7 of the Best Business Simulation Games for Kids

Looking to start your budding kidpreneur off on the right foot? Here are 7 of the best business simulation games for kids (and 4 are completely free!).

Do you have a budding kidpreneur, or titan of industry on your hands?

Perhaps your child doesn’t seem to have any real-world business sense at all and you’d like to gently introduce them to these concepts.

Doesn't matter where your child falls on the biz-understanding spectrum; these 7 business simulation games will introduce them + hone their understanding of some key business concepts.

Business Games for Kids to Check Out

Did I mention these business simulation games for students are pretty fun to play, too?

1. Zapitalism

Age Range: Middle + High School
Game Objective: Become the richest business owner on the island, which is the first person to make it to 5,000,000 zables.
Where to Play: http://www.Zapitalism.com

Zapitalism is a six-player game (any slots not taken by people are taken by computer players, so your child can play on their own). Your kid gets to choose a company to run after reading through its description.

This is a turn-based game, meaning each player must take a turn before the time advances by one week. You’re given 50,000 zables to start, and with this money you need to turn a profit by purchasing items from a wholesaler to stock your shelves with. You are in charge of setting the price to turn a profit, but watch out! If you become too greedy, then customers will not buy from you.

You can do other cool/not-so-cool money things like:

  • Take a loan out with interest up to your credit limit for your business to purchase better products as well.
  • Take a peek at the store shelves of competitors to see what they have. Each week the companies are ranked according to their net cash.
  • Compete for a building permit to enlarge your store size, thereby enlarging your shelf space.
  • Be audited if you fail to pay taxes every 10 weeks that passes.
  • Pay your employees.

Levels are from Tutorial all the way up to Master. I highly recommend going through the tutorial round first because it really helps with understanding how to play.

Bonus: here are some free worksheets to go along with this game!

2. Gazillionaire

Age Range: Middle + High School
Game Objective: Start a small company and bring it all the way to trade tycoon status.
Where to Play: http://www.gazillionaire.com/index.php

This game is for up to 6 human players and 6 computer players (I really like how you can do a multi-player game with your kid's friends/students by just sending them an email invite to the game!).

Your child will be running their own trading company where they’ll need to buy low and sell high in order to prosper.

And, as with any business, there are start-up costs.

Right off the bat, your child will need to take a loan out (at 4% interest) to buy a ship — the ship they'll use to travel from planet to planet to buy cargo at low prices that they can then (hopefully) sell at a profit. Other things your child needs to decide on is whether or not to pay their insurance bill (which could come in handy when disaster strikes). This game also teaches about demand, and how you can't sell a product if no one wants to buy it.

FYI: kids can play 20 rounds of this for free, then you'll need to subscribe at $14.99/year.

Bonus: here are some free worksheets to go along with this game!

3. Lemonade Stand – The Game

Suggested Age Range: 6+ years
Players: 2-4 players
Game Objective:
The winner is the kid with the most money, after paying back the $20 + $5 startup costs.
Your child can simulate being in business selling lemonade.

Each player will incur capital costs to start-up, just like in real business. They'll have to take on a $20 bank loan, and pay out $2 to get started (talk about some cheap startup costs!).

The goal of the game is to finish with the most money, but this is after each player pays back their $20 loan + $5 in interest. What I like about this game is it teaches your child that there is much more to running a lemonade stand – and really, any business – than turning your lights on and hoping customers will appear.

There's a bit of luck in how your business goes because your cost of supplies and your selling price are dictated by cards you draw (Grocery Store Cards, and My Selling Price cards) throughout the game.

However, I do like how the amount of lemonade you can sell is mostly determined by your stand's location (such as “sports field” and “neighborhood”). Makes sense, right?

Take the lessons learned in this game, and then apply them to an actual lemonade stand business plan to hopefully make more money!

Psst: you'll want to also check out my review of the best money games for kids for more resources.

4. Marty Raygun’s Fistful of Dollars

Age Range: Middle + High School
Game Objective: Keep your monthly business cash flow in check, while making the firm as valuable as possible. Don’t go into bankruptcy, and make sure you always keep money in your business bank account.
Where to Play: http://sims.myej.org/wcgame/

Your child is taking over the firm Galactic Zappers. As the player, you need to make sure you keep enough cash on hand, and order enough supplies to keep things moving. You need to pay fixed period costs to keep the factory running (things like rent and electricity). You can accept or reject orders from suppliers after reviewing their details. They can offer you cash, or credit of 30-60-90 day terms to purchase their raw materials, which you need to produce your products and get them to your customers. You can also accept or reject customers based on their details. There’s some shady characters in there! You also will need to decide if you’d accept cash, or credit on 30-60-90 day terms from customers (hint: you’ll need to have a firm grasp on your monthly cash flow in order to pay expenses. Valuable business lesson there!).

There are some handy-dandy buttons allowing you to collectively see your accounts receivables and your accounts payable at any time you’d like. That’s helpful in managing your monthly cash flow.

And each are connected to the “Bank”, so you can clearly see what your balance does throughout the game.

Again, it’s very helpful to have your child go through the “How to Play” video before diving in. Lots of terms to learn for this one!

5. Monopoly

Good ol' Monopoly has some great business lessons to teach your child (not to mention, basic personal finance lessons – be sure to grab your free Monopoly game supplement below that I created to make the game much more educational).

Here are two major business lessons from Monopoly:

  1. The Need to Diversify Income: Your kid will quickly learn (well, within 1-2 game rounds, anyway – and I guess Monopoly game rounds aren’t all that quick!) that they need to purchase more than one property in order to earn enough cash to keep themselves afloat.
  2. Juggling Business Investments with Current Cash Flow Needs: Once your kid gets the chance to purchase houses for their properties, they have to learn a very valuable skill – how to juggle investing in your business enough to increase your profits, while not decimating your cash flow (so that you end up, well, belly-up).

Pssst: Click the image below to get your free printable that will turn your next round of Monopoly play into a life skills money lesson for your kids.

6. CA$HFLOW for Kids

Suggested Age Range: 6+ years
2-6 players

Are you a Rich Dad, Poor Dad fan? It's an eye-opening book from Robert Kiyosaki that breaks down what rich parents are teaching their kids that middle-class parents are not.

In a nutshell, it's all about putting as much of your money into assets as possible, while keeping your liabilities as low as you can.

