Cash Register Games: More Than, Less Than Money Play

Looking for pretend play ideas for girls OR boys? This DIY preschool (+) activities + includes one of my fave learning printables so you can set up intentional money cash register games. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/cash-register-games-less-money-play/

Through cash register games like this one, gently introduce some money context to your kid’s world. Start with this game of More Than, Less Than, then have them set their own inventory prices for pretend play.

Pricing inventory. It’s something that can make biz owners cringe (ask me how I know!). I mean, we have to answer icky questions like how much would someone pay for your product? How much did you spend to create it or source it? How much do similar items on the market go for and should your product even be placed in the same category as those?

Of course, it’s all a numbers game (even though it feels like an emotional one).

So, while it might not excite you (or me), having your child go through the motion of pricing their own store’s inventory can skyrocket their money understanding in terms of providing some sort of context to what things actually cost.

I mean, how else do they know how much a steak costs in relation to how much a granola bar costs? What about a container of yogurt versus a carton of ice-cream?

Let’s bring a little more intentional money play to your child’s next toy cash register play session with this More Than, Less Than Money Activity.

Money Activity Needs + Prep Work

Step #1: Come Up with a List of Food Items

Your kid(dos) need a list of food items (aka, their inventory) that they’re going to price before cash register play begins.

Note: If you’re using the three sheets of food items + prices I’ve included in the free printable, then here’s your list: jar of pickles, apple, fish, bunch of bananas, ketchup, box of pasta, tomatoes, milk, ground beef, loaf of bread, onions, orange, whole chicken, 1 jar of spice.

Step #2: Price the Food Items

Your kid needs to see how much these food items cost in the real world so that they can price them for their store.

There are two ways you can set this, either in-home, or at an actual store.

The In-Home Version

Don’t want to leave the comfort of your home? No problem. You can use the three sheets of items/prices in the free printable.

Also, that’s what sales flyers are for!

Major Grocery Stores Weekly Ads Locator (put in your zip code to find the ad for your local store):

The In-Store Version

Grab a clipboard, and Page 2 of Your More Than, Less Than Activity Kit Printable and take your child to the store either during your next grocery store visit or as a dedicated trip just for this activity.

Have them go through the process of finding each item (with some guidance), going to the right aisle, and writing in the price that they find.

Step #3: Compare Costs of Items

Have your kid(dos) fill in Page 5 of the free More Than, Less Than printable. They’ll start to see whether or not tomatoes cost more than ground beef, or if a gallon of milk costs less than a whole chicken.

Step #4: Price Inventory

Now that they’ve seen a comparison of what things cost in relation to one another, they’ll have a better idea of how to price their own inventory.

They don’t need to use the exact same prices as the ones they discovered; they just need to price those items correctly in relation to one another.

For example, your child found that a box of cereal costs $3.99 at the store. They can price that box of cereal in their own inventory for however much they’d like, so long as it costs less than the ice-cream on their list (which costs more around $4.99 for a carton).

See how that works out? You’re giving your child some real-world money context so that they can price their items accordingly instead of using some pie-in-the-sky price off the top of their heads.

Ready for more? Now, the rest of their toy cash register play can begin.

How to Set Up Teachable Money Play Using Your Kid’s Toy Cash Register

Do you DIY your kid's toy cash register play? Kids do pretty well with pretend grocery store play. But why not take that up a notch by introducing more intentional money play with your kid's toy cash register? Get my FREE Money Player Starter Kit to show you how. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/set-teachable-money-play-using-kids-toy-cash-register/

A toy cash register is awesome for your child to play with. But don’t you want to set up a bit more intentional money play from time-to-time? Let me show you how.

Got a shiny new toy cash register for your child and, while they think it’s cool, there’s no real direction from you on what to do with it?

Perhaps it’s not-so-new, but you’d like to introduce more intentional money play for your child.

I’ve got steps below to show you how to start with some intentional money play with your kid’s toy cash register.

