Money Conversation Starters for Kids

Use these free money conversation starters for kids to open up money dialogue in your household (plus keep the kids interested at dinner time and road trips). | http://www.moneyprodigy.com/money-conversation-starters-kids/

Use these fun, thoughtful money conversation starters for kids to liven up your family dinner + a road trip.

Money: the last frontier (cue the Star Trek opening music).

Not really.

But certainly in conversations.

It can be really difficult to bring up the topic with other adults, let alone for kids to ask their burning questions (especially if they’ve picked up on the idea that it’s not a topic that is eagerly discussed).

And it’s not your fault, Mama Bear. Chances are good that money conversations weren’t blooming in your household growing up either.

When I thumb through the mental archives of my own childhood, I can barely remember having a money conversation with my parents (outside of the usual, “can I have $7.00 for this field trip,” and “I need a new pair of sneakers, Mom,” of course).

What are things I held back on? I knew about this thing called “investing” when I was a teenager, and desperately wanted to get in on the action. So I had my stepmother drop me off at a bookstore and I purchased a book on investing. But feeling like a conversation about that with my parents was encouraged would have been very helpful as well (not to mention the amount of money I’d have in my IRA today if I had started back then!).

The good news? This is an area that you can certainly change, no matter what the reason for not having money conversations in your household is.

Your Deck of Money Conversation Starters for Kids

Download your free deck of money conversation starters for kids. These are meant to be really fun, provoke thoughtful (or downright silly) answers, and lighten up the air around money convos in your household.

Psst: Does the idea of your tween bringing up investing and other Stephen-King-scary money questions leave your knees wobbly? Don’t be afraid to say that you do not know the answer. Really. It’s that simple. Then you can either research something with them together (score on engaging with them in a  new activity), or ask a friend of a friend who might know about the subject at hand and be able to talk to them. You got this, Mama Bear!

There are two sets of questions in this free printable: pages 1-6 are the kid questions, and pages 7-12 are the adult questions.

You’ll want to cut them all out. Place all the kid questions into one jar, and all the parent questions into another. Take turns choosing from each jar, with either the person choosing the card having to answer it, or each person choosing a card for another family member to answer.

Where to Use these Money Conversation Starters for Kids

You can use these money conversation starters for kids around the dinner table (talk about a fun way to keep the kids engaged at dinner time!), on road trips, or even laminate them and twist a rubber band around the deck to keep in your purse and whip out the next time you + your kids have to wait, like at the doctor’s office.

Some of my favorites? Here’s a sneak peek.

Kid Examples:

  1. What is one belonging you’d like to keep forever because you think it’ll be worth money one day?
  2. Would you be willing to give up all video games for five years if someone paid you $1,000? How about $5,000?
  3. Look to the person to your left. What is one thing you would want to buy them if money was no object?

Parent Examples:

  1. What is one souvenir you regret buying on a vacation because you’d rather have the money back?
  2. You see an ad that details a way to make $10,000 in 5 days, money back guaranteed. Do you purchase the product to show you how to do this (it’s $135.99) or move on?
  3. Name something you cannot give up. Now, would you give it up for $50,000?

So, what are you waiting for? Download these today and start cracking the  money ice with your kiddos.

Teach Children to Save with this Compound Interest Detective Money Activity

Teach children to save by helping them discover the insane-coolness of compound interest with this money activity | http://www.moneyprodigy.com/teach-children-to-save-compound-interest-detective/

Teach children to save by helping them discover the insane-coolness of compound interest with this money activity

Compound interest − a phenomenon that you want to get cozy with − can be an abstract concept for your child.

Heck, it can be an abstract concept for us Mama Bears!

But it works whether anyone understands it or not. How cool is that?

Still, we want your child to get into the über-awesome habit of saving gobs of money for the rest of their lives, so we need them to discover the coolness of money earning its own money.

Here’s a trick for how to teach children to save: let them discover their own money earning its own money. Which of course, then, becomes part of their money.

Pssst: pay attention to how often your child’s savings account compounds; if you’re just setting up bank account for baby, then you’ll want to find one that compounds monthly or even daily for the most amount of earnings.

Money Activity to Teach Children to Save: Play Compound Interest Detective*

Detective Step #1: Gather two consecutive statements representing two compounding periods from your child’s savings account. So if the account is compounded monthly, gather two months’ worth of statements. And if your child’s account is compounded quarterly? You’ll need two quarter’s statements. Annually (yikes, you’re missing out on compound interest earnings over the long haul with this kind of setup)? Get two annual statements.

While seeing their statement online is cool, printouts are even better. Print it out if you can find it online, or call the bank and ask them to send you one by mail/email.