Thankfully, Robert came out with a game for kids!

CASHFLOW for Kids teachers younger children the relationship between their balance sheet, and their income statement. It encourages side hustles, such as real estate businesses, that eventually will create more passive income than expenses.

Here's what you want: your assets + passive income to be greater than your liabilities + expenses.

In fact, that's how you win the game – the person whose passive income surpasses their expenses wins!

Each of the three types of cards – assets, liabilities, and sunshine cards – give your child ample practice making some great business decisions as well as personal finance decisions. And every player/child gets their own Financial Statement sheet (which includes their Balance Sheet and their Income Statement) to track throughout the game.

7. Cookie Tycoon

Suggested Age Range: Appropriate for all ages (this is what it says — I would say tween is a good age)
1 player

Your child gets to manage employees at their budding cookie bakery in this kid's business game. Not only that, but they can get actual feedback from customers, and make decisions based on that feedback (or not make decisions, and watch their bakery fail).

After each business day, the player gets a rundown of the store's statistics: how much the overhead costs (such as cookie ingredients and staff wages cost), how many cookies sold and at what price, and the overall profit/loss for the day.

As the days progress forward, the bakery chef and staff get more experience and your shop can earn more money. This means you'll get to decide on making upgrades to your store's appearance (that will, hopefully, earn you even more money!).

Which one are you most excited to have your kid try out?

I’m looking for kid’s business games to help my child learn to be an entrepreneur (that would be so cool if they ran their own business as a kid!). This woman reviewed 6 of the best business educational games for kids, which means they're lots of fun + offer tons of play to prep your teen, tween, and child for some real-world biz concepts. | homeschool games | games for teens | entrepreneur ideas for kids | interactive games | teen entrepreneur | #lemonadestand #gamesforkids #kids

Money Metropolis Game for Kids – Review

Let me share my Money Metropolis game review. Don’t forget – you can play this money games for kids free online, or get your own free copy without even paying Shipping & Handling!

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, one of the money games for 2nd grade, 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 the Money Metropolis Game Works

First off, this game is for ages 7-12 years. And the objective of the game?

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.

Here’s the basics of how this money games for kids 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.

Psst: Looking for more money games for kids? I've detailed 6 kids business games to teach them business and entrepreneurial skills.

What I Like about Money Metropolis Game Online

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).

Other Budgeting Games for Youth

I've got a few more budgeting games for kids that you might want to check out.

Practical Money Skills Game#1: Road Trip to Savings

This game, for kids aged 8-15, starts players with $1,000 cash. Players are forced to make decisions about how best to use that money as they trek across the U.S. in a four-week long road trip. For example, they'll need to spend wisely on things like gas and car insurance so that they don't have to end their trip abruptly!

Practical Money Skills Game #2: Financial Football

This game, for kids aged 11+, let's kids progress on the football field by quizzing them on personal finance questions. Kids choose a play − easy, medium, or hard − and then they're given a financial question. If answered correctly, then the football team they choose gains yardage.

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.

Fun money games for kids (even 2nd graders) that you can get for free? Here's my review of the Money Metropolis game, plus how to score yours for free (yes, without paying S&H). Definitely include this in your list of learning activities when teaching your children about money (psst: includes 4 money convos to have with your child to extend these lessons into real life!) Math money games. #gamesforkids #teach #mathgames

Money Books for Kids

Money books for kids (by age) that will jump-start their money learning. Use the bonus activities I'm giving you alongside these children's stories about money.

Money books for kids (by age) that will jump start their financial literacy. BONUS money lessons + activities for each of the books!

Earlier this year I went through a research project of sorts. I wanted to read tons of money books for kids to see what materials are out there.

But I wanted to take it a step further. See, you’re a busy parent. And you don’t necessarily have time to read all of the books that your child is going to read.

So, for each of the 29 money books for kids that made the cut below, I’ve added in:

  • the age range
  • what money lesson(s) your child will learn from reading this book
  • what life lesson(s) they’ll learn

I’ve even included a bunch of *bonus money activity ideas* to use after reading specific books!

Let's get started with how to teach kids money management through books.

Children's Stories about Money for Kids Under 5

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

Ages: 2-3 years old

Stores are a great place to help with how to teach kids about money. And 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!

The Money Lesson(s): Sheep can’t count. Haha − just kidding. The real money lesson here is that things in stores are not free. Also, saving up to buy something is best…or else you might have to barter something like your own fur!

Life Lesson(s): It’s nice to both have fun while shopping, as well as to put some thought and energy into someone’s birthday.

Bonus Money Activity: For the next birthday-buying occasion in your household, walk your child through the process of buying a gift for someone. It doesn’t have to be from their money, or it could be − the point to this exercise is for them to be part of the money transaction. Set a budget for what they can spend on the gift, 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

Ages: 3-5

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.

The Money Lesson(s): 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. There are almost always less expensive alternative options for when you can’t afford what you originally wanted. You need to prioritize your spending for needs first (bus far home), then wants. Otherwise you might get stuck somewhere!

Life Lesson(s): Your family will be there for you, just as you should be there for your family. And sometimes you’ll make mistakes! It happens. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you do.

Bonus 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: The Ant and the Grasshopper, Amy Lowry Poole

Ages:  4+ years

This is probably one of the oldest examples of parents figuring out how to teach kids about money through storytelling. This particular version of the classic Aesop’s fable offers a twist, where the ants consistently, and without hesitation, prepare for the winter months while the grasshopper focuses on games + entertainment in the Chinese Emperor’s Summer Palace.

The Money Lesson(s): Consistent, and sometimes hard, work pays off. Preparation for tough times to come − financially or otherwise − is a good idea.

Life Lesson(s): The ants may be super prepared for winter while the grasshopper is out in the cold, but there is something to be said for enjoying life more. The lesson here is somewhere along the lines of “work hard, but don’t forget to play hard. Play hard, but don’t forget to leave time for work.”

Bonus Money Activity: Relate this lesson to something in your own household that you do throughout the year in financial preparation. For example, when my sister worked for a school bus company she did not receive a paycheck during the summer months. So throughout the year she would need to save extra each month to make up for having no paycheck for 2.5 months.

Money Book #4: Paddy’s Payday, Alexandra Day

Ages: 3-8 years

Wondering how to teach kids about 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.

