How to teach your kids about money

Remember your anxiety the first time you served your infant solid foods? Do you worry about your teen learning to drive? As kids grow, parents must allow them greater autonomy. Teaching young children about money management and allowing them increased financial responsibility as they mature can help them grow up fiscally healthy. Here are some ideas for children of different ages.

Young Children (Ages 3 to 5)

From the time children are old enough to count, use jars or play games to help kids learn how to identify coins and count money. When you shop, occasionally give children small amounts of change to spend, and remind them that it's OK to save money rather than spend it. Around age 5, start giving children an allowance that they can keep in a piggy bank or other "safe" place, such as their Think savings account. Teach children about generosity by encouraging them to make charitable donations.

Older Children (Ages 6 to 12)

If you haven't already, open a savings account for your children to encourage long-term saving. At this stage, it's a good idea to give children a weekly allowance so they can gain money management experience. You may want to encourage them to divide their money into three categories: money for spending, saving and sharing.

As your children get older, allow them to spend their own money on nonessentials and expensive items that don't fit your budget. Talk to them about smart shopping techniques: balancing wants vs. needs, comparing prices, clipping coupons and watching for sales. You may want to encourage them to take on odd jobs, such as extra yard work or pet care, to earn extra money.


Teenagers may be ready to earn some money outside the home, whether babysitting, mowing lawns or getting a first real job. As they start enjoying more financial resources, they will also need to assume increased responsibility. Allow teens to take on more nonessential expenses, and discuss their savings plans for long-term goals. Teens who have demonstrated maturity with their finances are probably ready for a checking account. Consider encouraging financially responsible older teens to use a debit card too, and if applicable, using direct deposit for their paychecks.

As your teen continues to demonstrate maturity, talk to him or her about credit and the importance of borrowing wisely. By the time teens are college-age, they are often inundated with offers from credit card companies, so you might want to give them a chance to practice handling credit with a joint credit card from Think. You can set the credit limit low ($100 to $500) while they gain experience, then increase the amount when they're ready.

You could also get them started with Think Online. Be sure to show them how to safely use online tools by creating strong passwords to protect their financial information.

We can help

We understand the importance of establishing good financial habits early in life, and we're here to help you steer your children in the right direction. Whether you're ready to open a savings account for a young child, or it's time for more sophisticated tools like a checking account and debit card for your teen, visit one of our branches or call us at 1-800-288-3425 to get them started today.

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