Money Activity Needs + Prep Work

Step #1: Choose Who Plays Shop Clerk and Who Plays Customer

You’ll need at least two players for this toy cash register activity (pssst: Yes, Mama Bear, you can be one of them!). Decide who is going to play Shop Clerk, and who is going to play Customer, then cut out their badges, fill in their names, and put them on.

Step #2: Help Your (Shop Clerk) Child Price their Inventory

This particular Play & Learn Cash Register by The Learning Journey that I used when writing this article comes with 12 different food options and 12 different price options. You can mix and match between the two.

To create an intentional money play activity for your child, ask them to come up with a list of what they want to charge for each food item as prep for the actual play (you can use Page 2 of the Money Play Starter Kit free printable).

  • 12 Food items: whole chicken, 6 eggs, 3 carrots, 1 steak, 1 hot dog, 1 box of cereal, grapes, cheese, cookie, 1 box of rice, 1 apple, 1 carton of milk
  • 12 Prices: $2.25, $3.15, $0.65, $1.85, $4.05, $3.75, $2.40, $1.00, $0.90, $2.60, $3.00, $1.50

You can base this off of a coupon circular you found from your local grocery store, a trip to your actual grocery store to get a range of what these particular items cost, or just allowing them to make a guess and go with it.

Tip: Is your child very particular about cash register prices lining up with the circulars? They can just use the food selector wheel on the left-side (images of the food items) of the Play & Learn Cash Register by The Learning Journey, and then make up their own prices based off of the circulars. Write down the prices they choose on their list, and go off of that.

Step #3: Help Your (Customer) Child Make a Shopping List

Now it’s your Customer’s turn to make a list for their store play! Use Page 3 of the Money Play Starter Kit free printable.

Here’s some ideas for how to get them to decide on what they want:

  • Write down each of the 12 items that are available, and let your child circle which ones they’d like to buy.
  • Help them search for a recipe they could make with some of the 12 items offered to them. Could be some fun imagination play. Could be a search on com where you enter whatever ingredients you have on hand they give you recipes that match.
  • Whatever their heart desires.

Step #4: Divvy up the Cash

Your toy cash register comes with pretend money, and you’ll need to divvy this up between both the Shop Clerk – to make change – and the Customer – to make purchases.

Hint: You’ll want to give more of the big bills to the Customer than to the Shop Clerk, and you’ll probably want to give more change and smaller bills to the Shop Clerk than to the Customer to make the process of giving change simpler. You can also supplement with your own jar of change!

Step #5: Introduce a “Restock” Day

Want to take your child’s play up a level? Introduce a Restock Day after a certain amount of time has passed, like 30 minutes, or 5 Customer transactions. Use Page 4 of the Money Play Starter Kit to set up the rules ahead of time, including the wholesale cost of restocking the store.

This means two different things to the two different roles being played:

  • Shop Clerk: On Restock Day, they need to repurchase the items available in their store (the images on the cash register scroll). And if they don’t have enough money to? Then have them choose what they can afford to restock, while putting an “X” on a list to tell the Customer what is not available.
  • Customer: On Restock Day, these guys get a paycheck. Decide ahead of time what an appropriate amount would be to give to them based on their age and the context of this game.


Remember, the whole idea is to start getting your child to think about the world in terms of money. The activities and steps above will help them to do that through the food they eat, and store transactions that they have probably watched you go through over the years.

So, which step are you most interested in implementing? Any other ideas you came up with after reading through these? I’d love to hear about them below.

Family Dinner Games with a Money Twist: Everest Avalanche Dessert Breakout Box

Looking for fun family dinner games for kids (that ALSO teach your child how to save money)? Get my free printable: Dessert Breakout Box - Avalanche on Everest for a really fun reason for your kids to BEG to come to dinner tonight. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/family-dinner-games-money-twist-everest-avalanche-dessert-breakout-box/

Family dinner games that will teach your kid a specific money lesson + have them begging to sit around the table? #MamaWins.