However, 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!).

The Money Lesson(s): Payday means you have money to spend 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!).

Life Lesson(s): It’s important to play as well as work, not just one without the other. Paddy works for a living, so it’s nice to see him take some time off and enjoy himself.

Bonus 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.

Money Book #5: Apple Farmer Annie, Monica Wellington

Ages: 3-7 years

I get exhausted just thinking back to my cow-milking, hay-making, silo-filling days.

What I like about this book is that your child will start to get an idea of the process involved in farming and turning it into an end product − dipping their toes in entrepreneurship. Annie, an orchard farmer, takes your child through (though in a really cursory way) picking apples, sorting them, producing sweet apple cider, applesauce, various baked goods, and then selling the most beautiful of all of them at the farmer’s market.

The Money Lesson(s): 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.

Life Lesson(s): All throughout the book you can feel Annie’ s enthusiasm for what she does. It’s nice to show kids that you can love what you do in life.

Bonus Money Activity: there are Annie’s recipes in the back. So you could extend the study by picking your own apples, sorting them, then making a recipe together with your child. To add money flair to it, calculate the cost to create the recipe, and how much you could earn if you sold it for X amount of dollars.

Money Book #6: Pigs Will Be Pigs, Amy Axelrod

Ages: 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. What I like is they don’t give the dollar denominations, but just the kinds of coins found, so that your child can do the math and add things up for themselves.

They are 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. A very interactive book (probably not best for bedtime, as you’ll want them to break out a pencil and piece of paper to work on a few things).

The Money Lesson(s): Use the resources you’ve got at your hands (such as finding change in your own home versus going to the bank to get money out). Also, your child will get a bit more comfy with adding up different coins and dollar denominations, then trying to figure out what they can buy from it.

Life Lesson(s): Working together as a family means you’ll get to the goal that you want quicker. Plus it’s kinda fun!

Bonus 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 #7: Follow the Money, Loreen Leedy

Ages 4-8

George is a newly minted quarter that gets used in a variety of ways. 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).

The Money Lesson(s): There are a few calculations your kiddo is asked to make, such as how much change a customer should receive. This is also a great lesson in different ways money is used, and how far it can “travel”. It will answer the question of where money comes from, and what happens to it once it leaves their hands.

Bonus Money Activity: Have your child follow up reading this by going on a Virtual Money Field Trip to The U.S. Mint. This will show them where George the quarter came from!

Money Book #8: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Judith Viorst

Ages: 4-8 years

You remember Alexander, the kid who had that terrible, horrible, no-good day? Well, the poor guy can’t catch a break. Reading about his life is like watching the many trials and tribulations of Greg Focker in the movie Meet the Parents all over again (hmmm…I think I just figured out Alexander’s adult avatar?).

Can’t this poor kid have a GOOD day?

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?

The Money Lesson(s): There are always “opportunities” to buy things with your money. But sometimes, they’re not opportunities at all. Like a one-eyed teddy bear.

Life Lesson(s): Hmmm…maybe don’t make friends with this Alexander kid? Haha:). For real though, spending choices are your own, and no one else’s. So make them wisely! (Wait…that’s another money lesson. Oh well).

Bonus Money Activity:  Have your child identify what they think are “wants” that he spends 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?

Money Books for Kids 5 to 10 Years Old

Money Book #1: Those Shoes, Maribeth Boelts

Ages: 5-8 years

How to teach kids about money without including this timeless issue: peer pressure. 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.

The Money Lesson(s): First off, I love how this boy figures out an alternative way of finding the shoes he wants for a price his grandmother can afford − the thrift store. I also love how the grandmother 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.

Life Lesson(s): Helping out someone else is hugely rewarding, just like when someone helps you out.

Bonus 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.

Money Book #2: Jenny Found a Penny, Trudy Harris

Ages: 5+ years

Jenny has her eyes set on 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.

The Money Lesson(s): Something you could talk about from this book is an alternative way to get that plastic piggy bank without having spent 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).

Life Lesson(s): Let others know what your goals are, and they just might help you with them.

Bonus 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 #3: How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty, Nathan Zimelman

Ages: 5-8 years

I love how this book organizes such a huge task − raising a large sum of money − with a child Treasurer who makes reports. The reports break down their interesting and sometimes funny methods to raise money by the expenses and then overall profits. But it’s done in a very story-telling kind of way, not like a profit-n-loss meeting. This book is hilarious!

The Money Lesson(s): You can shoot for high money goals! Also, remember that when you sell something, not all of the money you bring in is actually profit. There are expenses you incurred that you need to account for to come to your profit number.

Life Lesson(s): Have a big idea − like checking out the Statue of Liberty? All of your goals are doable. You just need to brainstorm and take action on your ideas for how to get there.

Bonus Money Activity: What are some school fundraisers you’ve participated in the past? List them out. Now, talk about which ones were successful, and which ones were not. Why do you think some were successful and some weren’t?

Money Book #4: Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock, Sheila Bair

Ages: 6-9 years

This book describes two twins who live very differently, and who treat their money very differently. This becomes hugely apparent when their grandfather gives them a very intriguing proposition: He’ll pay them each $1 per week to mow his lawn and wash his car. Then he’ll match whatever they have in savings. One twin cannot keep his impulse purchases at bay − broccoli-flavored gum, anyone? − and the other ends up with a sweet $512 after 10 weeks.

The Money Lesson(s): Aside from ‘you need to have a grandfather who will match your savings from mowing his lawn and washing his car, dollar for dollar’ (ha!)? Saving money is wise for two reasons. Number one, you can afford more quality-of-life changing items. And number two, because your savings grows through interest (and through matches you can score).

Life Lesson(s): Don’t judge a person by their outside achievements. The beginning of this book is interesting because it sets up the twins in that one is a winner, and the other one is a loser. But it turns out the “loser” twin knew his stuff when it came to saving money.

Money Book #5: Lulu Walks the Dogs, Judith Viorst

Age Range: 6-10 years

Lulu is quite the sassy little girl. She decides she needs to make some cash for something REALLY special, and sets her eyes on figuring out anything that will roll the dough in. Dog-walking seems to be the best suited (err, most easily lucrative) occupation. Except that she’s pretty bad at dog-walking. There’s this neighborhood kid who seems to be good at everything + super polite and helpful…but she refuses his help and good advice time and time again.

