Ask an Expert·5 min read

Is It Time to Talk to Your Kids About Money? Here’s How to Know

mom and daughter putting money in piggy bank
Photo: PeopleImages via iStock
March 7, 2024

When you’re a parent, the pressure to make sure your kids are successful (and good with money) is on. But how much info is too much for a kid? We asked Ashley M. Fox, a financial educator and the founder and CEO of Empify, for all her best tips on teaching kids the value of money. Hint: It's almost never too early to start.



ASHLEY M FOX - Financial educator and founder and CEO of Empify and The WealthBuilders Community.

When should I start teaching my kids about budgeting?

When they understand that the things they want cost money. Start by saying things like, “Hey, we're going to save this money now so that you can buy candy later.” It’s about connecting money to what they want. You can't tell a 6-year-old to save for college (she doesn't even know what that is). But you can say, “Let's save now so that we can buy more L.O.L. Surprise! dolls later down the line for your birthday.”

As they get older, depending on their age, show them what you're doing [with your money] and do it with them. Allow them to do things like make deposits so that they can experience that process with you. Once they’re in middle school, talk about what bank accounts are. Talk about what your paycheck looks like, and how you prepare in advance for what's to come. When your child is in high school, tell them about student loans and credit cards.

Should I include my kids in household budgeting?

Yes. Kids don’t need to know about every bill you have, but they should know the expenses that come with taking care of them. The important ones, at least. The child may not be covering all the expenses you have — and they shouldn’t have to — but allow them to contribute to at least one expense. Around age 8 is a good time to start. They’ll feel included in the process, because if they want what they’re spending on, they’ll manage their money, and you’re doing it with them. This only works when it is something they want, so be strategic around what expenses you choose (think: ice cream from the school cafeteria). As the child gets older, things like their cell phone bills and their ability to contribute won’t be something foreign, but instead a habit they’ve cultivated over time.

How can I make learning about money fun for my kids?

To be effective, you have to meet a child where they are. The first thing you have to do is pay attention to what they do for fun. Kids might like TikTok or certain TV shows, right? It's all about taking what they do, and what they like, and connecting that to building wealth. So one of the easiest things to do is say, “Hey, you're using YouTube all day. Did you know that YouTube is owned by Google? Google is a stock that you can invest in.” One account that I personally like, that I use with my 6-year-old niece, is with a company called Stockpile. Stockpile is a really good account for kids because it looks like a coloring book. And instead of saying we're buying Disney stock, it's a picture of Disney and the logo.

When should I give my kid their own debit card?

A child should receive a debit card when they can bring in income. Take them to the bank and educate them on how to open an account, how to deposit their checks, how to set up direct deposit, and utilize a debit card. The moment money comes in and out of an account for a child, they can learn how to manage the inflows and outflows. You need to effectively strengthen their ability to learn but also allow them to learn by doing.

Is paying for chores a good way to start teaching kids about money?

Chores teach children how to work. We need to teach them how to think, be creative, and build businesses. The more you tell them to do work and get paid for it, the more we are embedding an employee mindset. While there is nothing wrong with having a job, we rarely allow our children the space to creatively find a way to solve a problem.

Instead, talk to your child and tell them you have a project for them. Try saying, “There are things our family needs help with around the house. I want you to come up with the key things you can help us with. You’ll own that project each week (or month), and I will pay you.” Or ask them to find solutions for problems around the house. Once they decide the problems around the house, help them build a schedule to get it done, and let them decide the most effective way to achieve it with excellence.

Set expectations, and allow them to rise to the occasion.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Live Smarter

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.