Free Children’s Stories about Money

When you have children in your life, you want the best for them, and that includes building the financial skills they will need as adults. Even very young children can learn about money and build values and attitudes related to its use. In fact, they are learning from everything they observe – whether positive or negative. We, as the adults in their world, have the opportunity to provide experiences that contribute to positive learning – information, skills, and attitudes that will help them function effectively in our world.

Stories are a wonderful way to introduce concepts, start discussions, and trigger learning. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a set of five stories that introduce financial concepts including Saving, Careers, Borrowing, and more.  Each story is about 8-10 pages; they are available for free download as pdf documents, but they can ALSO be ordered (FREE!) in print – in batches of 25. That’s perfect for classroom teachers and child care providers, but even parents can order 25 copies of each story, and then make sets and give them away to their children’s friends. In addition to “plain” pdf and print versions, each story is available in .ePub format, with animations. Note: I confess I did not download an app for viewing .ePub files, so I cannot share details with you about those, but I have no doubt children would enjoy them!

The stories feature characters known as “money monsters,” who are “a group of creatures who are new to our universe. That means they need to learn about many important things like school, friendship, and financial literacy.” Each character has a name, including Foozil, Gibbins, and Oodle. The stories are probably most suitable for children ages 5-10.

On the “Money Monsters” home page, you’ll find a link to financial education activities – the CFPB has over 200 lesson plans for use in K-12 classrooms. In addition, there is a specific link to “storytime activities,” leading to the eleven lesson plans that connect to the Money Monsters stories. Even if you do not have a classroom, you might find some of these lesson plans interesting – they offer suggestions for how to follow up on the concepts in the story to help your child(ren) expand their learning and thinking.

One final note: if you order printed copies of the stories, you will notice that there are also Money Monster stickers and bookmarks! If you are a teacher or work with youth groups, browsing all the youth financial education publications might be of interest to you!

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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Your children are watching how you use money

Your children’s attitude toward money is shaped by nature (what they inherit from you) and also by nurture (what they pick up along the way).  Despite the heavy influence of their peers, there is a good chance they’ll be come a carbon copy of you.  So before you try to mold them, have a go at picturing yourself as they see you. Children get an education on financial life by watching and listening to their parents and older siblings.

Financial Management must be learned.

The most basic economic concept we all deal with is that resources are scarce.  We do not have enough resources to satisfy all our wants and needs.  Therefore, trade-offs and choices must be made.

Financial management must be practiced.

Much of our well-being is controlled by our habits.  Habits are choices, but they’re different than many other choices: usually they are choices we don’t pay much attention to, because they have become habits! 

To give your children a good example, you must look at the choices you make (including habitual choices); repeat the ones you like, and change the ones that do not help you reach your goals.

Financial management includes everyone in the household.

Parents and children need to communicate their needs, wants, and goals.  Individuals may have different values and these need to be shared in the household.  Talk out your concerns, and listen to the needs of others. The group can make decisions that reflect the interests of each individual.

Financial management is not easy!

Unlike a cookbook where there is a recipe to follow, financial management is very unique to each family or household. Remember each one has values and goals that blend to create the total picture.  For financial management to work, it needs to be the family’s or household’s plan.

Susan

Susan Taylor

Resources are important whether you are looking to rent your first apartment, pay your bills, buy your first home or send your child to college. There are many ways to save money to reach your goals, and hopefully ISU Money Tip$ will be one of them. I enjoy traveling, needlework and am a novice gardener.

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Money As You Grow

Twenty things kids need to know to live financially smart lives:  sounds good!  Should we start with preschoolers? Preschoolers want to buy things. As they get older, they want to earn money too. Early elementary children want to make spending choices, compare prices, and save their money in safe spots too. Have you been looking for ways to inform your children about money?

Money as You Grow breaks down kids’ money learning into age groups:  3-5; 6-10; 11-13; 14-18 and 18+.   For each age group, the site provides four key financial concepts and some real-life activities to help kids learn.  The site is written in down-to-earth language for children and their families. It was developed by President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability.

This web site touches on twenty things kids needs to know to live financially smart lives. The activities can be found at http://moneyasyougrow.org/#

-Susan

Susan Taylor

Resources are important whether you are looking to rent your first apartment, pay your bills, buy your first home or send your child to college. There are many ways to save money to reach your goals, and hopefully ISU Money Tip$ will be one of them. I enjoy traveling, needlework and am a novice gardener.

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Children’s Allowance is a Teaching Tool

I’m a big fan of allowances – my children started receiving allowances at a young age.   The specific reason was unique to my personal situation – after I got divorced, I wanted the kids to have their own money to buy birthday/holiday gifts for me and for their dad.  (In other words, I didn’t want him to give them money to buy me a gift, or vice versa).   The youngest was just 4, and in retrospect, I’d say that was a little young – it took a year or two before she really caught on.  But the early start did no harm, and both of my children learned to think carefully about spending because they had money to practice with.

That idea of practice is the key to why most experts recommend allowances for children.  We don’t put young adults behind the wheel of a car without plenty of supervised practice first.  Likewise, it’s not realistic to expect young adults to make smart financial choices unless they have had plenty of practice managing money.  Managing an allowance helps children build essential skills: thinking about priorities; planning ahead; and recognizing the benefits of saving.

How did we handle allowances at my house? Each child had 4 envelopes:  Save, Church, Gifts, and Spend.  There were rules about how much of their base allowance should go in the first three envelopes (the specific amount changed over time as their allowances increased).  The “Save” envelope was designated to their bank account for college savings; if they wanted to save money for a special toy or book, we would create an extra envelope for that goal.

Looking back, I can say our system worked well.  It wasn’t perfect, mainly because I had a lot of trouble remembering to have the right kind of cash on hand – or any cash at all. For my sake, therefore, we shifted to a monthly allowance instead of a weekly allowance.  For young children I think a weekly allowance is better, but I just couldn’t keep the cash coming on schedule.  (It took lots of one-dollar bills to divide the allowances into the right envelopes.)

Why am I glad I started giving them an allowance? Naturally, I’m very pleased that they have learned to take money seriously and to think ahead.  That’s the BIG benefit.  And I loved the gifts they bought for me (and also for their dad) – I liked seeing them work together to seek out thoughtful inexpensive things (they had only small amounts of money to work with).  One memorable gift was a tube of lotion chosen because the label/logo included the Norwegian flag; another was a pair of wool socks (“I knew they would be good, because they’re wool,” she said at age 6).

But my very favorite part about my children having an allowance? When I could say to them:  “That’s not something I’m going to spend my money on, but you can spend your money on it if you want to.”

– Barb

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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