Mama Bears? You’re about to reach cool-Mom status. Not only that, but your kids will actually want to sit down to a family meal tonight.

Why is that?

On my quest to figure out innovative + experiential ways to teach your kids about money, I’ve come up with an idea that takes the cake (or brownie, or M&Ms, or Heath bars…).

It’s a Dessert Breakout Box. And it’s going down tonight, at your dinner table.

What does this have to do with teaching your kids about money? Well…they have to solve a money puzzle to actually break into dessert tonight.

What is a Dessert Breakout Box Anyway? Plus a Sneak Peek at the Storyline

Breakout boxes are pretty cutting edge in the education realm. Breakout EDU is leading the way with their idea to take an escape room − where a group of people get together and figure out puzzles to escape the room for entertainment − and bringing it to the classroom. They’ve got a stellar Breakout EDU kit, and then there are hundreds of challenges + adventures you can get to go along with it.

I mean, what kid (or adult, for that matter) wouldn’t want to get their hands on one of these?

I’m feeding off this escape-room-turned-box idea even more by bringing it to your dining room table.

And the lessons your kids will learn? Are all about money.

Everest Avalanche Storyline (Sneak Peek)

There’s an oxygen-deprived mad man on the mountain! Your kiddo is part of an expedition team who is stuck up at Camp 1 due to an avalanche cutting off their path. While they wait for helicopter rescue, they  notice that one of their teammates has gone a little crazy. In his oxygen-deprived state, he’s heading UP the mountain instead of down. Even worse, he’s boxed up dessert with a lock and set sneaky codes your kid will need to break in order to get dessert tonight. Not a good thing when your food supply is dwindling anyway.

In order to break into this box and eat the dessert, your kiddo will need to solve one of the three money puzzles included as part of this free printable. It’s your choice which one (and feel free to use the other two for other memorable family dinner games)!

Pre-Work Overview + Details

Mama Bear, you get to choose from one of the three money puzzles that your child has to complete in order to break into their dessert box.

The three money puzzles are:

  1. Money Puzzle #1: Emergency Fund Balance
  2. Money Puzzle #2: Derailed Savings Plan
  3. Money Puzzle #3: Savings Account Purpose

You can pick by: divvying up a different puzzle to each child, choosing one puzzle for the whole family to solve, or by the money lesson you’d like your child to take away from the dinner table tonight.

Get the instructions + free printables by clicking to subscribe below:

How to Get Your Kid(dos) to Beg to Sit down to Dinner Tonight

Get your kid(dos) to beg to sit down to dinner tonight by leaking various hints throughout the day about what’s going down at family dinner time tonight.

Such as:

:: Write on a kitchen chalkboard your dinner menu + “Dessert: Held Captive”
:: Watch the family-appropriate Everest DVD Beyond the Edge with your kids, and tell them their hint for tonight’s dessert is in it
:: [Insert your own idea!]

Use this Dessert Breakout Box to add a second course to dinner the kids will never forget.

Money Metropolis Review: Saving Money Game for Kids

Fun money games for kids (even 2nd graders) that you can get for free? Here's my review of Money Metropolis, plus how to score yours for free (yes, without paying S&H). Definitely include this in your list of learning activities when teaching your kid(dos) about money (psst: includes 4 money convos to have with your child to extend these lessons into real life!) | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/money-metropolis-review-saving-money-game-kids/

Look no further for a Money Metropolis Review. Also, don’t forget you can play this game free online, or get your own free copy (plus several other free video games about money) in the mail, without even paying Shipping & Handling!

Ages: 7-12 years
Objective
: Player chooses a savings goal for a particular item they’d like, then attempts to reach that savings goal through a series of earning opportunities, spending opportunities, and rounds of allowance.

Does your child need a place to start with learning about money? And particularly, with learning about how to set a savings goal and achieve it?

Money Metropolis is a free video game that your child can play either online or in their home (yes, free video games without paying shipping or handling do exist! At least when it comes to teaching kids about money).

Before your kid(dos) get started, let me give you a review of what they’ll be doing, and what they’ll be learning.