I also like that this is a short chapter book, so you can read it over several nights to your little one (or they can read it themselves).

The Money Lesson(s): Money can be made from a variety of sources if you’ve got some determination.

Life Lesson(s): Don’t be too prideful to ask for help, especially from people who could be the key in you getting what you are tirelessly trying for. A lesson that’s good for both kids and adults to learn!

Bonus Money Activity: Share several ways (or just one) of how you earned cash as a kid. How much did you make? Were you saving up for something special?

Money Book #6: Rickshaw Girl, Mitali Perkins

Ages: 7-10 years

How to teach kids about money + beyond can start by introducing them to the economics and realities of different cultures. Ten-year-old Naima is exceptionally good at painting (specifically designs called Alpanas). She lives in a Bangladeshi village with her mother, father, and younger sister. Unfortunately, even though they make little money, she can’t use her talents to earn money for the family because she is a girl. The father makes a living by pulling a rickshaw all day. In order to get into the profession, he had to first purchase the rickshaw. But since they have very little, he’s making payments on it.

One day Naima gets the rickshaw into an accident, threatening their entire livelihood.

Bonus Money Activity: On one rickshaw drive Naima’s, father makes is 3 taka. How much is that in US dollars? What is the US minimum wage, and how does that compare with what Naima’s father made?

Money Book #7: The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies

Age Range: 7-10 years

I absolutely adored this book.

Jessie and her brother, Evan, love each other. Deep down. And usually they function well as a brother/sister unit. But when Evan finds out that his very intelligent sister is going to be skipping ahead to his own grade, his bad emotions come out of nowhere.

They begin selling lemonade together, and end up starting an all-out lemonade war due to lots of miscommunication that escalate things (gee, that never happens in real life!). And who wins? The person who makes a profit of $100 by the end of the week.

The Money Lesson(s): One of the great money lessons in this book is how it’s geared towards making big business concepts understandable in terms of something your tween gets — a lemonade stand. So, they learn about things like Underselling, Value-Added, Profit Margin, and Franchises. An overall highly valuable money lesson is how to take an idea you have to make money, and see it through. These two really know how to implement, and that’s where the rubber meets the road.

Life Lesson(s): I think one of the best life lessons in this book that isn’t necessarily pointed out is that each person, no matter what their skills or capabilities, can bring valuable assets to the table. Jessie is a whiz when it comes to math, calculations, and ideas for how to increase profits. Evan is more of a people person, which is hugely important in a business.

Bonus Money Activity: If you were going to open a lemonade stand, who would you appoint to the different positions? For example, who in your family would be good at advertising for the business? Who would be good at counting the money? Where would you locate your lemonade stand? Start to think about these questions.

Money Book #8: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin

Age Range: 8-12 years

In this jade-gem of a book, Minli and her family live very meagerly (poor according to American standards), but they have what they need. Though yes, just barely. The mother is always discontented with their circumstances. Her daughter is quite content, listening to her father’s stories are night, but she knows that her mother is not and she knows they have to work to the bone for the little they have.

So Minli decides to take some of the information from these stories and seek these people out so that she can change her family’s fortunes.

The Money Lesson(s):  This is a beautifully written tale about greed, humbleness, dragons (yes, there are dragons!), and learning to be thankful with what you have.

Life Lesson(s): Being thankful with what you have, and feeling like you have “enough” is the secret to happiness. There’s also a strong lesson here about helping others along their journey, and accepting help from others along the way.

Bonus Money Activity: Ask your child these follow-up questions to what they’re reading:

Minli and her family have very little money and very few possessions. Yet they have everything that they need. List out at least 4 needs that people must have in order to survive (a home, rice to eat, fields to plant a crop in and harvest, water, clothes to wear, each other’s company).

Now from the list of needs you made, write down what Minli and her family have in order to meet those needs. For example, if you list “water”, you could write that she and her family go to the well to get the water that they need.

The only money Minli’s family has are the two copper coins given to Minli when she was a baby. And she spends one of these copper coins on a goldfish from some man who was selling them. Her mother is furious about this. Why do you think that is? What else could Minli have spent this precious money on?

Money Book #9: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money (American Girl), Nancy Holyoke

Age Range: 9-12 years

If you’re looking for money education geared towards young girls that has a cosmo-girl feel to it, this is your book. I particularly love the guidance on how to not only start up a business, but how to figure out your actual profits and not just your overall intake (something would-be biz owners at any age need to hear). I also dig the 101 money-making ideas in the back.

Overall, the book was a little too shopping-happy for my liking for kids (example: for a typical money moments day they include things like noticing another teen has a purse that costs more than someone’s car and determining that she’s stuck-up, meeting up with teen friends at the mall after school, etc.). To be fair though, there is a chapter on Shopping that goes into the value of needs versus wants, six ways not to buy, etc.

The Money Lesson(s): This is an entire guide about money, so there are many. The list includes being a smart shopper, starting up a business, running a business, and saving money.

Life Lesson(s): Once again, it’s not a book really set up for one particular lesson or even two. However, one that caught my eye was how to negotiate with your parents to raise your allowance.

Money Book #10: Lawn Boy, Gary Paulsen

Age Range: 8-12

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: financial limits and boundaries breed creativity. In this case, being a broke kid bred a whole business!

Lawn Boy is a pretty great book about a kid who started an entire lawn-mowing business − complete with workers − all because his parents didn’t have enough money to help him buy a new bike inner tube.

While this book is bent towards economics, it’s also great for making entrepreneurship seem a bit more accessible. It gives your kiddo a look into how another kid their age filled a demand for a service, and in the meantime, earned lots of money.

The Money Lesson(s): Get this book for your kiddo for the business and entrepreneur lessons. However, warn your kid about the use of penny stocks and investing their money with random people. Yes, Lawn Boy makes a small fortune when his stockbroker neighbor-turned business manager invests his money into penny stocks. But that’s not likely to happen.

Life Lesson(s): Keep your eyes open for opportunities. And sometimes? It comes in the form of work. A lot of work.

Bonus Money Activity: Think about yourself trying to start a lawn mowing business. What would you need to purchase in order to get started? How would you come up with that money to begin the business?

