9 Ways To Teach Your Kids the Value of Money

It’s never too early to learn about personal finance, especially when the lessons are fun. Now that summer’s in full swing, here are 9 summer challenges you can do with your kids to prepare them for their financial future and enjoy some quality family time along the way.

9 Fun Summer Challenges for Kids & Families

1. The No-Spend Weekend Challenge

One of the most important ways to teach kids the value of money (and the habit of saving) is to remind them that the best things in life are free. Help your kids learn that fun doesn’t have to cost a thing by planning an exciting, money-free weekend. In fact, planning it can be the first part of the challenge!

Game nights and treasure hunts (complete with clues and home-made treasure maps) are exciting ways to spend time together at home. Or create a family photo “slideshow”! Choose photos that come with family stories, have the kids add their favorites, and maybe even include a few from your own childhood—or of the kids’ grandparents and great-grandparents. 

No matter what you decide to do together, making it a special family event with a favorite meal and uninterrupted quality time is a fantastic way to build lifelong memories without reaching for your wallet.

2. The “Toy Store” Challenge

When it’s time to teach your younger kids about earning, spending, and saving money, the “toy store” challenge is sure to capture their attention. Set up a play “store” and stock it with simple toys your kids would enjoy. Be sure to offer at least one item that’s highly enticing, and give that one the most expensive price tag. Include other toys that “cost” less for your child to “buy” but that aren’t quite as exciting.

Introduce a system for earning money or tokens based on chores or achievements. Harder chores that take more time and effort to complete should “pay” more. Count your kids’ tokens with them each evening, and help them figure out how much longer they’ll need until they’ll have enough for the toy (or toys) they want.

3. The Save, Share, Spend Challenge

Young kids like to be able to see their money and hold it in their hands. That’s why piggy banks have been around forever. For the save, share, spend challenge, label three clear jars as Save, Share, and Spend. (Or buy a ready-made version like the Moonjar Moneybox.) Give your kids ways to earn money with chores or good behavior, and pay them in coins so they can divide their earnings among the 3 banks. 

Whenever they get paid, start by putting some coins in the savings jar so they get in the habit of preparing for a rainy day. Then, set aside some coins for sharing so they’re mindful of helping others. Finally, put money in the spending jar. Challenge your child to save up enough for something they really want, or to earn a certain amount to donate to a special cause.

4. The Matching Funds Challenge

To encourage your kids to put more of their money toward saving and sharing, introduce the idea of matching funds. Match their “saving” and/or “sharing” funds up to a certain amount each week. They’ll see right away how much farther their money goes when they max out those contributions—a powerful life lesson they’ll actually enjoy learning. 

Pick a cause together, and challenge them to “earn” a certain amount for that cause, including those matching contributions. When they reach their goal, be sure to celebrate the win. Show them how proud you are when they turn over that donation to the cause you’ve picked out, and make sure they know what their money is helping to provide for the people who need it.

5. The Chore Jar Challenge

This one works for kids of almost any age although you might want a different jar for each kid. Take a stack of popsicle sticks and write a chore on each one along with a “wage” for that chore. Next time your kid wants money for something, send them to the chore jar!

Offer more money for tasks that are more challenging (or more dreaded), and let your child decide how they want to earn the cash they need. You can still provide a base allowance for things you want your kids to do every week. The chore jar lets them do extra work for extra money, a lesson you can never learn too early.

6. The BusyKid Challenge

Ready to take chores to a whole new level? Try BusyKid, the free app that teaches kids about earning, saving, and investing. For ages 6–16, BusyKid lets you set up chores for your kids. As they complete those chores, your kids check them off in the app. You approve the chores they finish, and the app moves the money they earned from your account to theirs. 

BusyKid then allocates that money toward saving, donating, and investing. You decide how much of their chore money goes toward each bucket. For the money they donate, your kids can pick where their money goes from a list of charities like American Red Cross. For their investing money, they can choose their own very real stocks. 

The app won a 2020 National Parenting Product Award for its innovative approach to teaching kids about finances and has donated thousands of dollars to charities across the country.

7. The Real-Money Investing Challenge

Want to skip the chores and get straight to the investing? Stockpile is an investing app that can help your kids learn about investing in a controlled environment. Setting up a custodial account is easy, and the app lets you buy fractional shares of stocks, so if your kids want to invest in their favorite Disney characters, they don’t need the full stock price to do it.

The app also provides mini lessons in investing and lets your kids share a stock wish list with friends and family. The adult on the account doesn’t have to be a parent, so grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, or anyone over 18 can set up the account. Once the kids turn 18, the assets in the account are legally theirs. Challenge your kid to add to their investments. Fund different stocks and race against each other. Or challenge them with matching funds and watch those investments grow.

8. The Fake-Money Investing Challenge

If you’re not ready to take the plunge with real money, the Best Brokers stock market simulation game is a free app for iOS and Android that uses real stock prices to let your kid (or you) try their hand at investing without any risk. But it’s more than just a game. It’s also designed to teach your kid about real investing.

The app offers fun introductory videos and FAQs on trading basics. The videos link to Youtube, but that just saves space on your phone since you don’t have to download the videos when you get the app. There’s also a news reader with real news from CNN Money Markets and CNBC. Want to add your own feeds? No problem. There’s an RSS reader built in. 

Start with 25,000 to invest, buy and sell stocks in the app’s trading center, and watch your virtual money grow (or shrink) over time. (If the prices seem a little off, that’s because technically you’re fake trading in euros, not dollars.) You can even invite your friends to play, and watch the leaderboards to see who has the best return. When you challenge your kids to learn about investing, the whole family wins.

9. The Small Business Challenge

Starting a small business might seem like a big endeavor, but there are a lot of ways to get started that practically come with step-by-step instructions. The experience is invaluable, and it looks great on college applications.

Is your kid a crafter? Consider an Etsy store. A writer? Help them publish a short story on Kindle. A web designer or graphic artist? Help them join Fiverr or Upwork. Whatever they love doing, Entrepreneur magazine offers these 5 tips for helping your kidpreneur:

  1. Let them start by dreaming big. Don’t limit those wild ideas.
  2. Help them set goals for making those ideas happen.
  3. Celebrate success and help them find the opportunities in setbacks.
  4. Help them craft a simple business plan.
  5. Invest in their plan—with your time as much as your money.

Whatever you choose, summer is the perfect time to help your kids move their financial knowledge forward. With a notable lack of financial literacy in their school curriculum, it’s up to families to help them prepare for the future. For more summer challenge ideas, check out these 12 Fun Summer Money Challenges.