How Money Metropolis Works

Here’s the basics of how Money Metropolis works:

  • Choose a Savings Goal: Your child will choose one of three savings goals (in the form of an item they wish to purchase, such as a $350 plane ticket), each with a varying dollar amount.
  • Choose an Avatar: Your kid then gets to create an avatar to use within the game.
  • Prance Around the Metropolis: After that, your child has a lot of free reign. They get to prance around from shop to gas station, to neighbor’s house earning money (like pump gasoline for $10, babysit a sleeping baby for $15), spending money, and (hopefully) watching their virtual bank accounts grow towards that savings goal. Your child will get an allowance as well, at $15 a pop.

What I Like about Money Metropolis

As a Certified Financial Education Instructor + Personal Finance blogger of 9 years, there are a few things I’d like to talk about that I think are real assets your child will learn from this game.

  • It Takes Money to Earn Money: We’ve all heard this phrase, and if you’re like me, then you even rolled your eyes at the notion a few times. But…it’s kinda In the world of Money Metropolis, I like how your child is forced to purchase certain tools to earn the money for a specific job (such as buying a rake at the general store to rake someone’s yard).
  • Earnings are in Proportion to the Savings Goals: What I like about the amounts used in this game is that they are reasonable compared with the overall savings goal. For example, when I pumped gas, I was bombarded with about 15 cars and only earned $10. My overall goal to purchase was a plane ticket at $350. So, it shows children that it could take a lot of work at low-paying jobs to actually save up for something.
  • Reinforces the Idea of Doing a Good Job, Not Just Getting it Done: This game also reinforces the idea of doing a good job at something (even though the work is done only by pressing buttons) because if you mess up, you don’t get paid. For example, I “crashed” the mower too many times, so I wasn’t paid at Luke’s house.
  • Gives Temptations: We’re surrounded by temptations in real life, so I like that your child is faced with several spending temptations that will stretch the time it takes to save up for their actual goal out if they choose it. For example, at Nora’s Arcade where they can play a fun Pac-man like game that will cost them $1.
  • Savings Goal is Front and Center: Your child can, at any time, click on “Your Budget” button in the left-hand side of the screen to see how much money they’ve saved, how much they’ve spent, and their total. This is important info!

4 Money Convos to Extend these Lessons to In Real Life (IRL)

The money lessons in Money Metropolis only go so far. Just like with any money lesson, the best way to use it is to also have discussions with your child to make sure they take away more of the deeper money lessons and not just the superficial ones.

I’ve broken down a few talking points for you, Mama Bear, to really extend these lessons to real life:

  • Breaking Even Comes Before a Profit: Discuss with your child the start-up costs that you’ll need to break even with before you will make a profit on. For example, if they buy a rake for $20, they’ll want to use it at least twice to get their money back (break-even), and three times+ is when they’ll actually start profiting from their purchase/investment.
  • Bigger Investments Could Mean Higher Profits: Some kids are shy to spend a large sum of money at once. And let’s face it – when you’re a kid, a “large” sum of money could be $13. In Money Metropolis, higher-paying jobs (such as delivering newspapers) takes more investment up front to get started ($100 for a bike) …but you also earn more money per job ($25 instead of $10 at the gas station). You’ll need to deliver papers at least 4 times to break even, and at least 5 times to make a profit. A leaf blower costs $40, and gets the job done faster…which is a good thing because you’ll need to rake more yards in order to make a profit after buying that.
  • Your Time is Valuable, So Choose a Wise Savings Goal: I like that it takes some real time to reach your savings goal in Money Metropolis. After playing it for 15 minutes and not being close to the $350 I needed for what I wanted to buy…I found myself getting a little bored + looking at a clock. Then I started wondering, how many times during the day do we look at the clock while working? It’s good to introduce the idea that money should be valued and what we choose to save for should be really important to us as it’s our time that we’re using up in order to earn for it.
  • Ask Your Child about a Real Savings Goal They Have: Talk about something your child wants to save up for. Choose the goal, have them research how much it will cost to achieve. Now, spring boarding from them playing this game, ask them to come up with a list for things they can do to make extra money (either in your home or elsewhere). Discuss with them the idea that the more they do something, the more better and efficiently they do it (and can then eventually raise prices). Ask them how much they should charge for their service right now. At that price, have them calculate out how many times they’ll need to do that service in order to meet their savings goal (Savings Goal/Earnings from 1 Service = # of Times they’ll Need to Do it).

