Easy Ways to Teach Your Preteen About Money

As kids grow up, they become curious about money and what it can buy. Teaching your preteen some spending smarts can actually reduce your financial stress later. Follow these suggestions at home and around town.

Dollars and coins

At Home

  • Clothes can be more affordable depending on when they are purchased. Buying clothes at the end of the season or out of season will be more affordable than buying them at the beginning of the season. Deals can be found online as well.
  • Kids' feet grow fast – don't spend too much on dress shoes or fancy sneakers.
  • Preteens think a lot about what's cool. Teach them about the traps of clever marketing and advertising. Look at magazine ads and TV commercials together and point out what's real and what's not. Ask what they think was done to make the product look cooler, what emotions they feel when they look at the ad, and explain that companies pay for advertising so their product looks appealing to us.
  • When buying items like computers, smartphones or tablets for your preteen, do it over special occasions, like birthdays or holidays.
  • Teach your child how to track their spending.
  • Talk about fees for overdrafting, using check cashing services and high interest loans (e.g. title loans).

For School

  • Have your preteen try on all their school clothes once a year. Donate the things that don't fit.
  • Wait to get the school supplies list from the teacher before you buy anything new. Reuse scissors, rulers and other durable items from previous years.
  • Make regular payments to or start a college fund for your preteen.

While Out and About

  • Talk about smart shopping with your preteen. Point out what is important to buy and when: cheap, high-quality, brand name, generic, eco-friendly.
  • Discuss the difference between needs and wants – and practice what you preach.
  • Explain the difference between debit and credit cards - how you use them, what happens if you don't pay on time, etc.
  • When possible, avoid bringing younger children with you on shopping trips. You can lose track of what you're buying if you're distracted.

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