5 Important Money Lessons for Kids of All Ages

The kids are back in classes, and the learning is off to a good start (right?). Between the math homework, pop quizzes and history lessons that just don’t stick, it’s easy to forget about some of the lifelong money lessons your kids have right in front of them at home. Not sure where to start? We’ll give you a headstart with five fun ones! 

Money lesson #1: You’ll have to make decisions with your money. 

This one’s easy for grownups because we make decisions all the time. But kids are still learning the ropes of decision-making. Start small. Explain why you choose to spend money on groceries instead of takeout. Or clue them in on why you chose to buy one car over another. Eventually, they’ll start making tradeoffs on their own. 

Show, don’t tell: Get your kids a Greenlight login and send them money for spending and saving. The next time they ask you to buy something at the store, tell them they have a choice to make in their Greenlight app! 

Money lesson #2: Money comes from hard work. 

The earlier kids can understand this, the better. Psst, we’ve got an idea. Set them up with chores and choose whether or not an allowance works for your family. Believe it or not, pulling out the vacuum or washing the car actually helps your kids become more responsible. Just ask Marty Rossman, who researched the impact of household chores at a young age. She found the “best predictor of young adults’ success” was their involvement in household chores at a young age. 

Make chores fun: Turn on some music and come up with a fun name for your kids’ chores in your Greenlight app.  

Money lesson #3: Compound growth helps you grow your money.

Ever heard of the marshmallow experiment? You know — one marshmallow now or two marshmallows later? Your kids can learn about compound growth in simple terms like this. If you save and invest at a young age (even if that means spending less in the short term), it’ll pay off in the long run. Big time.

Incentivize your kids: Pay your kids an interest rate on their savings. Setting Parent-Paid Interest lets you decide how much you want to give, from 0-100%. The average rate for Greenlight parents is 18%. Start here and raise it as they save more. Spoiler alert — they will. 

Money lesson #4: You are your own money managing boss. 

One day, your kids will be budgeting, saving for their dream car and making big decisions with their money… OR they can get started right now. To get them in the habit, encourage them to put money toward savings goals or try Greenlight’s Round Ups to send extra cents into savings. They’ll get the hang of it — and yes, they’ll get that dream car much sooner if they start young!

Let them take the reigns: When they’re managing their money, they might have a hiccup every now and then. That’s okay! They’re learning while they have you to coach them. Talk about those hiccups and learn from them together. 

Money lesson #5: Money doesn’t grow on trees (but really!)

Okay, let’s be real. How many times have you told your kids that money doesn’t grow on trees? It’s one thing to say it, but for them to learn it, they’ll need to see it in action. When they’re constantly borrowing money from you (especially cash), they don’t have a full grasp on spending and saving. To them, it’s just their parent’s bank account — which may seem endless. 

Get the ball rolling: Give them their own debit card (a la Greenlight) with money set aside for different expenses: restaurants, gas only, general spending, you name it! 

That’s a wrap! Now you know how to make chores fun, get a debit card for your kids and set an interest rate to incentivize saving habits. And hey, these aren’t just money lessons for kids —  you might even learn a thing or two about managing your money!

This Greenlight teen used his savings to publish a book series about overcoming your fears

Writers move and shape our world, and we know a Greenlight teen who is making a big impact with his wordsmithing wisdom. Stephen M. is a 13-year-old who wrote a book, runs a side hustle and is saving his money to publish an entire series. Writers and dreamers — this one’s for you!

Meet Stephen 

Stephen is a writer, artist, musician, athlete and entrepreneur. WOW! He’s been playing baseball since he was little, coached by a special someone — his dad. Recently, he moved all the way from Florida to Alaska. (Talk about a big move!) And at 13 years old, he decided to publish a book.

Ever since he could talk, Stephen has had a stutter. While 5-10% of children have a stutter at some point, about 3 out of 4 children outgrow it. Stephen did not outgrow his stutter, but he did outgrow his fears. So, he turned to his pen and paper to weave together a story made to inspire and educate the world on speech fluency disorders and disabilities.

How Stephen got started

Growing up, Stephen faced challenges with his stutter. He took the time to learn about it and he discovered that our differences are what make us unique and special.

In true writer fashion, he channeled his thoughts and feelings into a story and named the book Stutter-fly. Stutter-fly follows the story of a butterfly named Jimmy, who goes on a journey to learn how to overcome his stutter. What he ends up learning is so much bigger: He learns to love himself for who he is.