Overall, I like Money Metropolis. I think it will not only teach your child a few money lessons if they play on their own, but it also serves as a good money conversation starter between you and your kiddo using the talking points above.

9 Money Books to Read Your Kid to Ready them for their First Store Transaction

Move on from pretend store play + cash register games for kids. Use these 9 books & the bonus store money activities to help your child make their first store transaction! How exciting. |  https://www.moneyprodigy.com/9-money-books-read-kid-ready-first-store-transaction/

Trade in those cash register games for kids for these books. Use the Mama talking points to prep your child for their first store transaction.

That first store transaction. You know, where your kid actually hands over money (perhaps their own, perhaps yours) to buy their very first item.

It’s exciting! It’s nerve-wracking!

And it’s also a key milestone in your child’s money development.

Because one day, Mama Bear, they’ll be making ALL the transactions in their life by themselves. And you want them to be prepared for that, right?

I’ve curated 9 money books to read your child in prep for their first store transaction. Also included are a few talking points for you to help associate what they’re reading with what they’re going to do eventually themselves.

Money Book #1: Sheep in a Shop, Nancy Shaw

Age Range: 2-3 years old

This is the perfect book to show your very young kiddo what the purpose of a store is for: to go with money with something specific in mind that you want to buy.

A group of sheep are on the mission to purchase a birthday gift. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough in their piggy bank for what they want to buy. So, they learn to barter for it!

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: The real money lesson here is that things in stores are not free. You can also discuss that saving up to buy something is best…or else you might have to barter something like your own fur! In other words, stores do not operate under a barter system anymore, and money is the means to pay for something.

Store Money Activity: For the next birthday-buying occasion in your household, walk your child through the process of buying a gift for someone either with their own money (if you’ve figured out an allowance for kids, or if they’ve figured out how to make money for a kids). Talk about how much money to spend for the gift (in relation to how much they have), then brainstorm several ideas with them before heading to the store. Once you get to the store, walk them through the process. Let them choose from the shelf something close to one of the brainstormed ideas, as well as price compare if there are similar items. Ask them if the item is under the agreed-upon budget. If not, look around for another item. Have them put the item up on the counter at the cashier, and if you’re ready for it, have them hand over the money. Walk them through accepting the change, getting a receipt, and picking up the bag.

Money Book #2: Bunny Money, Rosemary Wells

Age Range: 3-5 years

Bunnies Ruby and Max want to buy the perfect birthday gift for their grandmother: a beautiful music box with skating ballerinas. They’ve saved up their own money to do so, and head to the store for this one purpose. However, things start happening, and temptations arise that cost them some of their money. Also, they didn’t research the cost of what they wanted ahead of time, so they didn’t have enough money to buy it to begin with.

They end up making a pretty bad spending decision − purchasing glow-in-the-dark vampire fangs that cost them their bus ride fare home. In the end, they spend their last $0.25 calling their grandmother to come and pick them up.

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: Talk about why researching what you want to buy before you head to the store is a good idea (so that you can make sure you have enough money would be the most immediate one, as well as finding alternatives that are less expensive for when you can’t find what you had originally wanted). Another great lesson is to prioritize your spending for needs first (a bus ride for home), then wants. Otherwise you might get stuck somewhere!

Store Money Activity: Have your child go through each item the bunnies spent their money on, and tell you whether it was a want or a need. Let them defend their answers before telling them your answer.

