How do I teach my kids and grandkids about money? - Small Legacies

How do I teach my kids and grandkids about money?

By Kendra Johnson

Money is a tricky topic for to talk about. It's very personal and it's hard to break the stigma that it's "rude" to talk about finances. But of course, if we don't talk about financial education and money openly with our children and grandchildren, how will they learn what to do?

One of the first things people think of when they hear "Legacy" is money. Here at Small Legacies we like to focus on building memories and passing down important life skills, and money is a big part of that. So this week we want to offer a few tips for how you can guide the children in your life to a better understanding of personal finance. 


So, as a parent or grandparent, how can we make a difference in how children will understand money?

Financial literacy for kids is something we hope to see more of in the schools, but often it's up to parents and grandparents to teach these important life skills to the kids ourselves.

Here's how we can do that:

1. Narrate everyday routines with money. 

It's ok to talk about money and finances around your close family! I'm going to say that again. It's OK to talk about money and finances around your close family! In fact, everyone will benefit greatly, learning from your experiences that you share!

If you are running errands or shopping online, talk about the process with kids no matter how old they are. Phrases you might use could be:

  • "Oh, I just need to balance my checkbook to make sure I know how much money I spent this week"
  • I have about $100 left in my grocery budget this month. 
  • Ooo! I like these items, but It's not quite in this week's budget. I'll save up and get them next week. 
  • I have to pay a few bills today. I want to always make sure they get paid on time. 

These are everyday actions we all go through, but by narrating these routines out loud when kids of all ages are around, it shows them that managing finances is an important and normal routine to be continually thinking about. 

2. Talk to the kids about your money goals. 

Kids are curious! (Adult kids too!) If you are planning to retire in a certain location, talk to them about it! Show them pictures. Explain how you are saving up to do so.

If you need or want to get new windows for the living room, share that with them too and take them along to look at windows at Home Depot. (Although I recommend not having the littlest ones around when the actual purchasing date arrives). 

3. Include the kids in fun purchases. 

It's tradition in my family that grandpa likes to get up early and buy donuts. Next time you have a sleepover with the grandkids, have one or two of the kids go to the grocery store with you and give them a few dollars to help you pay for the donuts. This allows kids to build an understanding that these fun little luxuries cost money. 

4. Use tools to help teach financial literacy. 

I use a give-save-spend piggy bank with my boys to help them learn the value of giving to others, saving for something big, and spending on small things. 

I've also been working to develop a full variety of educational videos and lesson resources on teaching kids about money. 

Fun resources for financial education for kids:

If you haven't already, be sure to download our discussion guide all about the Give-Save-Spend model of financial literacy.  



Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.


Comment 1

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