Money Book #11: Lunch Money, Andrew Clements

Age Range: 8-12

Greg Kenton has a mind and an eye for earning cash. You could say he’s a little money-crazy. When he figures out that all of his friends and schoolmates carry around extra quarters with them − for things like ice-cream sandwiches, cupcakes, neon pens, pencils, and other things to buy at school − he knows he needs to cash in on it in order to help him make his fortune.

The book follows his entrepreneurial journey as he navigates selling first toys, then self-made, mini-comic books to his students. Along the way he figures out how to mass-produce, he comes up against a fierce competitor, and tough school regulations against selling things where learning should be the ultimate goal.

The Money Lesson(s): I like how this book takes a subject that can be very difficult to wrap your head around − entrepreneurship and starting up a small biz − and makes it accessible to kids and adults alike. Most things are addressed in a completely non-intimidating way, such as trademark issues, creation, marketing, figuring out a solid audience to market to, earning money, gross earnings versus profits Greg gets to pocket, etc. However, the book does not get into a bit more complex subjects like taxes on earnings.

Life Lesson(s): There’s an underlying message here of learning how to read things for yourself, analyze them, then stick up for what you believe in. This happens when Greg and his competitor find out that even though they’re told they cannot sell products to kids in school, they point out the huge amount of advertisements and products being sold to the kids everyday (such as Coke in the vending machines, and books through the scholastic school program). Greg, his competitor, and a teacher end up going over the regulations and then presenting their side at the school board meeting.

Bonus Money Activity: Greg’s idea to create miniature comic books and sell them to kids is pretty unique. Ask your child if they wanted to make some extra money, what are three ways they could start doing so?

Money Book #12: Better than a Lemonade Stand!, Daryl Bernstein

Age Range: 9-13 years

I love the fact that this book was written by a 15-year old. How cool for your kid to see that!

There are 55 different business ideas for kids that go well beyond just the lemonade stand. I also love the fact that sprinkled throughout the book are real life examples of kids who took this guy’s advice (he originally wrote the book in 1992) and started their own businesses.

There’s a lot of positivity in this book, and I’ll have to warn you that you may not agree with all the advice spouted off by the then-15 year old in the beginning of the book. Examples include, “When you earn your own money, it’s yours to spend as you wish…[i]f you prefer to buy loads of candy, go ahead!” And you might want to reinforce the idea of charity against his statement of, “When I see a need, I charge a fee to fill it.”

Then again, getting to read a book from a child who is so confident with money, business building, gleaning life lessons from mistakes, and asking for the sale is an awesome role model for your own child.

The Money Lesson(s): Your child will definitely understand what start-up costs are after reading this book, as each of the 55 ideas comes with a list of what they’ll need to get the biz up and going. The crucial role of advertising, along with tons of ideas for how to, is discussed. Each idea also comes with an example of how much to charge, as well as ways to cut down on costs and increase your profits as you move along. Lots of other nuggets like “the less you spend on supplies, the more you make!”, collecting some money upfront so that you have the funds to purchase supplies, and small details to get repeat customers (like bringing along a little bell toy to leave in a bird’s cage after cleaning it so that every time the customer hears the bell they’ll think of you in a sweet way and want you to come again).

Life Lesson(s): Daryl really reinforces the idea that when you make a mistake or fail you can use the lessons as fodder for your next business. I love this “keep going” attitude.

Money Books for Kids Aged 10-13 years

Money Book #1: The Toothpaste Millionaire, Jean Merrill

Ages: 10-12

Originally published in 1972, this book takes place in an era when many authors, including this one, talked about things like race/age/sex discrimination. So just a heads up!

What I liked about this book for your Money Rookie is that it takes the idea of earning money through manufacturing and makes it a very tangible subject. In fact, this line from the book pretty much sums up why I’m recommending it: “As I mentioned before, math isn’t my favorite subject. But I think everybody should take a course in toothpaste.”

A child, appalled by how expensive toothpaste costs at the store, knows he can make his own for a very, very small fraction of the cost. So he does. And with the help of his friends and his math teacher, works his way up to opening several toothpaste manufacturing facilities. Apparently the US is hungry for $0.15 tubes of toothpaste!

The Money Lesson(s): One lesson is an overall introduction into the manufacturing business (as in how a product is made, some of the costs of production that go into the overall price, price wars with other brands, etc.). So it’s taking lessons your child may have learned running a lemonade stand as a pre-tween and using some real-world examples to teach them the lessons now.

Life Lesson(s): The main character, Rufus, gets a lot of help and ideas from friends, families, and his teacher. I think this is an extremely important lesson, as we’ll all get where we’re going a lot faster (and help others get where they’re going a lot faster) when we let others help us.

Money Book #2: Payday, Kathryn Beaton

Ages: 10-13

If you’re looking for some foundational money lessons for your Money Apprentice, then this is your book. However, this book reads more like a textbook (albeit a very juicy one if you’re into learning about money) than a regular read.

The author takes your child through money concepts such as higher-paying jobs usually mean you need more education, common paycheck deductions and why they happen, health insurance co-pays, and some of the more logistical, but basic-for-an-adult-in-the-real-world, stuff that will untangle children’s natural confusion about how money works.

A note for parents: this book is heavy on the concept of getting an allowance that is tied with your age/the complexity of chores you can complete. It also says that the average allowance given to kids is between $5-$10/week. So make sure you’re cool with this before unknowingly giving some ammo to your kids to potentially raise their allowance (yes, the book also suggests negotiating with parents for extra allowance; however, they pair this with taking on more work around the house to justify the request)!

The Money Lesson(s): This book reads kind of like an 80s educational reference book, so the money lessons are vast. Aside from the obvious ones they tackle (budgeting, paycheck, earning money, shopping wisely), they also brush on negotiating for higher pay (or higher allowance, in this case), the necessity of health insurance, why older kids in the family might receive more allowance than the younger ones, money is negotiable, becoming an NFL player is not necessarily a life plan, etc.

Money Book #3: Seventeen Against the Dealer, Cynthia Voigt

Ages: 12+

Your child may have thought about wanting to start a business, or shown some interest in running a lemonade stand. For me and my friend, it was starting a bean bag business (not much demand in them…nor supply, for that matter).

Great! Have them read this book. It’s actually Book #7 in a series; however, I didn’t read the other ones before it and thought the story worked well on its own. Dicey Tillerman sets her eyes on opening a boatyard business where she’ll craft boats for a living.

