This month, we’ve got money on our mind!  It’s never too early to instill responsible spending habits in your student.  And since money management requires both addition and subtraction, they’ll have the opportunity to test their math skills in a real-life, practical way.

It’s important to give your student guidance and freedom when it comes to spending their own money. Here are five tips for helping your student learn the value of saving and spending!

1. Visit the bank or open a savings account. The first step to introducing your kids to saving and spending is taking them to where it all happens—the bank! While many of us utilize mobile banking, our local banks are still helpful when we need a little guidance. Set up an appointment for you and your child to learn about how the bank plays a role in their saving and spending habits. When you feel they are ready, open a savings account for your child. Talk through how to deposit and withdraw money, how interest works, and how saving accounts are meant just for that—saving!

To help make the most of your outing at the bank, work through a couple of applicable money math problems prior to your visit.  Check out these activities and try them at home!

2. Keep a change jar & watch it grow. Got extra coins lying around? Create a change jar!  This creates a visual of what saving looks like over time.  Your student can take photos to track progress, feel how the jar gets heavier with additional coins, and keep a tally of how much they put in. Showing your student how the jar continues to fill up proves that patience and regular contribution pays off over time – no pun intended!

Another fun activity with a change jar? Let them play cashier! Set up a “store,” throw in some dollar bills, and get their brains working.  Practicing making change will put their math skills to the test in a very real way!

3. For a purchase over $30, make them wait 1 week before buying. We’re all guilty of buying something we really didn’t need. This exercise gets kids thinking about impulsive spending and the value of money.

Picture this:  Your child sees an awesome new toy at the store, but the price tag reads $40. They insist on using their allowance, but you’re not so sure. Establishing a one week waiting period gives your child a chance to think about why they want it and how they might prefer to use their money instead. Help them think through their options, such as buying two cheaper items or buying something for half the price and saving the rest for another day. They will learn how to be logical about spending money.

4. Create a monthly saving and spending worksheet. Plan it out, mark it up, and make it colorful! A monthly saving and spending worksheet is a math problem come to life. And making it fun and bright only makes it more interesting!

Each month print out a template for your child to decorate, and while they’re drawing, talk about what budgeting means for them.  Help them set weekly, monthly, or yearly goals for saving and spending, and help them plan accordingly using appropriate math equations.   Be sure to celebrate at the end of the week, month, or year as goals are met!

5. Create a “Savings Challenge.” Who can resist a challenge between siblings?  Turn saving into a competition to help teach a valuable lesson – just because we have it, doesn’t mean we have to spend it.  Encourage your kiddos to get creative about how to NOT spend for a greater goal – bragging rights!

Start each participant off with the same amount of money.   Whoever has the most money left after a series of “ spending” challenges earns a reward for being the most frugal.  Give the winner the option to pick their favorite meal for dinner, family game, or movie—all on you!