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Kids & Money: How to Save, Spend, and Earn at Any Age

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Kids & Money

April is all about spring blossoms, taxes, and, of course, Youth Savings Month! So, why do we celebrate a whole month devoted to kids saving money? Because when we teach kids about money—whether it’s how to save up for a toy or fund their future education—we set them up for future financial success. But it’s not just about understanding the value of a dollar, it’s about building good financial habits. To get you started, we’ve got some age-based practice tips for kids of all ages to learn how to save, spend, and earn wisely.  


Ages 2 to 5: At this age, kids are just beginning to understand the concept of money but may not fully grasp its value or purpose. This is a great time to give your young savers their first piggy bank. Encourage them to save a portion of any money they receive, even if just a few coins. If your preschooler does not have a savings account, consider opening one. In April (Youth Savings Month), young savers who open an account will receive a FREE Maps piggy bank plus incentives for each $10 deposit.

  • Extra Credit: Make a game out of counting coins. Not only does this help improve their counting skills, but it can also help them differentiate between the coins and learn their value.

Ages 6 to 10: Children in this age group understand money’s importance and can grasp some basic financial concepts. So, encourage them to save for specific goals, such as a new toy or a family outing. Introduce the concept of earning interest by adding a small amount to their savings for every dollar saved over time.

  • Extra Credit: Start a family savings project for something big—like a trip to Disneyland or a new video game console. Get a large jar and label it with your goal so you can watch your savings grow. Encourage everyone in the family to add a little money to the jar whenever possible. Did you find some loose change in your pockets? Add it to the jar. Got $10 in a birthday card? Add $1 to the jar. Agree as a family to commit a portion of your monthly income (and allowances) to the fund.

Ages 11 to 15: Introduce the idea of long-term saving. Encourage your young savers to set aside their dollars for big purchases that excite them—like a bike, video game, or outing with friends. Discuss the costs of future goals like college. And, if you haven’t already, help them open a checking or savings account. Explain the benefits of a safe, NCUA-insured account that earns interest.

  • Extra Credit: A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a great tool to teach kids about annual percentage yield (APY) and how interest builds over time. Explain how CDs can be used as a long-term savings strategy—mainly because they offer a higher interest rate and require financial discipline. They will learn that by not touching their money, they can earn more over time.

Ages 16+: Emphasize the importance of saving for emergencies and unexpected expenses. Introduce investing basics and discuss long-term financial planning.

  • Extra Credit: If your teenager has a job or side hustle, help them create a savings plan that dedicates 10 percent of their earnings to a savings account or Certificate of Deposit (CD). Encourage them to save a little bit each month. Talk about how their savings will grow if they don’t touch the account—much like you would with a 401(k). If you can, play the role of a future employer and match a portion of what they save.


Ages 2 to 5: When kids are small, keep spending simple and concrete. Allow them to use coins to buy small treats or toys. Teach them to wait and save for something they want rather than buying impulsively.

  • Extra Credit: Give your preschooler a budget to purchase supplies for a craft or cooking project. Ask: Can we make your favorite cookies for less than $10? Make a list of ingredients and work together to come in under budget.

Ages 6 to 10: School-age children are the perfect age to learn the difference between wants and needs. Consider offering grade schoolers an allowance so they feel empowered to make choices about spending. To encourage savvy spending, stay firm on the amount you give them each week. If they run out of money before their next allowance day, they’ll learn an important lesson about budgeting.

  • Extra Credit: Involve your grade-schoolers in budgeting decisions for family activities or purchases. Let them help plan a weekly menu or budget for groceries. Build a monthly entertainment budget as a family. By working together, you can give them first-hand experience that translates into lifelong money management skills.

Ages 11 to 15: In their pre-teens and early teens, most young savers can handle a small measure of financial independence. So, it’s a good time to introduce more complex saving goals—like a college or car fund—and discuss how today’s spending affects those long-term goals. It’s also a great time for them to learn about making responsible cashless purchases. Help them open a checking account and explain how a debit card works.