Detective Step #2: Have your child dig into the two statements for a few nuggets of information. They want to find and then highlight both the starting balance + the ending balance (after interest was added) on each statement.

At the bottom of each statement, if it’s not a line item somewhere, have them write down how much interest was earned (by subtracting the ending balance from the starting balance).

For example, let’s say they have $250 in their account at the beginning of the first statement’s month, compounding monthly, at 0.75% APY. It would have earned $1.56 in that first month, bringing the ending balance to $251.56. Then in the next month, the interest is calculated on $251.56 − not just the $250 − so it will have earned $1.57 instead of $1.56. Which then, of course, gets added onto the principal to become $253.13 for the following month.

Detective Step #3: Ask your child why their money earned less during the first month’s statement and why it earned more during the second month’s statement (so in the example above, why did it earn $1.56 in month 1, but $1.57 in month 2?).

They likely won’t know the answer. Cue your “compound interest” discussion.

Mama Bear Cliff Notes: Teaching your child about Compound Interest giving you a headache? Skip the sit-down and have your child watch Camp Millionaire’s video on Compound Interest instead (9:02 minutes).

Detective Step #4: Have your child do some further detective work and find out how often their account’s interest is compounded. If you can’t find the information in the teensy-weensy font at the bottom of your bank’s page, then just make a phone call and ask someone.

Bonus points that you show your child how to be proactive with finances by getting an answer!

Detective Step #5: Have your child input their savings information into this calculator to figure out which is a more advantageous way to earn money: compounded daily, monthly, quarterly, or annually?

Directions:

  • Open up the calculator. Fill in the current amount you have in savings for the “initial investment” amount. Then $0 for the “Contribute” amount, and then fill in the number of years left that they have until they take over the account (typically at age 18 or 21, depending on the state you live in) in Step #2. For Step #3, fill in their current savings account APY, but leave the “Range of interest rates” field blank. Finally, have them pick “Annually”  for Step #4. Click “Calculate”.
  • Record the amount that your money will have earned.
  • Repeat the above steps three more times, only replacing Step #4 each time to “semi-annually”, “monthly”, and “daily”, then clicking “Calculate”.

So for the example above ($250 initial investment, earning 0.75% APY, with 10 years to go), here’s how it plays out with the different compounding methods:

  • Annually: $269.40
  • Semiannually: $269.43
  • Monthly: $269.46
  • Daily: $269.47

Detective Step #6: Ask your child which is the best way to have money compounded (and by “best” I mean have them choose the compounding method that will earn their money the most amount of money).

Mama Bear Note: you really want to play up the fact that this is without your child adding one extra cent to this account. The savings just grows on its own!

Optional Detective Step #7: If your child is not entirely impressed with their approximate $19.40-$19.47 interest earnings (or whatever theirs comes out to be), have them fill in whatever amount they would like as the initial investment amount…sky is the limit. And of course the greater (or in this case, “larger”) their imagination, the more compound interest will come through.

I’d love to hear about any “aha” moments your child has as well as questions in the comments below!

4 Unique Grocery Store Games for Kids

4 Grocery Store Games for kids that don't involve weighing vegetables. Trust me, you'll WANT your child to learn these money lessons! |  http://www.moneyprodigy.com/4-unique-grocery-store-games-kids/

Grocery store games for kids you haven’t thought of before

I’ve been fortunate in that my husband watches our baby for the last 14 months once every other week yes, we only grocery shop twice a month − so that I can hit the grocery store alone.

Yes, it’s glorious.

*Cue wind in my hair as I peruse aisle 8 + lollygagging (yes, LOTS of lollygagging) around the vegetable bins.

But you know what? I’ll actually want to take our little guy to the grocery store when he’s old enough because there are valuable money lessons to be learned there.

And when I do? I’ll use some of these grocery store games for kids below.

Grocery Store Games for Kids #1: Generic Brand Ingredient Checker

Have a short discussion with your child about regular brands versus generic brands.

Mama Bear Cheat Tips:

  • Cost: Generic brands will likely always be cheaper (though sometimes a sale on a regular brand can beat the price).
  • Quality: Sometimes generic brands are not as high quality as the regular brand because they’ve cut corners on ingredients in order to bring the cost down. So you need to give it a try and see.
  • Coupons: Most of the time you cannot find coupons for generic brands, only for regular brands.

Once you are in the store, you’ll want your child to pick up a regular brand + its generic counterpart so that they can compare the prices + ingredients.

