Understanding how money works is an important life skill. It’s never too early in our opinion to teach financial literacy. A Cambridge study found that most of our money habits as adults are formed by the age of 7! Yes, 7! Further, the study concluded that there are basic practical approaches and skills which can be discussed and demonstrated by parents that will support the development of good money habits. To be most effective, children need to experience money concepts in tangible terms as opposed to just being talked to about money in abstract concepts.
Of course you don’t need to go out and buy any specific toys to teach your kids about money or financial literacy. In fact, not buying things is a great way to talk about and demonstrate money concepts like saving and budgeting.
However, there are great resources out there if you are looking to buy toys, games and tools to help teach financial literacy to your children. Children learn so much about the world through play, so why not incorporate some money toys?
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Play money can be so valuable when teaching kids about money. Even at the youngest age, kids can grasp some of the most basic concepts of money. Through play, kids can learn that money is used as a currency to buy things. Other concepts can also be explored while playing with money such as the value of a dollar, wants vs. needs, earning an income, saving money, or donating money.
We love this cash register from Ikea. Though it doesn’t have all the features of some battery-operated plastic toy cash registers, it still helps foster financial literacy in kids. It’s simple (not too busy or overstimulating for kids), has a drawer to keep play money, and has a working calculator operated by solar power! This toy cash register allows for open-ended play surrounding money – kids can set up a store, bank, vet, you name it!
Sidenote: We’re always seeing lots of these in great shape second-hand, so keep your eye out!
This play grocery store is another great toy that is guaranteed to get hours of play and helps teach financial literacy. The grocery store is very realistic when it comes to the money! The cashier side has a working calculator and a cash drawer. The customer side has a number pad, a place to swipe a credit (or debit card), and a place to sign their name (magna doodle). So many great opportunities to teach money concepts and for kids to experience them first hand!
The play grocery store also has a scanner (that beeps!), and hand-crank conveyor belt, a bagging area and plenty of shelf space to set up shop.
There are also additional accessories that can be purchased separately, that includes a conveyor belt divider, play money, an employee of the month sign, play food and more.
This oversized magnetic money is a great resource for teaching financial literacy. Displaying on the refrigerator keeps money at the forefront. Also great for play or keeping track of real-life savings, budgets or allowances.
This piggy bank provides more than an avenue for kids to save their money. It helps teach kids valuable money managing techniques. The concept is simple. There are three separate compartments for children to place their money labeled “Save,” “Give” and “Spend”. It’s made by Dave Ramsey and appropriately called the “Smart Saver Bank”. It’s made of durable plastic with a silicone lid. We don’t love that it’s plastic, but we like that it’s clear so it’s easy for kids to see their progress.
Kids may want to use some type of wallet or purse to stash their “spend” money (either real money or play money). You likely have an old wallet, purse or bag lying around that can be re-used for this purpose (or find second-hand!). If you do decide to buy new, these coin purses are fair-trade, made of wool/felt and come it lots of fun designs.
This set of money puzzles makes practicing those money skills fun! The set comes with 24 puzzles and the goal is to pair the amount (up to a $1) with the correct coins. This puzzle is meant for children in grades 1-2. This activity can easily be done independently, as there is a way to self-check the answer on the back of the puzzle pieces.
Monopoly is an iconic game that undoubtedly teaches money skills. Most people love it (some people hate it), but it’s definitely a game we recommend exposing your kids to!
Monopoly is meant for ages 8+, but there’s Monopoly Jr. meant for ages 5+.
There’s also tons of different versions of Monopoly so you can gear it to your child’s interests which will likely keep them better engaged. For instance for Monopoly Jr. there’s a Cars 2 edition and Disney’s Incredibles edition. For Monopoly, you have everything from Lion King to Fortnite and everything in between!
Money guru Dave Ramsey also put together a tool-kit to raise money-smart kids, called Financial Peace Jr. The tool-kit focuses on four main concepts: working, spending, saving and giving. It includes a parent guide, activity book (coloring pages and activities), chart to track success, chore chart, reusable “Give”, “Save” and “Spend” envelopes, and an ebook of Smart Money, Smart Kids.
Another product from Dave Ramsey, this Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox is designed for older kids and teens. If they don’t have a business idea already, this will surely inspire them! “Whether it’s mowing lawns, babysitting or making slime, the Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox will help teens turn their money-making idea into a real business.”
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