Kids & Money

On the site, I often talk about teaching your kids all about money. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where we talked about money and finance at least occasionally, which is more than most families. My father would always watch Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser when I was young, and I remember it was one of those shows where we couldn’t interrupt him.

Later my parents helped me open an IRA as a teenager, and had me pay them rent when I lived with them while I was working and going to college. That “rent” money became mine to use (as a surprise, they didn’t tell me ahead of time) to furnish the condo I bought with my own money at age 20. Looking back, I can now see that in many ways their daily actions were teaching me wise money decisions, like delayed gratification, saving, and wise spending.

Today I talk about all of those same things here on the site – how I teach my kids about money concepts (tangible and intangible), and how they react to them. On this page I’ll summarize my top Kids and Money articles and resources so you can come to one place and find them all. Stop by often as the list is updated frequently! It’s one of my personal favorite subjects to write about.

Kids and Money Articles

Compound Interest – It can be tricky to teach kids how compound interest works. After all, their memories and attention span are short. Compound interest is such an intangible concept, and the idea of money doubling over seven, ten, or more years sounds like it’s going to take forever. In this story, I talk all about how I took my middle son to the bank to cash out a savings bond I got when I was around his age. It had more than tripled in value since my grandparents got it for me as a child.

Kid Accounts – Are you unsure what kinds of account might be available for your (or someone elses) kids? Check out this awesome 101 breakdown of all the different options you have, and what they’re good for.

College – Saving for college is one of those big, hairy, very long-term financial goals that many parents worry about. My oldest son is in high school now, so it’s never very far from my mind. That’s why I’ve written so much on the subject. I developed a College Compact as a way to solidify my college goals (one of my most popular articles!) Check out more about saving for college in my guide to college gifting, the reality that colleges don’t give you aid if you don’t feel like saving, why sometimes the advice that you can get loans for retirement but not college is wrong, or my thoughts on the How America Pays for College study by Sallie Mae. You can also learn how I got my bachelors degree with no debt, paying for it all myself working full time and going to school full time.

Frugal Is Fun – Kids sometimes equate fun with spending money. After all, going to Disney, on a ski trip, or to the arcade is fun – right? And sure, it is fun. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. In this article I talk all about how you can make the ordinary just a little bit extraordinary, having fun and saving money in the process. You can also seek out fun and free weekend activities, like the monthly Home Depot Kids workshops (and the prior Lowes workshops as well). And lets not forget that consignment shops and tag sales have amazing bargains, fun toys, and are better for the environment.

Planning and Wise Spending – Every year we take a road trip and visit new places around the country. In this article, I recount one of our road trips and the family financial lessons we teach. Namely, planning ahead, budgeting, and spending your budgeted money wisely. If you want to get your kids involved in planning the annual family vacation, you can learn more about our process here.

Ultimate Frugal Vacation – Is it camping? Yes, it is. See why I think so, and get some tips on how to get started camping without breaking the bank.

Use Your Imagination – Have you ever had a kid who seemed to like the box better than the present inside? Then you’ll love this story all about Not a Box, and how my three boys love playing with boxes best of all.

Scoring Deals – You can have an awesome weekend jam-packed with new, fun activities without spending a lot. Here I talk all about the great deals I scored to have a fun $11 weekend of day trips here in CT, using free passes and Groupon to get a bargain. Although you need to be wary of getting a bad (financial) deal, like when my free animals cost me thousands.

Cutting Cable – My family has lived without cable for seven years now. Often I hear from people who say their kids will never go for it (or their spouses). I talk all about five financial lessons your kids will learn from cutting the cord, and share our cable-free story. Especially now with so many inexpensive streaming options available, it’s silly to use kids as an excuse to not cut the cord.

Phones – Believe it or not, I still have a home phone. You can see all about why Ooma is my home phone of choice for the past several years. And one hotly debated topic is whether or not to get your kids a cell phone (and if so, when) – you can see my answer on this, plus interviews with my older boys on what it’s like to not have a cell phone when everyone else does.

Financial Lessons From Ordinary Events – Even a trip to the local hot air balloon festival can be an opportunity to share lessons on the importance of research, preparation, and that having fun doesn’t need to cost money. And believe it or not, even school book fairs can be an opportunity to save money.

Deferred Gratification and Wise Spending Decisions – Sometimes teaching kids the intangible money concepts, like deferring and wise spending, can be tricky. Find out how we used wizard chess and hoverballs to teach this lesson to our boys.

Back to School – Sometimes when you’re sending the kids off for a new school year, you’ll see everyone around you spending a ton of money buying new things for their kids. No need to spend a fortune, though, you can easily save a ton of money (and hassle) by going frugal.

Identity Theft – Did you know that identity thieves prefer to stead kids identity rather than adults? It’s scary but true. Why? Because thieves can use that identity for years with no one knowing. Find out more about it, and how to protect your kids.

Kids and Money on Holidays and Birthdays

Birthdays – I love making really amazing cakes for my kids birthdays. Not only does it taste better than storebought, but I can make an absolutely stunning cake for not much more than it would cost to get one at BJ’s. Here I go behind the scenes with host much it cost to make an amazing 3D Minecraft TNT cake. Looking for more ideas? Look no further than the full breakdown of all the awesome, creative, and fun ideas here at the CMO household. For fun, here’s some of the cakes I’ve made over the years.

Valentines Day – One of those holidays that can easily be done frugally or cost you a small fortune, in this post I rounded up the best valentines advice from around the web, and shared the awesome homemade Valentines and sugar cookies we had planned for the holiday.

Easter – Unfortunately around here Easter is a bit of a rough time. My grandmother passed away the day after Easter several years ago, and when my husband almost died of septic shock, he was unable to come home for Easter. But despite all that, I still try to make it an awesome and fun holiday for my boys.

Mothers Day – Mothers Day is when you might get your mother a plant and expensive card. Maybe some flowers or jewelry. But your mother would probably prefer to have financial freedom. Even the creator of the holiday hated the commercialization so much she tried to get rid of it. So honor her by gifting financial freedom.

Fourth of July – For the Fourth, we like to have a lot of fun, but not spend a lot of money. Whether it’s having a cookout, going to a free fireworks show, making red white and blue sugar cookies, or other things, the Fourth is always fun around here!

Halloween Homemade and consignment costumes, dollar store decorations, and homemade Halloween cookies – here at CMO central, we have a blast and don’t break the bank. You can also check out my Halloween spending infographic, and more about spending – and saving –  for the holiday.

Christmas – Christmas doesn’t have to break the bank. Here I give fun frugal Christmas fun ideas, and lets not forget about Christmas spending facts and tips for busy working moms. And if you’re stumped for a gift for the grandma (or grandpa) who has everything, why don’t you make them a memory book?

My Favorite Kids and Money Resources

Not A Box – The best book about using your imagination, rather than needing new toys.

Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaire Club – The most amazing set of online cartoon videos, all about teaching kids about money. My boys watched these years ago and still remember the lessons they learned. I highly recommend this for older elementary and middle school kids.


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