Some interesting products to try:

  • Pharmaceuticals: The pharmaceutical industry is closely regulated. So, “[g]eneric drugs are required to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand name product.” However, there can be different inactive ingredients.
  • Aluminum Foil: I have found that the generic version is almost always more thin than the regular brand. So this is a good one to bring home the lesson of quality + also the lesson of “sometimes less quality is still perfectly fine” (because let’s face it, the thin stuff works just as well as the thick stuff).

Grocery Store Games for Kids #2: Increase in Allowance in Proportion to Coupons Clipped

You read that right. Before hitting the grocery store one time (or often if this becomes popular in your household, as I suspect it will), have a sit down with your child.

You’ll need your grocery list already written out, plus a Sunday paper (and/or check out the following online coupon sites):

Here’s your child’s task: have them search the coupon inserts + clip/print any that could match with your list. So if you have tortillas on your list, and there is a brand with a coupon, then they are to clip that.

Psssst: Brand flexibility is key here, and it’s a short-term sacrifice for a lifelong lesson, Mama Bear.

Then at the grocery store put your child in charge of alerting you to when they have a coupon for a particular item. Have them find the item, verify that it’s the right size/variety, and add it to the cart.

At the cash register, have them hand over the coupons they were able to use.

The magical part of this? Every dollar they saved you by using a coupon they personally clipped equals an extra dollar they get tacked onto their allowance for the week.

I told you this one might get super popular in your household!

Grocery Store Games for Kids #3: Generic Brand Blind Taste Testing

Have your child choose 3 different products in your home that you normally buy at the grocery store each week (or bi-weekly if you’re like us).

This trip, have them choose both the regular brand product, as well as a generic version of it.

Note: if you get to the grocery store and there is no generic version to a product they chose, suggest another to them as you walk through your normal routine.

At home, have your child set up a blind test with family members.

On a table, set up both products to be taste tested so that no one can tell which product is the regular brand, and which product is the generic version (so take the product out of the containers and put them into a bowl or on a plate).

Put a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, listing the two products and their prices at the top of the sheet.

After tasting each of the three products, have each family member vote for which they like best. Reveal whether it was the regular brand or its generic version.

Have your child answer these four questions:

  1. Which product wins out?
  2. Are you guys ready to change to a generic version?
  3. Choose one product that you may or may not change to the generic version. Assuming you purchase this product once a month, how much money are you saving by getting the generic instead of the regular brand? Do this by subtracting the generic cost from the regular brand cost, then multiplying that price difference by 12 (to see annual savings).
  4. What else could the family do with that money?

Grocery Store Games for Kids #4: Cash Scanner

Give your child the official title of Cash Scanner by putting them in charge of getting cash back after you return home (heck, even in the car ride back).

They’ll need to download one or all of the following savings scanning apps to your smart phone (or their own if they have one), either the iPhone or Android.

Note: there are lots of these types of apps out there, but some are more complicated than others. These are the easiest ones to manage.

  • Walmart Savings Catcher App: This App only works at Walmart stores. My grandmother had accumulated over $80 in a year from it! You scan in your Walmart receipt, and the app automatically searches other stores’ sale prices for the week for the items you’ve purchased. They match those prices, and so you get cash back on anything you overpaid.
  • ReceiptPal App: You snap a photo of your receipt, it gets validated, and you earn points that can be cashed in for gift cards. Also, you can scan in receipts from any merchant to get points, such as from convenience stores, restaurants, clothing stores, gas stations, etc. FYI there’s a wait list to join because so many people are interested. I hope you get in!
  • ReceiptHog App: Snap photos of your receipts and receive “coins” you can use towards Amazon gift cards or Paypal cash. Yes, real cash! FYI there’s a wait list to join because so many people are interested. I hope you get in!

Receipts are about to become MUCH more interesting in your household!

Keep Savings Accounts for Kids from Collecting Dust with these 3 Money Activities

Savings accounts for kids tend to collect dust (moreso than money!). But yours doesn't have to. Check out these 3 money activities you can do with your kid, even if their account is particularly growing at the moment.

Savings accounts for kids don’t need to collect dust, even if they’re not particularly growing at the moment. Try out one or all of these 3 activities to keep your child’s money education going despite their stagnant balance.

Savings accounts for kids tend to collect dust over the years, just like scientific calculators − post-high school Statistics class − and baseboards behind couches (at least in our household).

Pssst…and if you haven’t actually opened a savings account for your child up yet? You’re in good company, Mama Bear! You’re one lunch hour away from knocking this task off your list of things you wish you could get done.

Whether your kid’s savings account is collecting dust or was just created, let’s sprinkle some Money Prodigy magic over it with these three money activities.

