Your girl is going to need to know how make smart decisions when negotiating pay, budgeting, spending, saving, and investing later in life—and it’ll all be a lot easier for her if she starts learning now. And the great news is that you don’t have to be a financial whiz to help her learn all about money matters. Borrow these fun (yes, we said fun!) ways to help your daughter get comfortable managing money. She’ll learn a lot in the process, and you just might pick up a thing or two as well!
1. Play with money
When your girl is old enough to do very basic math (addition and subtraction), get some fake money at a toy store, or make your own using colorful construction paper—your girl can help!—and then set up a “shop” with some of her toys and books. Put prices on the objects and then give her some of the fake money to spend. She’ll love play-acting a situation she sees you in all the time at the market or department store, and she’ll get a healthy dose of financial literacy training out of it, too!
2. Get competitive
Designate one evening each week to “game night” and choose games that involves buying, selling, budgeting, investing, and money strategies in general. Classics like Monopoly and The Game of Life are obvious choices, but newer games including The Settlers of Catan teach an even richer variety of financial lessons, including the value of relationships and partnerships, patience (she should know there’s no such thing as a legit get rich quick scheme!), and the importance of diversifying your investments.
3. Let her be a CEO
Running her own business is a sure-fire way to help her understand the value of hard work and the satisfaction of earning, but make sure to help her learn the all-important lessons of how she handles the money she earns once she’s closed up shop. Programs like the Girl Scout Cookie program help girls set financial goals, handle transactions, keep track of her earnings, and budget for the things she wants to spend them on. These kinds of hands-on experiences will help her thrive as she becomes a financially independent adult. So, whether she’s selling lemonade or Thin Mints, make sure to talk to your girl about her experiences and encourage her along the way!
4. Help her finance a party
Her birthday is such a special time of year—a time to recognize her growth and the joy she brings to your family every day—but it can also be a perfect time to help her hone her money skills—especially if you’re planning to host a party in her honor. At least a month in advance, tell your girl that since it’s her big day, you want her to be able to make some of the important decisions involving what it will be like, how many guests will be invited, and where it will be held. Sit down with her and help her make a list of all the things she’d like to have at her party. Perhaps those include a cake, decorations, entertainment, a fun activity, and snacks. Make sure to also discuss location—having it at home won’t cost a dime, but hosting the party at the local roller rink or laser tag arena will take a chunk out of her budget! Once she’s come up with her list, help her find out the prices for each of the things she wants (even if they’re outlandish!). If her “dream party” comes in over budget—and it’s not a bad thing if it does—help her prioritize the elements that are most important to her and spot places where she might be able to save a few dollars. If she really wants to have her party at the zoo, but the cost of admission eats up a bunch of the budget, perhaps she invites fewer friends. Or if the fancy cake she’d been thinking of will cost a bundle, perhaps she can make a simpler cake at home. In the end, she’ll feel ownership and pride in the event, and will take away a ton of money smarts, too!