When he finished his story, he had one last step before publishing it. He needed an illustrator to bring his words to life with beautiful imagery. Here’s where Stephen’s entrepreneurial spirit comes in handy. He pulled together his resources, whipped out his business brain and started selling water bottles and candy to pay for a professional illustrator. 

He set a savings goal of $2,000 in his Greenlight app and picked up weekly chores to earn an allowance on his Greenlight card. After reaching his goal and picking an illustrator, Stutter-fly was born. 

Just like Jimmy the Stutter-fly learned (you’ll have to read the whole story!), Stephen has learned an important lesson about being nice to others. He plans to publish a book series to inspire readers of all ages to appreciate our differences as part of our stories.

To put action behind his words, Stephen saves 10% of his earnings for a non-profit organization he’s planning to start for young Black authors aged 5 to 17. No matter how old you are or what you do, there’s always a chance to do good with your money. 

What’s next?

Writer’s block isn’t hitting Stephen anytime soon. He’s already brewing ideas for the next book in his series. That’s right — series. He’s got big plans, with a goal of $8,000 to help him live out his dreams and bring his words to the world. 

In honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day, we hope Stephen’s story can inspire you and your family. To learn about International Stuttering Awareness Day, read more on Stephen’s website or order his book, Stutter-fly, on Amazon.

5 ways to use your kids’ debit card to talk about holiday spending

As we come up on March 95th (er, autumn), it’s safe to say we could all use a little joy around here. The holidays are around the corner, which might mean gifts, homemade meals, decorations up the wazoo and of course… holiday spending. Grab your kids’ debit cards and open your Greenlight app for ways to budget for the season. 

Create a fall budgeting bucket list 

Illustration of fall leaves and rake

You’ve probably seen the fall bucket lists that are all over Pinterest right now. Your kids can make one too! With your budgeting bucket list, talk about saving, setting spending limits and picking up extra work to bump up the budget. Here’s a list for your kids to get started: 

  • Pick three outdoor chores to add to your rotation as the temperatures drop. Every two weeks of allowance (it’s automated!), put a % in your holiday gift funds.
  • Spend on one fun fall activity. Take a picture and pat yourself on the back because you budgeted for it. 
  • Set a new savings goal every month for the rest of the year. Have some fun with it! 
  • Have a practice negotiation exercise with a scarecrow or a pumpkin. Remember: negotiating your allowance impacts your budget! Make it fun with an autumn-themed negotiation subject. 

Let them spend

Probably not the advice you were expecting, right? Well, if you haven’t heard it enough from us… kids learn by doing. They learn what it means to spend money when they actually do it. 

Let’s face it — they’re going to spend money at some point. And if you want a nice gift over the holidays (wink, wink), it’s better to be there with them for their first big purchase so you can point out ways to save up for the next one. Go online shopping together and let them pay for a holiday item of their choice (like decorations for their room or a holiday gift) using their Greenlight card.

Look for sales together

Jack-o-lantern saying "Deal or no deal?"

You know what’s better than scoring a sale? Finding a sale with your child. It’s the parent jackpot because 1) You’re both saving money and 2) You’re laying the foundation for your kids to always look for sales. 

From early bird October deals to Black Friday, you have lots of opportunities to teach your kids the value of a good bargain. When Cyber Monday rolls around, take a moment to talk about online safety. And when we get to December (finally!), show your kids how to use their Greenlight app to create different buckets for their holiday spending. P.S., if it gets too out of hand, set spending limits in your companion app.

Make a gift list

One of the greatest joys of the holiday season is giving. Instill this habit in your kids by sitting down and drafting a gift list with them. From Uncle Jim’s chocolate-covered pretzels to gag gifts for the siblings, this exercise will get your kids ahead of the game on their shopping lists — with an estimated cost for each gift. 

Aside from holiday gifts, kids can also celebrate generosity by giving back to the community. This year, volunteering might be tough (unless you’re volunteering virtually), so a nice alternative way to give is by donating to charitable organizations.

 Remember what matters

It’s easy for shoppers of all ages to get caught up in the holiday spending chaos. With COVID-19, budgets may be tighter and celebrations may be different. Come back to what matters most: your family. 

While this may not be a “money talk,” it’s a great real-life talk. Let your kids ask their questions or express their opinions about this holiday season. We’re all doing the best we can, so if you need a friend, coupon expert or budgeting tool, you can always lean on Greenlight.