How to Talk to your Kids about Money

Kidlist welcomes Jason Dobrzynski, CFP®, RLP®, CMFC® of Corsalus Group as a guest contributor to give us tips on how we can talk to our kids about money. You will find some great games, activities, and books to make it easy and fun to raise our kids to be financially aware!

Jason is a local resident, intelligent financial advisor, father of an adorable little one, and a wonderful Kidlist sponsor – we are honored that he offered to share his wisdom. You can connect with Jason on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Although we want our children to be financially aware, it’s not always easy know how much we should involve them in our day to day finances. Knowing how soon to begin talking to our kids about money and what aspects about saving and spending to discuss can be tricky. However, giving your child the responsibility to handle money can empower them to problem solve and look at situations critically. 

Thankfully, we’ve found some great resources and activities that will help make your talks about saving and spending fun, and give your children confidence and independence to manage their money as they grow. We also have a great list of books that can increase financial awareness for you and your child!

Games and Activities to Raise Financial Awareness

Coupon Champion (Age 2+)

Bringing your child to the store is a great way to start discussing money, and there’s plenty for them to do to help you between choosing items and keeping track of your list. Consider printing out a shopping list consisting of pictures or frequently needed items (cheese, apples, bread) and laminate it so that their toddler can cross out the items with a dry erase marker. Or give your child a small clipboard to hold a list and coupons for items to check off. Letting your children help you shop is an empowering activity that will keep them engaged and start realizing the value and cost of frequently used items. 

 Lemonade Stands and More! (Ages 3+)

Playing store, lemonade stand or any other games where your child is interacting with buying or selling can be a fun way to introduce money concepts at a young age. This is a great preface to money discussions, and it can be carried out throughout childhood and tailored to any age. Discussing the prospect of selling something for a fee and choosing to save or spend shows real life consequences that adults face daily. Hosting lemonade stands and looking for age-appropriate jobs (caring for the neighbor’s dog, reselling toys that are no longer used) gives children appropriate responsibility that is critical to developing confident and money decision-making skills.

Want Vs. Need (ages 4+)

Think of or find 4 items or experiences and write them down (or draw a picture). Under each item, describe its worth, benefits and discuss whether it’s a want or a need. See below for an example.

Our House
Keeps us warm, dry and safe: this is a need. This is a good opportunity to discuss that although a home is a need, some homes are smaller or larger than your own. The need factor stems from being safe, dry and warm.

Food
Gives us energy, makes us healthy and strong. This is a need.

Family Pet
Provides comfort and love: this is a want. Although we love our pet, we can survive without him/her. What costs can the pet incur? Do you budget your pet and their needs in your monthly plans?

Vacations
Spending time with family, learning and exploring other parts of our country and world: this is a want. What special memories does your child have of past trips? What value and benefits do they see?

Weekend Planner (Age 5+)

Do your kids complain about the activities (or lack thereof) during the weekend? Here’s an activity that gives the kids more control and understanding of what things cost. Our team member, Liz, tried this activity with her 3 sons that are ages seven, nine and thirteen. 

At the beginning of a low-scheduled weekend, let your child know that he/she will be in charge of your activities and budgeting money for the weekend. Give them a predetermined amount of cash in an envelope that they will control (to be overseen by the parents). You may want to prepare a few suggested activities and their costs to give your child an idea of what things they can do and their cost upfront: i.e. Movies- cost for admittance and snacks; a few favorite restaurants and what the bill and tip might amount to; and nature walks or picnics for low or no-cost ideas. Liz and her husband also stocked a few items from the store (picnic fare, items for making pizza at home, snacks to take to the movie theater) in preparation for the weekend to assist in showing the kids other ways to conserve money. 

When Liz’s 3 boys had control of the weekend, they ran out of money very early, which turned out to be a great problem for them to tackle. They then came together and brainstormed solutions of other fun low or no cost activities to finish out their weekend. After the weekend was over, discussing how they spent “their money” and planning ahead turned into a discussion about budgeting.

After the first weekend, Liz’s kids looked forward to their next turn and had ideas for their weekends planned and ready to go!

Books About Money and Saving for Kids

A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money, by Nancy Holyoke

Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst

Amelia Bedelia Means Business, by Herman Parish

Arthur’s Funny Money, by Lillian Hoban

Bunny Money, by Rosemary Wells

Curious George Saves His Pennies,by H. A. Rey 

Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy Seeks a Fortune, by Jane O’Connor

How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest!by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista, et al.

Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money, by Emily Jenkins

Lily Learns about Wants and Needs,by Lisa Bullard

One Cent, Two Cent, Three Cent, New Cent, by Bonnie Worth

The Squirrel Manifesto,by Ric and Jean Edelman

The Wrong Shoes: A Book About Money and Self-Esteem (Generous Kids), by Caryn Rivadeneira

Books to Help Parents Teach Kids About Money

Raising Financially Aware Kids*, by Sara Allison, MBA and Jonathan Knapp, MBA, CFP®

*Corsalus Group has a limited amount of free copies of this book that we are happy to give you. Please contact eotto@wradvisors.com for more information.

The First National Bank of Dad: A Foolproof Method for Teaching Your Kids the Value of Money, by David Owen

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money, by Ron Lieber

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not, by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Zack Bowman

About Corsalus Group

If it’s in your heart, it should be in your plan!™

Jason Dobrzynski, CFP®, RLP ®, CMFC®, and Maralynn Kearney, MBA, are financial advisors and investment planners. The Corsalus Group office is located in Oak Brook at 1111 West 22nd Street, Suite 100.

We are a team who strives to make a difference in the lives of others, as well as in the community around us. We understand that ‘life is about the moments’ and we value how our families choose to spend their time.  We work with people to uncover and understand the things that are closest to their hearts and that they are most passionate about. After prioritizing these important matters, we collaboratively work with families to create a financial plan to help them envision and understand how they can get there.  And, we remain in their corner to help along the way.  Our goals are centered around enhancing the financial lives of individuals so they are living their lives to the fullest and feeling confident about the financial decisions that they make.  We not only want to celebrate the accomplishments that happen along the way in our clients’ lives, but we also take the time to recognize the ‘little things’ that go on because they sometimes matter the most.

If you have questions about a financial plan for your family or how to raise financially aware kids, please check out our website at www.corsalus.com or contact us at corsalus@waddell.com.


Jason Dobrzynski and Maralynn Kearney are Financial Advisors offering Securities and Investment Advisory Services through Waddell & Reed, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC and Federally Registered Investment Advisor.  Corsalus Group is a name used by independent advisors associated with Waddell & Reed for marketing purposes.

This article and the books referenced are for informational and educational purposes only.  The views and opinions expressed in the books are strictly those of the unaffiliated authors and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of Waddell & Reed.  The only book referenced that Waddell & Reed has reviewed is “Raising Financially Aware Kids” by Sara Allison, MBA and Jonathan Knapp, MBA, CFP®.  Waddell & Reed accepts no responsibility for the content in any of the other books referenced.  Third party links are provided as a courtesy.  When you access unaffiliated third-party sites, you are assuming total responsibility and risk for your use of the site.  

Waddell & Reed is not affiliated with Kidlist.  (06/19)

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie, her husband, and their kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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