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How to Encourage Saving Money in Your Kids & Teens (11 Strategies)

Quit scratching your head, trying to figure out how to encourage saving money. Instead, use these tips to get your kids and teens saving more, today!

You can talk about the importance of saving money until you’re blue in the face…but until your child or teen really internalizes those benefits, they’re not going to do it.

girl smiling with hands in air and piggy bank in forefront, text overlay "ways to encourage your child to save money"

Or, at least, not enthusiastically.

Instead of going through the reasons to save money for teenagers or kids, I’m going to share with you specific ideas you can do today on how to encourage saving money.  

Let’s dive into strategies and specific things you can do to encourage your child to save their money.

Hint: this article is sort of the cherry on top of these two foundational ones, which you’ll want to go back and read, too:

How Can I Encourage My Child to Save Money?

We’re going to go over lots of ideas for encouraging your child to save money, in the following ways:

  • Incentivizing them to save more money
  • Physically making it easier for them to save more money
  • Showing them what it means to save money, and what it can do for them

Let the encouragement begin.

Most kids will find it hard to make it through a long savings challenge or savings goal. Which is why I created the 30-day Unicorn Money Saving Challenge. You should check it out!

flatlay of unicorn savings challenge pages with pastel colors on yellow background

1. Give them a Visual Savings Reminder

Savings account statements can be kinda demotivating. And flat.

Instead, download a free printable savings tracker or a printable money-saving challenge for kids, assign a money amount to each space, and hang it in a prominent place.

They’ll get excited when they get to color in another space, or two more spaces, or an entire chunk.  

2. Offer them a Savings Displacement Program

Would you be willing to let your child “harvest” money for them to save from the money they save the household?

Put your child or teen in charge of clipping coupons each week either online or from the paper. For each coupon that gets used (tallied at the bottom of your grocery receipt), deposit the amount saved into their savings.

What I love about this idea is that it not only encourages your child to save money, but it also teaches them a really valuable money management life skill – how to hunt for and use discounts for everyday products.

My sister once did this when we were teens, and she saved our household $15 in one shopping trip!

Electronics cost money. Teach your child this by offering them a monetary savings incentive for cutting down. For each hour they don’t watch television, they earn $0.25-$2.00 in saved electricity costs towards their goal.

3. Change their Allowance Cycle to Change their Savings Behavior

Change the duration in between giving out an allowance to see if it changes their savings behavior.

So, if you currently give an allowance once a week, try every other week. Can they keep enough money in both weeks to pay for the things that they want?

You could also change the day of the week you give an allowance. If you give one on Fridays, and they spend it all the next day, then give an allowance on Mondays instead and see if they can manage to save some of it for the weekend.

Remember – kids need to start small and very short-term when learning how to save. You might not think it’s a good goal to get them to save their allowance money from week to week, or even to save their money from the week to the weekend…but they have to start somewhere, right?

4. Show them What Saving Money Can Do

Does your child understand the power of saving money?

It’s beyond $1 + $1 = $2.

Kids need to understand that money accumulates when left alone – not only because you’re adding money to it, but also because it’s earning even more money (when in a bank, earning interest).

Resources to help include this Camp Millionaire video on compound interest, and this article on how to explain compound interest to a child.

Then again, their money is not going to earn a fortune in compound interest. Keep reading for a better idea of how to keep your child excited about saving their money.

Psst: like these ideas? You'll definitely want to check out my teen money challenges.

5. Introduce a Parent Saving Match Program

Let’s face it – between really low savings account interest rates, and the small amount of money your child will be able to save in the next year or two, they’re not likely to be completely motivated by compound interest.  

You can get around that by creating a Mom and Dad Savings Match Program. Decide on how much you’re willing to match – double their savings account interest rate, 10%, 25%, 50%?

Then, let your child know that whatever amount they save by XX deadline, or for XX savings goal, you’ll match it by that percentage.

Help them to calculate a few amounts so that they can see the potential impact on their own bottom line.

For example, if you offer a 25% match, and they save $1,000, then you would add a sweet $250 to their pot by whatever deadline you set (up to you if you have a deadline or not).

Also, decide how you’ll pay out.

You could:

  • Pay them at the end of each month for what they’ve saved in that month
  • Pay them when they meet their savings goal, and it’s time for them to start shopping for that car, new iPhone, or whatever they’re going to purchase
  • Pay them on XX date, the deadline you set for when your savings match program is ending

6. Show them What Saving Money Can Accomplish

Now that they know what saving money can do, you’ll want to give them several examples of what it’s accomplished in your life and in the family’s life.

Some tangible things you’ve been able to do and to have because you saved your money.

Tell your child a story about something specific you wanted to save up for – either as a child or as an adult – and how you successfully saved up for it. Include lots of details, please! How much did you save up, and how long did it take? Did you earn any interest on the money?

This could be for:

  • Family or personal vacations
  • New television or appliance that you use daily/weekly
  • Tickets for a concert you got to enjoy with your friends
  • A down payment so that you could buy the home everyone lives in
  • Your first car
  • Etc.

7. Establish a Household Pay-Yourself-First Rule

Set up a “Pay-yourself-first” household rule for both you AND your kiddo by telling them that “in this household, we pay ourselves XX% first off of all money we earn.”

Then, skim this off the top of their allowance and save it for them.

Make sure you follow through on your end – you can verbally mention that you received a tax refund, and put XX% into savings, per the household rule. Or whenever another occasion comes that you get unexpected/expected money.

Hint: queasy about sharing amounts? There’s no need to here – just tell them you received money for XXX reason, and you’ll be putting that percentage of it aside into your savings account.

8. Offer a Mystery Savings Present

Buy them a savings present, and wrap it in a surprise box.

Tell them that when they reach their savings goal, not only will you help them purchase whatever it was they want to buy (by driving them to the store they need to make the purchase at, or buying it online for them and letting them reimburse you, etc.), but that they get to open their mystery gift as well.

9. Set Up a Savings Expectation with a Bank Day

Establish bank days where you’ll swing by their savings account so that they can deposit money. This could be bi-weekly, weekly, once a month, etc.

And to really get them motivated? Swing by anyway even if they don’t have any money to deposit to remind them about the importance your family places on saving money, and about their savings account.

Psst: it's best to not keep all of their money in a wallet. Here are things to keep in a wallet for teens, plus my review of the best wallets for teens and the best wallets for kids.

10. Hold a Family Savings Competition

Have each family member come up with a savings goal. Add the person’s name, their goal, and the amount they’re trying to save to a leaderboard.

Each week, everyone updates with how much they’ve saved towards their goal.

Base this competition on percentages of money saved towards the goal rather than monetary amount, to make it fair for everyone.

Decide on a deadline, and a prize for the winner!

Psst: like this idea, but want it to be a family savings goal you all work on together? Here’s my article for how to set up a family savings goal.

11. Set Up a Fun Negative Consequence

Remember the Ice Bucket challenge that broke the internet a few years ago, where you had to either donate money to a good cause or toss a bucket of ice water over your head?  

It was a negative (but fun) consequence of not doing something.

Set something similar up with your kiddo for if they don’t reach their savings goal by X date. Make it fun…and slightly uncomfortable (yes, I got dunked with ice water myself!).

This is one of my favorite saving tips for kids!

I hope I've shown you some fun and helpful ideas for how to encourage saving money behaviors from your child and teen. I'd love to hear what works, and what doesn't, in the comments below!

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Her money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Amanda is the founder and CEO of Frugal Confessions, LLC. Read more here or on LinkedIn.