As a financial consultant and creator of interactive financial education experiences, I enjoy the learning that takes place when children experience financial concepts, terminology, and strategies first hand. You don’t have to be a financial professional to begin teaching your children financial literacy. In fact, you are your child’s first financial advisor and educator. The financial transactions your child observes you making can greatly influence your child’s financial future.
Look for opportunities during your daily routines to engage children in financial and business transactions. Below are some examples that you can use to create memorable experiences. Some of these I still remember from my childhood:
Financial transactions during meals
… when ordering a meal at a restaurant with a cashier, give the child cash to make their meal purchase. Make sure they have more cash than the cost of the meal. Allow them to approach the counter alone and interact with the cashier by ordering their meal, exchanging their cash for their order, and receiving change. After receiving their meal, ask if they got what they ordered.
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A few tips to prepare the child for making their meal purchase:
Financial Life Lessons & Teachable Moments
- Discuss what the child wants to order and make sure they identify the total cost for their meal (drink, dessert, etc.)
- Ask them how many dollars is needed to buy their meal.
- Remind them to wait for their change after giving their money to the cashier.
- Do a practice run allowing the child to tell you what they plan to order.
There may be an occasion when the child does not receive the correct change. In this instance, discuss with the child the correct change due. Then, instruct the child to go back to the counter and inform the cashier that they did not receive the correct change and ask for the correct amount. Be there to support the child, but allow the child to talk with the cashier directly to correct the issue.
During the first experience, you and the child will both be nervous but after a few attempts your child will feel very confident communicating with adults and handling everyday basic financial transactions when making a purchase.
In another scenario, you can set a limit the child can spend that requires them to make a decision about what items they can afford with the money you’ve provided. For example, the child may have to order the free cup of water rather than a non-free drink to fit within their budget.
Try these suggestions with your students or children! Let’s continue the financial life lessons and teachable moments!
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