The problem? While she has a little bit of money to start, she doesn’t have a lot of business sense and she doesn’t even have a ton of boat-making experience. Of course business sense can be picked up as you go (*cough* not that I would know ANYTHING about that).

Your child can read along her journey as she makes decisions of which she suffers from consequences later, as well as subtracts out expenses from her checkbook.

The Money Lesson(s): In business, you need to have contracts with the people you are serving to protect both you and them. Having enough money in the bank to pay six months’ rent + utilities is woefully inadequate when starting your own business and being unsure of where the money is going to come from. Having more than one income source “stream” is very helpful for when your other income streams aren’t doing so hot (but the bills keep coming, as they so often do). It’s important to look into business insurance so that if/when you are robbed, your ability to make money (in her case, her specialty tools needed) is not completely taken away. What you earn from business is not all the money you get to take home thanks to operating costs + fees.

Life Lesson(s): There are lots of life lessons in this book. My favorites include the need to have Plans B-D at least, not trusting complete strangers with your money, and everyone pitching in to help each other out.

Well, there you have it – a huge list of good to great money books to stock your child’s reading list. Plus a ton of ideas for bonus money activities to go along with many of the books!

Children's Books on Financial Literacy – How to Save Money

If you’re like me, then you like to prime your kids for the next phases in their lives through books. And books are an excellent way of introducing new concepts to them, peaking their interest, or diving much deeper into a topic you want them to explore.

While my little 21-month old is more into the realm of potty-training + identifying colors in books, yours is likely ready to tackle some of the money issues − and specifically, how to teach children to save money − you’d like to pass onto them.

So today, we’re going to do just that by offering a curated list of books to teach children to save (yes, kids save money! Atleast they can…).

Saving Money Book #1: The Ant and the Grasshopper, Amy Lowry Poole

Ages:  4+ years

This is a twist on the classic Aesop’s fable, where the ants consistently, and without hesitation, prepare for the winter months while the grasshopper focuses on games + entertainment in the Chinese Emperor’s Summer Palace.

The Money Lesson(s): Consistent, and sometimes hard, work pays off. Preparation for tough times to come − financially or otherwise − is a good idea. That's why we want to teach children to save money!

Life Lesson(s): The ants may be super prepared for winter while the grasshopper is out in the cold, but there is something to be said for enjoying life more. The lesson here is somewhere along the lines of “work hard, but don’t forget to play hard. Play hard, but don’t forget to leave time for work.”

Bonus Money Talk Starter: Relate this lesson to something in your own household that you do throughout the year in financial preparation. For example, when my sister worked for a school bus company she did not receive a paycheck during the summer months. So, throughout the year she would need to save extra each month to make up for having no paycheck for 2.5 months. What season/item/bill do you financially prepare for ahead of time? Property taxes? Christmas? Summer Camp fees?

Saving Money Book #2: How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty, Nathan Zimelman

Ages: 5-8 years

I love how this book organizes such a huge task − raising a large sum of money − with a child Treasurer who makes reports. The reports break down their interesting and sometimes funny methods to raise money by the expenses and then overall profits. But it’s done in a very story-telling kind of way, not like a profit-n-loss meeting. This book is hilarious!

The Money Lesson(s): You can shoot for high money goals! Also, remember that when you sell something, not all of the money you bring in is actually profit. There are expenses you incurred that you need to account for to come to your profit number.

Life Lesson(s): Have a big idea − like checking out the Statue of Liberty? All of your goals are doable. You just need to brainstorm and take action on your ideas for how to get there.

Bonus Money Talk Starter: What are some school fundraisers you’ve participated in the past? List them out. Now, talk about which ones were successful, and which ones were not. Why do you think some were successful and some weren’t? Which ones did your child enjoy the most?

Saving Money Book #3: Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock, Sheila Bair

Ages: 6-9 years

This book describes two twins who live very differently, and who treat their money very differently. This becomes hugely apparent when their grandfather gives them a very intriguing proposition: He’ll pay them each $1 per week to mow his lawn and wash his car. Then he’ll match whatever they have in savings. One twin cannot keep his impulse purchases at bay − broccoli-flavored gum, anyone? − and the other ends up with a sweet $512 after 10 weeks.

The Money Lesson(s): Aside from ‘you need to have a grandfather who will match your savings from mowing his lawn and washing his car, dollar for dollar’ (ha!)? Saving money is wise for two reasons. Number one, you can afford more quality-of-life changing items. And number two, because your savings grows through interest (and through matches you can score).

Life Lesson(s): Don’t judge a person by their outside achievements. The beginning of this book is interesting because it sets up the twins in that one is a winner, and the other one is a loser. But it turns out the “loser” twin knew his stuff when it came to saving money.

Bonus Money Talk Starter: Ask your kiddo to describe a time that they purchased something and felt really bad about it afterwards. Tell them it's called “buyer's remorse”, and that sometimes it happens to adults as well. Share your own story of buyer's remorse with them.

Saving Money Book #4: Less than Zero, Stuart J. Murphy

Ages: 6-10 years

In a little penguin’s world, the currency is clams and the thing to have? An ice scooter (costs 9 clams). Of course, there are other temptations along the way – the Ice Circus, Sardine Fishy Treats, and Fishy Fries.

This book clearly demonstrates both a savings goal, as well as what it means to go down to “less than zero” (owing others money).

The Money Lesson(s): You can go into debt with people, and that’s what happens when you take out a loan. Also, temptations will always show up when you have a savings goal; it’s your decision what to choose to spend your money on.

Life Lesson(s): Be kind and honest – when someone loses their money and you find it, be sure to attempt to give it back to them. It might be their last “clam”!

Bonus Money Talk Starter: Ask your kiddo about trendy things that lots of kids are buying right now. Then ask them about a trend in the past that was “all the rage”, but died out (for example, you don't still have your slap bracelet, do you Mama Bear? Does your kiddo think it's smart to spend money on items that become uncool so quickly?

Saving Money Book #5: Start Saving, Henry!, Nancy L. Carlson

Ages: 5-8 years

After weeks and months of mindless spending, Henry the mouse sets his eyes on a Super Robot Dude. The cost? A whole $30. His allowance per week is just $5. That’s when the idea that he can save up his allowance from week to week dawns on him.

