Erin Lowry of Medium.com asked me for some of the best strategies to help kids become good at managing money. My top strategy? Make money lessons concrete so the abstract idea of money, like the concept of “save”, becomes a concrete experience to be expanded on.
Money is abstract – even more so for kids. So how do you make the abstract concrete? Make the money lesson touchable. About 20 years ago, in my oldest daughter’s first grade classroom, I made money choices concrete by taking 4 clear plastic cups and labeling them with “save”, “spend”, “donate” and “invest”. I hole-punched and then tied the labeled cups together with twist-ties so the money choices were now a set. So each time a child had money, they would consider all 4 choices!
Repeating this four-choice model with cups for larger groups is not easily done without getting carpal tunnel! So I invented a 4-chambered translucent piggy bank, the Money Savvy Pig, featuring these four choices (save, spend, donate, invest) with separate coin slots at the top for each money choice and unique openings on the bottom of each hoof of the bank. So why make it a see-through bank? Here’s my explanation from the article:
“It’s see-through, so you can see the visible accumulation of coins,” Beacham explains. “A kid will see that accumulation happen, and they’ll put that in a file in their head. When you talk to them about the idea of saving later on, as they begin to get older and grasp more abstract terms, they actually attach that visible lesson with the concept of saving. It makes them stronger savers because they understand it.”
There’s a bunch more good stuff in this piece. Here’s a link to the full article from with all the tips from Medium.com: “7 Strategies for Raising Kids to Be Good at Money” – Medium.com
So what childhood money memories do you have? Was there an “a-ha” moment or something visually that helped you understand one or more money concepts better?