  • Extra Credit: Challenge your pre-teen or early teenager to comparison shop for things they want—like clothes, games, and snacks. Show your child how prices vary by size, features, quality, and retailer. Allow them to form judgments about features vs. cost—and don’t forget the value of thrifting. Over time, your young consumers will learn how the money saved from comparison shopping adds up. You can further incentivize the process by matching whatever they save for a week, a month, or even a year.

Ages 16+: Teach responsible credit card use and the importance of paying bills on time. Discuss the potential consequences of overspending or getting into debt. Encourage your teen to track their spending in a notes app or budget app on their phone.

  • Extra credit: Before they embark upon adulthood, teens should learn about credit scores, credit reports, and how to use credit responsibly. So, consider opening a Youth Platinum Mastercard to help your teen practice with supervision. If approved, they’ll get a $200 line of credit and begin to build a credit history. Go over the statements together so your teen can track their spending and see how interest accumulates. Discuss how credit utilization and on-time payments can help them maintain a good credit score.


Ages 2 to 5: While they may not earn money through traditional means, you can reward good behavior with stickers or small treats to instill the idea of earning.

  • Extra Credit: Hide some coins around the house and send little ones on a scavenger hunt to find them. For very small kids, place the coins in plastic Easter eggs or plastic bags to make them more manageable.  

Ages 6 to 10: Teach the connection between work and income by assigning chores with monetary rewards. Kids aged 6 to 10 can dust, do laundry, vacuum, pull weeds, or wash the car (among other things). Offer to pay double for particularly difficult or irregular tasks—like mowing the lawn. Or encourage entrepreneurship by supporting small outside ventures like lemonade stands or selling crafts.

  • Extra Credit: Grade schoolers discover new things about themselves every day. So, it’s a great age to ask: what are you passionate about? Encourage them to pursue odd jobs (either inside or outside the home) that align with those passions. Do they love baking? Help them build a collection of favorite recipes to sell at bake sales or craft fairs. Do they adore animals? Maybe they can walk the neighbor’s dog or feed grandma’s cat while she is on vacation.

Ages 11 to 15: Encourage part-time jobs like babysitting, dog walking, or lawn mowing to earn money independently. Teach the value of saving a portion of their earnings for future needs or emergencies.

  • Extra Credit: Pre-teen kids and early teenagers are perfectly primed to build themselves a brand. Whether they are pet sitting, selling handmade goods, or doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, encourage your child to create a business and marketing plan. Ask: What will you make or do? What is your business name? What does your logo look like? Do you have a catchphrase? Once their plan is in place, help them design and distribute flyers (both online and in-person).

Ages 16+: Teenagers have a lot of options when it comes to earning money—including traditional jobs. For a next-level experience, teens should seek a side hustle that makes the most of their particular talents. Are they excellent at math? Maybe they can tutor other kids. Killer tennis player? Look for coaching gigs. Alternatively—for a jumpstart on the future—seek internships or part-time jobs related to their interests or career aspirations. While you are at it, discuss college funding options and encourage your savers to explore scholarships or financial aid.

  • Extra Credit: Kids ages 16 to 18 aren’t old enough for their own brokerage account, but they can dabble in early investing through custodial accounts (with the help of a parent, guardian, or trusted adult). Research investment terminology and concepts together. Discuss the risks of investing and the importance of diversification. To keep them engaged, invest in something that interests your child. Or, if you don’t wish to invest real money, try a stock market simulator game like How the Market Works, the Investopedia Stock Market Game, or Build Your Stax.

Teaching kids about money management is a lifelong process that starts at a young age. With practice, children can develop the skills they need to build a nest egg, navigate future debt, and budget for major milestones. The good news is—whether you’re 2 or 52—smart money habits can be learned. The key is to make the process simple, fun, and consistent. And, you don’t have to be a financial expert to teach your kids savvy skills. Just keep the conversation going. When you don’t have answers to their questions, research the answers together.

Once your young saver sets a savings goal, tell us all about it in our Youth Savings Month Contest. Three lucky winners (chosen randomly from all eligible entries) will receive $100 toward their savings goal. The contest ends April 23, 2024, and winners will be notified by April 30, 2024.

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