University of Minnesota Extension
 Menu  Menu

Extension > Family > Personal Finance > Youth and Money > Adult Resources > Adult Resources for Preschool and Elementary Students

Adult Resources

girl with coin jar

Adult Resources for Preschool and Elementary Students

Kids learn about money from their parents — and they start young! Find suggestions for books to read to kids and podcasts answering common questions.

Featured Resources

mother eading to child

Using Children's Literature to Teach Financial Literacy

Did you know children's books can help teach financial literacy to youth? The tools and resources found on this page can help you no matter if you're a parent, a teacher, or someone else who has "teachable moments" with youth.

young man listening to ipod

Kids and Personal Finance Podcast

Why teach children about money and spending? These audio clips answer many common questions parents have about children and money.

Getting Started

Not sure how to start teaching children about money? Take a look at these handouts.

Once Upon a Time...

Originally a UMConnect Presentation hosted by Lori Hendrickson and Sara Croyman, University of Minnesota Educators.

April 11, 2013

Transcript here

Children and Allowances and Alternatives


Reviewed 2013.

How money was handled in your family when you were a child will greatly affect how you handle money with your children. This is Jan Gilman, Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension.

It's very important for parents to use a consistent approach to giving their children money and how they teach them about the five concept of money management: earning, spending, sharing, saving and borrowing money.

There are four main ways children receive money — allowances, the dole, cash gifts, and earnings.

Each of these ways has advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Allowance teaches basic money management, promotes independence, encourages communication and provides the practice of living on a regular income.

Allowances can promote a sense of responsibility, teach the value of money and create and encourage planning and goal setting.

If you'd like more information about teaching children personal finance through allowances and alternatives, visit the University of Minnesota Extension Youth and Money website.

Parental Consistency With Children and Money



What is your first childhood memory of money? How money was handled in your family when you were growing up will greatly affect how you handle money with your children.

Before any decisions are made about how or if children should receive money, each parent should identify and discuss his or her own attitudes about money. This will hopefully lead to a mutual view about how children are to receive money.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and each other for discussion:

What does money mean to you?
What good memories and bad memories about money do you have from your childhood?
Did you receive an allowance and what were the rules about it? If an allowance was not given, how did you receive money?
What feelings do you have about how you received money?
What attitudes and feelings about money have you carried into adulthood based on your families approach to money when you were a child?
What attitudes about money would you like to instill in your children?

Remember, parents are the first teachers about money, even if it is only by what children observe mom and dad doing!

If you need more information about the pros and cons of allowances, and methods for teaching your children about money, check out the Youth & Money section of the University of Minnesota Extension website at Let’s raise financially capable children.

Children's Allowance Guidelines


April 2011

One valuable way to help children learn about money management is by giving them some money to spend. For many this is through a regular allowance given by the parent. Let's review some helpful guidelines.

Be consistent by setting a day to give the allowance. Agree upon the amount and the limits for spending. You may want to set expectations for spending, saving and sharing.

Children need to be able to spend some money however they wish to practice making their own decisions. This also means you don't come to their rescue every time your child runs out of money. They need to learn the consequences of their own spending mistakes.

Guide and advise your children's money decisions rather than direct and dictate. Encourage and praise rather than criticize and rebuke. This helps develop confidence in their ability.

Remember your children will differ. Respect their individuality and avoid making comparisons with siblings or other children.

Be patient. It takes children time to learn to manage money and develop financial responsibility. Frequent references to their mistakes should be avoided; they usually are already aware of them.

The purpose of an allowance is to begin to shift some of the responsibility for goal setting, planning, implementing plans, and making choices for your child. A small investment of time and energy while the child is young can have big payoffs later in life.

For more information on helping your child or children become financial capable, check out the University of Minnesota Extension website,

Why should we instill sound money management principles in our kids?

Sarah Croymans, Extension Educator —


Why should we instill sound money management principles in our kids? This is Sara Croymans, Extension Educator for the University of Minnesota Extension.