Fun aside: does anyone else here remember those giant jawbreakers from our childhood?

The Money Lesson(s): Life keeps happening, despite your savings goal. So, you need to keep coming back to it no matter how far away it might seem. You’ll get there, one day!

The Life Lesson(s): I like how Henry makes the realization at the end that even though he got what he wanted, he’s just going to start saving more money from now on because you never know when you’ll need the cash.

Bonus Money Talk Starter: Talk to your child about a savings goal that they have that would cost more than their weekly/bi-weekly/monthly allowance. Ask your child if they would like to set aside a certain amount of money each allowance to put towards it. See how they're feeling.

Saving Money Book #6: Anna & Solomon, Elaine Snyder

Ages: 4-8 years

This is a heart-warming book about a Jewish couple who decides it’s in their best interest to leave Russia due to persecution.

What I like about their savings goal – to send the husband to America and establish a business, then send money back for her ticket – is wrapped around both earning money from their talents, as well as a goal with real life consequences.

This isn’t just about saving up for a new ice scooter!

What’s endearing is that Anna actually sends her younger brother, her older brother, and her mother before she uses the money her husband sends for her own ticket. While her husband is disappointed, each time he goes back to work and earns/saves up for another ticket.

Eventually, all are reunited.

Pssst: this is a true story!

The Money Lesson(s): Sometimes you save up for really fun and non-necessary items, like a video game, or a new robot. And other times? You save up for very important, life-altering things, like a ticket so that your family can be reunited with you. Also, once you’ve successfully saved up for one goal, you can just start right in on the next one. And the next one.

The Life Lesson(s): Life takes patience. Getting what you want can take a lot of patience. Keep at it – short-term sacrifices can oftentimes lead to long-term happiness and stability.

Bonus Money Talk Starter: Share a time that you saved money as a family for something very important — more so than a want, something that was a need.

Saving Money Book #7: Just Saving My Money, Mercer Mayer

Ages: 4-8 years

Little Critter wants a new skateboard because his old one has bit the dust. So his father asks him to save up for it. The little guy comes up with different chores he can do around the house for money – with varying degrees of success – and finally his mason jar is so full that he needs to open a savings account!

I like how this book takes your child through the process of first saving money in a jar, and then transitioning to a savings account at a bank.

The Money Lesson(s): You can earn money to put towards a savings goal. Also, you can choose to either save your money in a jar, or at a bank.

The Life Lesson(s): It’s okay to change your mind! Just like Little Critter did at the end.

Bonus Money Talk Starter: Talk to your kiddo about the positives and negatives of saving money in a mason jar/piggy bank versus saving money in a savings account.

Saving Money Book #8: Mamá’s Birthday Surprise, Elizabeth Spurr

Ages: 8-9 years

I love the details of Mexican culture in this book, as well as the concrete savings goal this family has and sees through.

Three children and their hard-working mother – working, going to college – live in Glendale, CA. After a large earthquake, her mother was taken in by her rich Uncle in Guadalajara, and often recounts his many luxuries and the goodness of life there. She married an American, who took them to California. Unfortunately, he died in a car crash.

The mother wanted to return on a visit to Mexico and bring her family to meet her Uncle. To save up for the trip, they have a piggy bank on top of the fridge that they affectionately named Jamón.

Follow along as several life events, such as job loss, coincide with the kids saving up all their earnings on the side so that they can surprise their mother with a birthday gift – enough money to pay for all four plane tickets to Guadalajara.

I love all the details on Mexican culture!

The Money Lesson(s): Kids can earn + save up enough money to actually make a difference to a real-life situation. That's empowering! This book also briefly mentions life insurance from the death of her husband. Also, because of what they found out happened to the Uncle, it's a good thing for them to understand that money can come and go.

The Life Lesson(s): Have faith in your parents. Sometimes they tell stories that aren't true with your benefit in mind. And other times? They're telling the truth, even if it might not seem like it at first.

Bonus Money Talk Starter: Since your  kiddo will learn that the once-rich Uncle loses everything, now's the perfect time to discuss with them the need for emergency funds. Save money during the good times, so that you have it in the bad times.

Saving Money Book # 9: Not Your Parents’ Money Book, Jean Chatzky

Age: 10+ years

I really like how the various subjects of this book – making, saving, and spending your own money – are led by actual kids’ questions that Chatzky surveyed from around the U.S.

Let’s be honest: kids are real! They want to know ways to earn money that don’t have to do with babysitting, or they confess that their parents have a rule that if they receive $10 in one day they’re not allowed to spend it all that day (good rule).

Chatzky advises your child to save 10% of all of their income for life and shows them the breakdown of how this would land them over a million dollars (if they invest it as well) by retirement. Not so bad. I wish I had started when I was a teen!

She dives into the difference between simple and compound interest, why you want to use a bank instead of your mattress to stash your savings, and lots more.

A section I particularly like in the book? Is when she breaks down incomes from common job types. Not necessarily related to savings, but eye-opening for your child, anyhow (and, let’s face it, you need money to save money!).

Another favorite? The chapter on “Why does money make people so crazy?”

Bonus Money Talk Starter: This book is different from the others as it reads more like a kids' money textbook (but a fun one). So you could ask your kiddo what questions they have after reading through everything.

Children's Books about Coins

If you want children's books specifically about coins, I would recommend the following from above: 

What are your favorite kids' stories that teach children to save money? Please leave them in the comments below!

Money books for kids to help me start my kid learning about money (definitely important life skills for kids)! I love how she breaks it down by age and money topic, so like books for children, books for kids preschool, chapter books for kids, books for preteens, etc. These are awesome stem books, and she includes children’s educational activities that go along with each book. Math books for kids | financial literacy activities #lifeskills #booksforkids #money

Teaching Money Skills: Let Your Child Leave a Tip for a Waitress

Teaching money skills starts at home. Let me show you a simple lesson – how to leave a tip for a waitress – that you can add to your child’s money life skills.

I just love teachable money teaching moments where teaching money skills to your child just happens naturally.

You know, the moments that pop up in everyday life that are just too ripe for the taking to impart a lesson to your child?

Though they’re normally spontaneous – like when the checkout person forgets to scan something on the bottom of your cart and you show your child what it means to be honest, or when a too-good-to-be-true offer comes on the tv and you sit down with your child + a calculator to show them that “just pay extra shipping & handling” means you’re basically paying for the second product (a product you didn’t want two of, anyway).

