, everyone got one, it was cool!

Marshall: I told them to imagine they had all worked really hard the past month and they had each earned $100 for the work they did.  I explained it would be fun to use all that money to buy toys and ice cream, but first, we needed to spend some of it on all those things that our families need.  I held up my $100 bill and told them that we could start with the money we need to live in our houses, and I tore a piece of the $100 bill and dropped it on the floor.  All the children went quiet.

Amelia:  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t think I’d ever see my dad tear money.

Marshall: I gave them a little time to take in what I had done, and then I started listing back the items and tearing pieces off of my $100 bill:  this is for food, this is for clothes…  When I finished, I had about 25% of the bill left and asked them if they planned to go to college someday.  They all said yes, so I asked if they knew how much it would cost and they said a lot.  I agreed with them and said, “most people have to save a long time to pay for college so do you think we should save some of the money this month so that you can go to college some day?”  They agreed, so I tore another piece off and walked them through the idea of an emergency and needing to stop working someday.  I put those pieces into a separate pile and talked about the need to save money in a special place in case you need it.  Some of the kids told me that their parents use banks which I told them is a good idea.

Brandy:  Did that use up all the money? 

Marshall: No, I still had maybe 10% of the $100 bill in my hand.  I told them that because their parents were smart with their money, they have some money left over to have fun with like, and before I could even get words out of my mouth, they excitedly interjected “ice cream” “toys” “the beach.”  I told them, yes, and to remember when they asked their parents for those fun things that first they had to make sure they kept enough money for the things they would need before they got paid again.

Brandy: What was the main theme that you wanted the children to understand?

Marshall: When you get your paycheck, you need to know how much you will spend on the things you need, the things you need to save for, and how much you have left to be able to buy fun things.

Amelia: Yeah because then you will be sad because you don’t have anything to eat.

Brandy: Amelia, did your dad do a good job?

Amelia:  Dad, remember whenever we go out you say to make me proud of you and behave well? Well, you made me proud and behaved really well.”