If your child has ever suggested you just pay with your credit card when you said you couldn’t afford something or wondered why your family vacations are less grandiose than the neighbors (or cousins!), you know how early money education can and should start.
There’s so much you want your child to know about money before they leave home, whether it’s about spending and saving, investing, interest rates, and real estate. And frankly, if you’re like me, there are some of those things you’re a little shaky on yourself.
It’s never too early to start thinking about how to teach your child foundational financial principles and these books all offer excellent ways to start the discussion, whether it’s with a children’s book you read together or advice aimed at parents.
Here are eight that will have your whole family ready to make smart decisions about money, now and for decades to come:
Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins and G. Brian Karas
If you want to start small with a casual conversation about money, this picture book by the legendary Emily Jenkins is the perfect place to start. Two friends decide they want to sell lemonade but it’s freezing cold outside – can they make it work? Packed with basic money concepts and the concept of entrepreneurship, it’s a great book to read with your child or to a classroom. Just make sure you have some lemonade on hand for when you’re finished.
Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig
If you don’t know much about investing but want your kid to have a better financial education than you got, this book is a great place to start. It starts with a little bit of the history of money and how money and coins are made and destroyed, before jumping into the basics of savings and investing from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and savings accounts with advice about when to choose a particular one. It has a bunch of real-world examples too, that make it fun and useful.
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
I read the first chapter of this book aloud to my fourth-graders when I was a school librarian and the copy never stayed on the shelf for the rest of the year. Siblings Evan and Jessie’s rivalry sets off a lemonade stand battle with both of them determined to make more money than the other, no matter what it takes. The story itself is engrossing, but it also passes along a good basic business vocabulary. There are more books in the series too, if your kids get hooked (and they probably will!).
Written by an investor and lawyer with an economics background, this is a hands-on book for both kids and parenting. Bianchi wrote this because he was frustrated by how hard it was to find books that made finances interesting and accessible for his own son. The book is divided into 100 bite-size sections and jammed with examples and illustrations to make it useful and fun.
Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children by Neale S. Godfrey, Carolina Edwards and Tad Richards.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step program that your family can implement that will work for all ages, Godfrey has you covered. Her system teaches about earning, saving and spending in a way that reflects your own family’s values. It’s also filled with exercises and examples for how to deal with all the tricky circumstances that arise when money is introduced into the parenting dynamic. There’s a version specifically aimed at parents of teenagers, too.
Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze
Dave Ramsey is a household name for much of America, and even more so for Rachel Cruze, who calls him “dad.” She grew up on the principles that Dave Ramsey is known for and now is passing them along to her own children. All of the secrets they’ve learned from their own experiences and millions of families across the country are here so your family can raise smart kids too who know how to win when it comes to finances.
If you grew up in a family where money was never talked about and you want something different for your children, this book is the perfect guide. Children are super curious about money and are anxious to know how to get it, how to spend it, and how YOU use it. This book covers all the basics about how to talk money with your kids, whether it’s allowances, the tooth fairy, handling the purchases of clothing, cars, and phones, how to prepare for college tuition and whether your child should have a job in high school. If you have a money question related to kids, don’t miss this excellent book.
This book has all sorts of fascinating and useful chapters about modern family life, including meals, sex and discipline, but one of the best chapters is about how families handle money and what things successful families have in common when it comes to finances (I read this book several years ago and still clearly remember the part about how early money education is like training wheels for your child – it may be painful to watch them crash, but it’s way less risky than having them in a car without any experience steering and sharing the road). Buy it for that chapter, but you’ll love all the rest of it too.
What books or resources have you found helpful for teaching your children about finances?
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