Money Activity #1: Give the Account a Purpose By Naming It

You may not have given consideration to the purpose of your child’s savings account. And that’s okay. Savings accounts for kids are often set up in order to save up for one of the biggies in their teenage/early adult lives, like their first car, first/last month’s deposit on an apartment, a study abroad opportunity, or college.

And your kid − aside from fantasizing about the money growing into enough to afford the latest and greatest Pokémon Go accessory − probably hasn’t given it much thought either.

Guess what else? Your idea for the savings account is probably going to be quite different from your child’s. After all, you’ve been in this thing called the “real world” for quite some time now. You aren’t wet behind the ears, and you know that this thing called life takes money.

This is the perfect opportunity to sit down with your child and ask them what they want the account’s purpose to be. But you need to add some context to this conversation.

Not enough to crush their dreams, but enough to steer their purpose-picking with a semi-realistic goal in mind.

Then after you do this? You’re going to help them change the name on the account to something fun that will remind them of the account’s purpose.

Rename the savings account the money goal.

Things to save for + name examples:

  • Vacation spending money: OCMD (that’s code for Ocean City Maryland for my non-East Coasters) Spending Money
  • First car: Sweet Sixteen Fund
  • College (though you can make this more specific to make it seem reachable, such as textbooks for the first two semesters): Textbooks!

Money Activity #2: Shop Around for the Best Interest Rate

I know, I know. Switching savings accounts for kids or becoming a “rate chaser” might not sound like a fun activity for YOU. But you know how you’ve already done lots of inconvenient things over the years − like allowing them to feed themselves with a spoon (the current phase we’re in) and picking out their own interesting outfits − to teach your children important lessons?

This is just another one of those.

You want your child to be hardwired to seek out money-earning opportunities, and one way to do this is have them look for the best interest rate deal. This activity will show them why doing so is worth lots of money to them over the long run.

Because let’s face the fact that − and if your kid’s savings account has been collecting dust over the years, then this can’t be illustrated any closer to home for you − we tend to keep what we have and not make a change. But if you were to find an account that had a 1% difference, over the years of just keeping it in the same place in the 1% higher account could make a BIG difference in the amount of money accumulated.

Step #1: Help your child to find the APY (Annual Percentage Yield) interest rate on their current savings account. This information is better than just the monthly interest rate because it takes into account compound interest when figuring out how much the bank account will earn them.

Step #2: Have your child research savings account interest rates online. If you’re uncomfortable letting them into the wild west of the internet alone, help them out. They are looking for different APY, or the annual interest rate a bank is offering on their accounts. Find a good aggregate savings rate site like NerdWallet.

Step #3: Have your child calculate the potential amount of money this new interest rate could earn compared with their current account. Have them use this compound interest calculator to create each of the two scenarios off a hypothetical amount of $1,000.

  • Use this compound interest calculator. Fill in $1,000 for the initial investment amount. Then $0 for the “Contribute” amount, and have them fill in the number of years left that they have until they take over the account (typically at age 18 or 21, depending on the state you live in) in Step #2. For Step #3, fill in your child’s current savings account APY. In that same step, have them fill out the new interest rate they can get from their research. Finally, have them pick however often the account is compounded (hopefully monthly). Click “Calculate”.

To analyze the results, hover your mouse over the chart. You want to pay attention to the “Base Interest Rate” (what their account is earning right now), and the “Variance Above Base Interest Rate”, or what they will earn with that new account.

Subtract the total earned from the new account from the base interest rate earnings on the last point on the chart. How much would opening this new account earn them in extra interest?

Step #4: Discuss the pros and cons of switching the account based on the interest rate (if you find a higher one).

Pros and Cons Cheat Sheet:

  • Does the new account have any fees the old account does not? Or vice versa?
  • Is one a brick-and-mortar bank and the other an online-only bank?
  • Time it takes to switch an account and re-associate any accounts back to it
  • Convenience of making deposits

Step #5: Decide together if you want to switch accounts or not.

Money Activity #3: Create a Savings Account Statement Binder

Yes, we’re a society that has moved from paper to paperless. But moving back to paper statements for your child’s sake could really teach them some good money lessons.

Step #1: Go ahead and switch to “Paper” statements on your child’s savings account.

Step #2: Have them pick out a cool new binder + give it a name (like “My Savings Binder”), or decorate an old one you have around the house.

Step #3: Each time a statement comes in the mail for them (how cool that they’ll receive actual mail with their name on it!), have them punch holes in it and add it to the binder in chronological order. This is the perfect opportunity for them to note the beginning and ending balances, and how interest earned has changed that. It also might get them more excited to put some of their allowance into their savings account, a win for everyone.

Which one are you most excited about doing with your little one?