Since our kids learn how to manage money mostly by watching how we manage ours, we can make a big difference in preparing them to recognize and defeat the debt-influencing forces which have overpowered many families.

Parents should keep these guidelines in mind as they begin teaching their children about money:

  1. Guide and advise rather than direct and dictate.
  2. Encourage and praise rather than criticize or rebuke.
  3. Allow children to learn by mistakes and by successes.
  4. Be consistent while taking children's differences into account.
  5. Include all family members in money management discussions, decision making, and activities as appropriate for their age.
  6. Expect all family members to perform unpaid, routine household chores based on their abilities.
  7. Express you desire to have things you can't afford. Children need to know that parents say "no" to themselves, too.

Your early efforts in teaching young children that money doesn't grow on trees or magically spring from the deepest recesses of your pockets should make money management easier for them later on. To learn more about Children and Money contact the University of Minnesota Extension, website,

Money learning activities to do with children

Sarah Croymans, Extension Educator —

April, 2011

The benefit of teaching children good money habits is well worth the effort. Children who are not taught these lessons may pay the consequences for a life-time. Some parents don't teach children about money because they don't think they should talk to children about money, or they don't feel they have the time or they think they don't have enough money. Regardless of income it is a good idea for parents to help their children learn money concepts starting when children are young.

The lessons need to be appropriate to the age of the child. Some lessons can be taught during story time by selecting books that teaches financial concepts. For example, the Berenstain Bears book series includes one about mama's new job and another is about 'trouble with money'. They will help parents talk about recognizing and allocating resources and saving.

Money use lessons can be taught through family board games like Monopoly, The Game of Life or Payday. The bonus of playing board games is learning the art of taking turns, selecting from options of what to do next, playing by the game rules and having conversation. There are technology based teaching games, too, but there's much to be said for having real family conversation.

For more information on teaching children and teens money skills, check out the University of Minnesota Extension Youth and Money website. You will find a link to it at It includes a list of appropriate books and other resource materials for all ages of children and youth to learn from. And mom and dad may learn, too.

Why teach children about money and spending?

Rosemary K. Heins, Extension Educator —

April, 2011

The early, formative years are ideal for talking with children about money because this is when life habits and skills are developed. Teaching children about spending helps them learn balance between wants and needs, comparing alternatives, keeping records and making decisions and taking responsibility for them.

Smart spending concepts can be taught by:

Letting children make mistakes and learn from the consequences. Children should also hear that you've made some mistakes and had to learn from them, too.

Let your child or children know you can't afford to buy everything you want, either. This could be brought out while you are shopping together or when you happen to see a television ad for a the latest technology gadget or for new cars.

Explain the bigger financial picture. For example, a movie involves not just the price of the admission, but gas for the car, popcorn, pop, time and energy.

Include children in financial decisions and discussions appropriate for their age. This helps them feel valued and tells them that money is not a subject 'we just don't talk about.' Keep the line of communication open for future conversations.

A bonus for parents who get involved in helping their children learn wise use of financial resources is that they increase their ability to manage their own financial resources.

For more help in teaching children money habits for life, including conversation starters to use with children, go to the University of Minnesota Extension website at

Help children learn through spending/saving plans

Sarah Croymans, Extension Educator

April, 2011

Money management is simply knowing how much money you have and then planning how to use it. It's helpful to have a spending plan. Most often I like to call it a spending/saving plan to help recognize the importance of savings. Other people call it a budget.

Parents don't have to wait until children are old enough to earn money to start talking about spending/saving plans. As soon as children start getting an allowance or a sum of money, introduce them to the idea of a spending/saving plan.

A plan can be for a week, a month or a whole year, depending on the child's age and maturity, and on the amount and frequency of allowance or other income. The plan for a 5-year-old would be very different from a 15-year-old's plan.

