What You Can Teach Your Kids About Money – For Parents and Grandparents of All Ages!

Scott McEachern |

In the last month, we’ve come across 4 or 5 parents whose main concern about our education system is the lack of learning real life skills. Grade 10 math focuses on Pythagorean Theorem, but nothing is taught about which bank account is best. Grade 11 focuses on finding the tip of parabola, but we aren’t taught how to do taxes. Grade 12 math starts using some formulas that gave me nightmares, but I didn’t learn how to budget or how to invest. Luckily, I learned all of this stuff in college, but that’s because I took a business course. Not everyone takes that route, so parents need to step in and/or step up and start educating children as we go forward.

Ages  0-5

The earlier you can teach your child about the value of money, the better. Now is good time to explain that money doesn’t grow on trees, or that money isn’t just produced on the spot from an ATM. Other great concepts to introduce are ‘you can’t always get what you want’ and the idea of a piggy bank.

Ages 6-10

At this age, some children start getting an allowance, and most children have responsibilities around the house. Kids generally understand that they have to work for their money and if they want a big ticket item they’ll have to save some of their money. Sesame Street has a great video titled “For Me, For You, For Later” that teaches children how to save, spend, and share their money. A link can be found here: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/save?gclid=Cj0KEQjwqNiwBRDnq93MioaqtKQBEiQAb7Ezn7reWhtl9C-sxvqVdUYLnPvUoPvxnRAGkKirH3AjeyEaAn-x8P8HAQ

Ages 11-15

Last year I volunteered to go to a public school and teach grade 6 and 7 students about budgeting, expenses, finding a job and career, among other things like what cell phones cost on a monthly basis. This was quite a unique experience for me because most of them hadn’t been exposed to money issues yet. For example, they thought rent would be $100/month. They also had did an eye-opening exercise and were quite saddened when they found out they couldn’t afford a car, a house, cable and internet while working part-time at the local pizza place. In the end, this exercise gave the students an appreciation for money and the hard work their parents do. One student mentioned she was going to go home and apologize for taking so long to have a hot shower because she didn’t know water bills were so expensive! This is the perfect age to teach kids what “adult” things cost – rent, mortgage, cable, cellphones, car, gas, insurance, etc.

Ages 16-20

This is the age that most kids get their first job and earn income from someone other than their parents. At this stage it they should understand the importance of saving some of their income for future expenses, like college tuition. Other important lessons students should learn once in college are:

1) OSAP isn’t free money, and must be paid back eventually
2) Credit cards have major drawbacks when used incorrectly (and at 19.99% interest!)
3) This is a good time to introduce what a budget is and how everyone should be spending less than they earn.


We’ve just scratched the surface on what we feel are some of the most important lessons in each age range. There are various sites all over the internet that go into much greater detail on every topic mentioned above, but the key is to broach the subject at a young age. Teach your children the value of money and the necessary budget skills when they get their first job. If they don’t learn from you, who else can they turn to for that essential life skill?