Spending is one of the most important aspects of financial literacy children should learn.

Teaching young children the basics of spending can be incredibly important to help them understand that the things we buy cost money and that money isn’t endless. Instead of simply buying everything they want, they need to plan ahead to determine if they can afford what they want.

Here are some activities to help teach kids spending basics from our partners at Banzai https://banzai.org

Spending Simulation: For younger kids, you can simulate the experience of spending to teach them about tradeoffs. Give your child some money (maybe $5) and set up a small, at-home store. The store could include one item that will cost the whole $5, a few between $2 and $3, and multiple small things for $1 or less. These items can be small toys, treats, or even “coupons” for extra time playing games or a movie night. The point isn’t what they’re buying, but that the child recognizes that they can’t get everything—they’ll have to prioritize what they want most. Repeat the store every so often, perhaps with money they earn instead, to see how their understanding grows. Perhaps you agree on a reward when certain milestones are met.

Expense Tracking: For older kids, help them track all of their spending for a week or month. They can do it on a piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or even an app. At the end of the tracking period, have them evaluate all of their choices. Did they spend more than they expected? Less? What would they like to change? Help them create a target for the next period and suggest ways they can improve. Repeat the process to see what changes.