Money Book #3: Paddy’s Payday, Alexandra Day

Age Range: 3-8 years

Wondering how to teach kids about spending money? A great introduction to the most common way for money to get into a person’s hands is a good place to start. Paddy is an Irish Terrier who performs for a living. It’s his payday, and he’s got a long list of ways to spend his money.

The message that I don’t like in this book is to spend, spend, spend on your payday.

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: With payday money, you need to spend money on both needs and wants. To truly get this lesson, you’d have to add that in, though, because Paddy seems to spend, spend, spend (without any remark on how he’s spending his paycheck away!). You could turn this around by opening a discussion about which of the things Paddy spends on that are needs versus wants. Think: Boston Cream donuts, haircut, movie ticket, dinner at a restaurant, a bouquet of flowers (Paddy’s on track to be poor before his next payday!).

Store Money Activity: Take a few minutes to discuss with your little one where you and/or your spouse work. Discuss some of the ways you use the money you get on payday to keep the household going, and which stores you make purchases from for needs for the household.

Money Book #4: Apple Farmer Annie, Monica Wellington

Age Range: 3-7 years

What I like about this book is that your child will start to get an idea of the process involved in the other side of a store: the supplier. This is through the farming process (psst: I get exhausted just thinking back to my cow-milking, hay-making, silo-filling days on the dairy farm where I grew up).

Annie, an orchard farmer, takes your child through (though in a really cursory way) how a product gets to market. From picking the apples, sorting them, producing sweet apple cider, applesauce, various baked goods, to actually selling the most beautiful of all of them at the farmer’s market.

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: When you grow your own food, you can keep some for yourself to munch on (or bake really yummy things with), and then you can sell the excess and make some money. This is also a great opener for discussing with your child your own job and how it enables you to earn money. Which you then spend on needs + wants for the household.

Store Money Activity: There are Annie’s recipes in the back. So, you could extend the study by picking your own apples (or making that the first store transaction for your child), sorting them, then making a recipe together with your child.

Money Book #5: Pigs Will Be Pigs, Amy Axelrod

Age Range: 5-8 years

The Pigs will be Pigs series, including this book, has been designed around the National Council of teachers of Mathematics’ Thirteen Standards.

But that’s not the fun part about this book (nor did that sound fun, right?).

This pig family has eaten through all their groceries from the morning (yes, pigs will be pigs!), and they’re hungry for a snack. The problem? There’s only a dollar between the lot of them. So, they go about hunting for money in all kinds of peculiar places around their home.

Then, they’re presented with a menu with prices, and so your child gets a chance at the end to figure out what else they could have bought from that menu.

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: Have your child add up their own pot of money (if they’ve got one) and see what they could afford on the menu, as if they were actually going to buy it.

Store Money Activity: At your family’s next restaurant visit, have your child choose something based on price. Give them a budget to work with, then ask them how many different combinations they can come up with from the menu and still stay under that budget.

Money Book #6: Follow the Money, Loreen Leedy

Age Range: 4-8 years

This book will give your child a great overview of money circulation + different ways that money can be used (like in a vending machine or as a donation).

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: There are a few calculations your kiddo is asked to make, such as how much change a customer should receive. Make sure they understand the concept of change after they do these calculations.

Store Money Activity: You can practice change-making with your child by setting up different-costing transactions, having them pay for these pretend transactions, then seeing if they change you gave them is correct. A change jar is really helpful for this exercise!

Money Book #7: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Judith Viorst

Age Range: 4-8 years

In this book your child will see that Alexander used to be rich (and by rich, he means he used to have $1 his grandparents gave him) until he spent his money a bit foolishly. Honestly, what barely-out-of-a-car-seat-kid wouldn’t?

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: There are always “opportunities” to buy things with your money. But sometimes, they’re not opportunities at all. Like a one-eyed teddy bear.

Store Money Activity:  Have your child identify what they think are “wants” that Alexander spent his money on. Now, add up how much each of these wants cost Alexander. How much money would he still have if he had not spent on all his wants? What else could he have done with that money? Your child can go through an exercise of identifying 5 of their own wants, then pricing them out to see how much it would cost them at a store.