A spending plan is a simple guide to show where money comes from, where its going, and how to use it to reach goals. Making spending/saving plans with your children can help you decide how much allowance each child receives.

The plan is a tool to guide them in making decisions and choices. It helps teach the difference between wants and needs. Or in other words what is a 'gotta have' versus what is a 'nice to have'.

It's good financial modeling for children to observe their parents to putting together a spending/saving plan for the family, too. Share how the plan will help the family achieve goals and plus pay for the family needs and wants.

For more information on helping your child learn about money, visit the University of Minnesota Extension website at In the Family section, you'll find many resource to guide you in building your child's financial capability.

Sarah Croymans, Extension Educator —


No transcript

Sarah Croymans, Extension Educator —

April, 2011

Are you teaching your kids about personal finance issues?

I'm Becky Hagen-Joekala, Extension Educator in the area of Family Resource Management.

Maybe you think you don't have time or that children are unable to understand financial information at their age. However, you may be surprised to learn that as little as 10 hours of financial education can significantly increase children's understanding of money management and improve their financial behavior in the months following the education. The data is provided by the National Endowment for Financial Education's High School Financial Planning Program evaluations.

You don't have to wait until high school to teach children about money management. A number of personal financial education curricula identify children's books with topics related to money as providing an opportunity to teach young children about money management. Look around your home and you will probably see some well-loved children's books. You may find books that have messages about spending, saving, and using resources other than money, all of which can teach kids about money management. The University of Minnesota Extension Youth & Money website offers a number of suggestions about teaching children about personal finance through children's books. You can find the information at

Money Conversation Starters for Parents & Children (99 K PDF) — This family activity will help parents initiate some important conversations with children about money.

Children and Money: Teaching Children Money Habits for Life (176 K PDF) — How to teach children about money starting when they are young.

Children and Money: Allowance and Alternatives (263 K PDF) — Be consistent with children about earning, spending, sharing, saving, and borrowing money.

Promoting Financial Literacy

April is Financial Literacy Month! Use our display and promotional materials at your library, event table, etc.

April is Financial Literacy Month Bookmark (279 K PDF) — Ready to print bookmarks.

Children’s Literacy Display (246 K PDF) — Ready to print display pieces.

Children’s Literacy Poster (411 K PDF) — Ready to print poster.

Other Recommended Resources

Consumer Critter CrewTexas AgriLife Extension Service — Six lesson plans for teaching children about the value of money and how to be wise consumers.

Consumer SavvyNational 4-H — Youth spend $175 billion annually. Help them become informed and responsible consumers.

Financial FablesFederal Reserve Bank of Kansas City — Entertaining stories that combine economics and personal finance into life lessons that feature "money morals."

Financial Fitness For Life® — High-quality materials for use with students from grades K-12 presented in separate publications for four grade levels (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12). The overarching goal of the materials is to help students make thoughtful, well-informed decisions about important aspects of personal finance, including earning income, spending, saving, borrowing, investing, and managing money.

How to Raise a Money Smart Child: A Parent's GuideJump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy — Includes articles on budgeting, allowances, needs and wants, banking services, savings accounts, etc.

Money Sense for Your ChildrenUniversity of Nevada Cooperative Extension — This series covers topics like allowances, where money comes from, children and advertising, saving, and spending plans.

MN Jump$tart Coalition — The Minnesota Jump$tart Coalition list of 11 websites to assist parents in teaching and talking to their kids about financial literacy.

Money as You Grow — Recommended as an initiative of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability. The content on this site does not represent official policies of the United States Government or the United States Department of Treasury. The information and materials provided in this website are general in nature and are not to be considered the rendering of legal, tax, accounting, financial, investment, insurance or other professional advice.

Right on the MoneyPenn State Extension — Four-session educational program that uses reading to introduce children to key financial concepts. Provides parent with tools and information to both reinforce their own financial knowledge and help them positively influence their children’s future money management skills.

  • © 2015 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy