Making Sense of Cents

With the start of summer, I thought I would share some resources available for youth about money. Teaching youth about money is like building a strong foundation for a house. The strong foundation will last a lifetime and support everything that is built on top of it. For example, early discussions about the difference between wants and needs is a simple concept that youth can understand. An individual needs to eat, but they don’t need the candy bar at the check-out line. This blog will focus on resources, especially books, that teach youth about money.

So let us begin with the Money as You Grow materials available by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The site contains materials for all ages of youth, but for this blog I will focus on resources for younger youth. There is a list of books suggested that focus on money skills which can be found at Build your child’s money skills while you read. There is also information on ideas to keep reading fun and a guide for parents.

Another great resource is the Federal Reserve Bank system. Each regional office has a host of financial resources. The two that I primarily use are the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. There include both online games as well as printed materials. I like to use the Great Minds Think: A New Guide to Money and My Money. Both are workbooks that can be ordered or downloaded which include several activities that promote personal finance.

If you would like a broader search you can use the Jump$tart coalition. There are over 100 organizations and state coalitions that make up the coalition that focuses on advancing youth financial literacy. Their site includes a list of resources. A quick search of children and money found 162 resources available.

I would also invite you to check out my Extension colleagues in 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences. There are local offices in every county, in every state in the U.S. A resource available to you from 4-H is Reading Makes Cents. This booklet includes 53 activities focused on saving, spending, sharing, earning, and borrowing.

I encourage you to take a step forward and teach your youth about finances. As you are aware, this is a topic youth will deal with throughout their lifetime. With that said, start your youth on a solid foundation.

Teaching Youth About Money

Your kids are in the middle of summer and loving it. The thought of no classes or homework is exciting for youth. As a parent, you may be concerned about your children spending too much time in front of the television and playing video games, especially this summer with limited options for kids due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Although kids may be a little resistant to summer learning, it’s never too early to start teaching children about smart money management. I would like to give you an option for your children between the ages of 9 and 12 to begin learning about finances this summer. If you don’t have children, keep reading, as you may want to share with others. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has an activity book that introduces youth to basic financial concepts. The activity book, Great Minds Think, A New Guide to Money, can be downloaded or ordered as a print workbook. The activities cover four broad concepts important for understanding responsible money management — decision-making, saving, spending, and budgeting.

This entertaining workbook is full of activities, developed for youth ages 9 to 12. This is an important age for kids who may begin earning allowances or chore money, and developing skills that will be essential when they are able to take on official jobs as teenagers. Kids are given an activity to complete, followed by an opportunity to apply that concept to their personal situations. Throughout the book are terms with definitions. At the end of the book there is a money crossword and links for additional information to include some money games available online. 

The book is relatively short with only 20 pages in total, but it is designed to act as a companion to parental help. Each of the four sections take an hour or less to complete, and after each lesson, you should take time to discuss the concepts with your child. You can share how that concept applies to your own life and your family’s budget. You may even find you learn something in the process. 

If you are interested in more books for your children about money, check out the blog that I wrote for Reading and Financial Literacy month. The blog shares information about the Money as Your Grow Bookshelf by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Enjoy your summer!