Money Book #8: Jenny Found a Penny, Trudy Harris

Age Range: 5+ years

Jenny has her eyes set on purchasing something special (though you don’t find out what it is until the end). She needs a whole dollar, so she sets out to find all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters she can. She also earns a dime from sweeping her grandfather’s porch and sidewalk − this is one determined gal! Unfortunately, she’s thrown for a loop at the cash register when she learns that not only does she have to save up for what she wants to buy, but also for the sales tax that is assessed on it.

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: Something you could talk about from this book is an alternative way to get that plastic piggy bank without her having to spend all her savings on it (such as making one from a two-liter soda bottle, or from a mason jar. Just look on Pinterest for ideas). Also, your child will be introduced to sales tax in this book, something that may well have confused them before (especially if they’ve paid attention to the price tag on an item + how it is always more at the register).

Store Money Activity: Discuss sales tax with your child, and the idea that it’s different in different states and areas. Look up the sales tax in your own area for reference. Are there any items that are not assessed a sales tax?

Money Book #9: Those Shoes, Maribeth Boelts

Age Range: 5-8 years

Whether we like to remember this happened to us as tweens/teens or not, there is a lot of peer pressure when it comes to having “cool” clothes. And often the “cool” clothes cost more than parents’ paychecks can support.

That’s why I like this book. A boy gets transfixed by the newest trend of shoes at his school. His jealousy is palpable. Unfortunately, his grandmother can only afford to get him shoes that he needs − winter boots.

Even worse, his own “everyday” shoes fall apart at school. A helpful guidance counselor gives him a pair to have, but they’re what’s considered “baby” shoes and he gets embarrassed.

What happens? He finds that the one boy who didn’t laugh at his “baby” shoes actually was worse off than him. When he actually finds the shoes of his dreams − albeit one size too small − from a thrift store, he ends up gifting them to this other boy.

Mama Talking Points to Extend the Money Lesson: Definitely discuss buying used versus buying new with your child. Also, point out how strong the grandmother was in unabashedly told him what they could and could not afford instead of racking up a charge she didn’t need on her credit card to satisfy a current trend.

Store Money Activity: Have your child talk to you about something that they want that they cannot currently afford. Then ask them to think about ways they could get what they wanted for less money so that they could afford it sooner. Give them some hints to help this exercise along, especially if they’re not used to finding discounts for items.

Cash register games for kids can only take your kid(dos) so far. From sales taxes, to getting change, and everything in between (like buying used), these books will prep your child for their first store transaction.

Done for You DIY Money Summer Camp for Kids (One Week Schedule Example)

Here's your kid's summer camp activities list for money camp (includes lesson plans). DIY money camp this summer with this done-for-you schedule over one week (bonus: an extra lesson plan in case you'd like to substitute!). |  https://www.moneyprodigy.com/done-diy-money-summer-camp-kids-one-week-schedule-example/

Looking for a summer camp activities list for a DIY money camp? Check out this 5-day schedule + lesson plans below.

Would you like to structure just one week of your kid’s summer vacation as a DIY money summer camp? I’ve got a week’s worth of money lessons outlined for you below, plus the supplies you’ll need so you can skim ahead of time and have everything ready.

Psst: Mama Bear Prepwork: I really suggest you go through this post about figuring out what the heck it is you want your child to learn about money a week or even a day before your camp starts. This will shape what lessons you choose now & moving forward. Clarity is golden!

Here’s your summer camp activities list to choose from + an Ideal schedule to maximize learning:

Monday – Stretch Your Child’s Delayed Gratification Muscle as a Precursor to Goal-Setting

Looking for activities when teaching goal setting for kids and students (especially with a growth mindset)? This Delayed Gratification money lesson using chocolate coins is the perfect precursor to goal setting, as it ensures your kid will not only be goal setting in the future, but will be able to stick it until they reach their goal. Great for elementary and middle school. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/use-chocolate-coin-delayed-gratification-lesson-precursor-goal-setting-kids/

Set up a Delayed Gratification Experiment in your own home.