But, you can also plan a few of them ahead of time by thinking through some typical things your family does in a week or month, such as dining at a restaurant, and the moments that will likely pop up.

Use Your Next Restaurant Trip for Teaching Money Skills

I just love it when real life meets theory. When you can do the two together – both teach your child in advance + actually have them do it in real life – then you’ve got a winner of a lesson.

I want you to seize your next restaurant trip with your family (dine-in) for a teachable money moment: how and why to tip a waitress.

In fact, you can set it up so that your child either tips the waitress themselves, or decides on how much to tip them and uses your money to do so!

But before you do so? Let’s cover the theory part.

Restaurant Tipping Prep-work

You’ve likely got a little prep-work to do here to get your child ready to tip a waiter/waitress. Some are just conversations you can have, while others are little activities you can do to prep them for what they’ll do on your next restaurant trip.

Here are some suggested conversation topics to have ahead of time:

  1. How Waiters/Waitresses are Paid in the United States: Let’s outline a conversation you can have. “There are some professions in the United States where people are paid a very small wage by the company/restaurant itself, and make the majority of their pay based on their performance. These professions are normally in the service industry, where someone is serving something to someone else. A waiter/waitress makes very little money each hour. Under federal law, the minimum cash wage payment is $2.13/hour. Some states make employers pay more than this, but no employer can pay less.” (Pssst: it actually turns out that tipped wages must equal that of minimum wage, or the employer has to ante up to make up the difference…but you can keep things simple at this point).
  2. What is a Tip?: A tip (aka, gratuity) is an optional payment you make to an individual on top of the bill. The amount that you give can be based off of different factors, with the primary one being that you were given good service.
  3. Do you Tip Pre-Tax Amount, or Post-Tax?: You typically tip based on the pre-tax amount…but honestly, most people (myself included) forget this and just tip based off of the total amount at the bottom of the receipt. Could be a good conversation to have.
  4. Do you Tip on Pre-Discount Amount, or Post-Discount Amount?: Generally speaking, when you use a coupon at a restaurant, you should tip on the pre-discounted amount. Think about it – the server is putting in the same amount of work.
  5. Dine-In Vs. Takeout Tipping: What happens if you dine-in versus pick up an order of food – do you need to tip the pick-up? Tipping gets a little shady sometimes, so it’s good to answer these questions for your kids with an eye towards both common etiquette and your own values. The article above looks at this from various angles (fyi: it’s got some language in it, so don’t send your kiddo directly over!).
  6. How Do You Identify Good Vs. Bad Service?: Again, part of this is your judgement call, and what you value. Do you value and compensate for speedy service? If your order isn’t right, is it the waiter’s fault or do you not reflect this in the tip? Do you tip 20% regardless because of the low amount waiters are paid? Answer these questions for yourself before talking to your child about what you consider good versus bad service, and how you adjust your tip accordingly.

Here are some suggested activities to have them do ahead of time to make teaching money skills easier:

Compare the Average Waitress Hourly Earnings with Hourly Minimum Wage

To give your child some perspective plus understanding for why you tip a waiter/waitress, you might want to have them research what the federal (and maybe even your state’s) tipped wages minimum is versus what the federal minimum wage is.

To give you a reference point for a good money conversation, the federal tipped wage minimum is $2.13/hour, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour.

Note: Again, I’d like to mention that employers have to actually make up the difference in tips + minimum tipped wage received so that waiters/waitresses receive the equivalent of the federal minimum wage. Whether or not you want to go into this level of detail is up to you and where your child’s at. If they’re ready to get a job of their own soon? Then this could be a good discussion to have.

Practice Calculating Tips on a Few Restaurant Bill Scenarios

Ideally, you would have a few old restaurant receipts to do this with. But no worries if you don’t! Just throw a few scenarios to your child and hand them a calculator.

Here’s three scenarios for you to tweak to make your own:

  • Restaurant Experience #1: You and your friends go out to eat at your local restaurant. Everything goes pretty well, but you do notice that the waitress forgets to refill your drink order. She also accidentally gives you the wrong order from another table. The total bill is $43.14, before taxes. How much tip do you leave?
  • Restaurant Experience #2: You and your family go out to eat for a nice, long, Saturday brunch. It’s a restaurant you don’t normally go to, and it’s actually more expensive than you guys usually spend. The service is very good, and the food is quite yummy! The total bill comes to $69.06 after tax, and $65.00 before tax. How much tip do you leave?
  • Restaurant Experience #3: You and your family go to a restaurant, and your Mom has a $15-coupon she uses. The service and food are pretty good, and you guys all have a good time. The bill comes to $35.00 after the coupon is used. The total before the discount is $50.00. How much tip do you leave?

Game Time: Have them Tip

Now that you’ve done some prep-work to get your child ready to tip, it’s time to actually let them do it!

You can let your child in on the tipping process in a number of ways – choose what makes you most comfortable:

  • Give them Full Control: Ready to give your child full control over the tipping of your next restaurant experience? Go for it! If the tip is too much or too little, it’s up to you whether or not you’ll fix it with the wait staff.
  • Let them Decide How Much of Your Money will be Tipped: You can also let them do the decision-making and calculating for how much the tip is for, and then you leave the actual tip.
  • Let them Pay for the Tip Out of their Pocket: You can let them know they get to leave the tip, but that they also must do so out of their own money.

Tools to Use for Calculating the Tip

I wanted to leave you with one final resource – a few different options to give your child for actually doing the tip calculation.

Your child can use one of the following:

  • Good ‘old paper and pen
  • Calculator on their smart phone (or yours)
  • Have them download a free tip app to their smart phone (or yours)

So, what do you think – are you ready to let your child leave a tip? I’d love to hear about your experience.

I never thought of tipping at a resturant as teaching money skills to my kids. Definitely going to try this mama bear's money teaching idea to see if my kiddos catch on! G teaching money skills, | money teaching | learning money | money lessons | teaching money activities | how to teach money | teaching kids money | teaching life skills | teaching | kids | parents | parenting | #teachingmoneyskills, #moneyteaching #learningmoney #moneylessons #teachingmoneyactivities #howtoteachmoney #teachingkidsmoney #teachinglifeskills #teaching #kids #parents #parenting