Supplies You’ll Need: Chocolate Money Coins (you can pick these up at a Party City), plus either an item, experience, or more chocolate coins as the reward for waiting to eat the chocolate.

You can choose any duration of time you’d like to have your kids or teenagers wait for the bigger reward. Shorter duration works well with little kids (just a few days), and a longer duration works well with kids/teens who have flexed their delayed gratification muscles a bit. Since this is a one-week money camp, feel free to set the duration to be the end of this week.

Let’s see how your kiddo does!

Tuesday – Teach Your Kid to Save with this Money Growth Experiment

Get kids to listen to you about money, mom, by having them discover what you're trying to teach them on their own using this idea. You'll teach children to WANT to put money into a savings account after they go through this EYE-OPENING, hands-on money growth experiment. Kids save money? What a novel idea. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/money-growth-experiment-to-teach-children-to-save/

This experiment takes several months to reach the outcome. So why did I include this on your summer camp activities list? Because once you set it up, you don’t need to do any other work. So, take the time to actually set it up during this week, then watch it unfold naturally.

Supplies You’ll Need: A jar (any old one will do), a savings account that earns interest, and seed money to populate both the jar + the savings account.

Wednesday – Savings Accounts Activities to Keep Your Kid’s Account from Collecting Dust

Savings accounts for kids tend to collect dust (moreso than money!). But yours doesn't have to using these tips. Check out these 3 money activities you can do with your children, even if their account is particularly growing at the moment. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/savings-accounts-for-kids-collecting-dust-3-money-activities/

Choose one, two, or all three of these activities to go through during your DIY Money Summer Camp Week. Activities include naming (i.e. giving purpose to) their savings account, having your child shop around for the best interest rate, and starting a savings statement binder.

Supplies You’ll Need: A savings account for your child. If you don’t already have one (I walk you through how to set one up here), then move onto a different activity, or make the activity opening up a savings account together.

Thursday – Start Up the Money Dialogue with Your Family

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). |

Grab your free set of printable money conversation cards for kids and parents. Use these on commutes, road trips, or around the dinner table. They’re super fun, plus you might be really surprised with what you learn about your child’s understanding of money.

Supplies You’ll Need: Printed conversation cards, available in the post, plus a jar or other holding container to put them in.

Friday – Ignite Your Child’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Turn your child into a consultant by using the dialogues I’ve set up as an example to discuss with them about consumer needs plus fulfilling those needs to make a profit.

Then turn them loose as they figure out what some of your own household’s needs are, how much you are or are not willing to pay for them, and how to do the work to a customer’s (your’s) satisfaction.

Supplies You’ll Need: Nothing in particular. Just time.

Bonus or Substitute Lesson: Play Compound Interest Detective

Compound interest can literally change your child’s future. Moderate as they go through this lesson (there’s a 9:02 minute video to teach them what compound interest is in case you’re squeamish to do so) and open them up to the possibilities of money earning its own, actual, money. How cool!

Supplies You’ll Need: A savings account, and two consecutive statements representing two compounding periods from your child’s savings account.

Excited by some of these possibilities on this summer camp activities list? Now it’s time to choose one week to claim as Money Summer Camp, and schedule one of the money activities for each day. Remember that within some of the articles, there are multiple activities that you can choose from (or do them all and I’ll give you a digital high-five!).

Money Conversation Starters for Kids

Use these free money conversation starters for teens, kids, and families to open up money dialogue in your household (plus keep the kids interested at dinner time and road trips). Free printable, with fun ideas for how to get the money conversation rolling. | https://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. Some good ideas for saving money for kids, and definitely a money life skill to understand. | https://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 life skills using these ideas! |  https://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 using these tips. Check out these 3 money activities you can do with your children, even if their account is particularly growing at the moment. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/savings-accounts-for-kids-collecting-dust-3-money-activities/

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?