Ways to DO, SAVE, & LEARN This Winter
December 20, 2023
A new year is here, offering a fresh perspective on learning & saving! Parents will soon be gathering their documents for tax season, new budgets are being made, and the 2024 financials are being considered. But kids have a lot on their minds too! Many children have likely received monetary gifts over the holidays and may have big dreams for how to use their newfound “riches.” As we kick off a new year, now is the perfect time to strategize how to DO, SAVE, and LEARN with your kiddo each month. Keeping this ethos in mind as you embark on a fresh trip around the sun can help ensure you’re having regular financial discussions with your child, planning simple activities to keep them engaged, and including them in family conversations.
You don’t have to do all the work, though – we’re here to help. Below, we’re sharing ideas for how you can DO, SAVE, and LEARN in the new year!
DO: Bake together
Baking is a great way for kids to learn about science and math in a real-world capacity – it’s tasty too! By participating in baking and cooking age-appropriate recipes, your child can learn about chemical reactions (like the difference between baking soda and baking powder and the importance of salt), flavor pairing, and measuring.
If you have a young child who is learning to read, have them help by picking out a recipe and having them read the recipe with you. Depending on their age, they can help measure, mix, and stir, too! Older kids can be more hands on – and middle schoolers may be interested in taking on a meal each week to help prepare.
SAVE: Holiday Earnings
If your child received any monetary gifts for the holidays or if they receive an allowance, setting aside time in January to review (or make) a budget with them can be a great way to teach them about saving, spending, and giving. The ⅓ + ⅓ + ⅓ ratio can be helpful here but splitting their earnings or gifts into thirds that they save, spend, and give to charity. If they don’t already have their own bank account, most banks will allow kids to open their own account with the help of a parent. Additionally, this is a great opportunity to teach them about intertest!
Kids’ Money is an interactive resource for parents, teachers, and kids designed to help children develop successful money management habits and become financially responsible adults.
The Preschool Children’s Understanding of Money fact sheet has ideas and activities you can employ on how to improve how your child understands money via The Texas A&M University System.
Mint is an all-in-one financing app containing resources to help parents tackle personal finance with their kids, an important life skill. Raising financially-savvy children involves teaching them a variety of aspects from budgeting to planning, earning, and saving.
LEARN: Tax Time
Tax time can be a stressful time for adults, but talking with children early about taxes and what they do can help break the cycle of stress and prepare them for the future. You don’t need to get too involved, but allowing them to see the process and answering their questions when they come up can shed a light on what taxes are and how and why they’re done. Check out this link from Kids’ Money, which offers simple ways of explaining taxes to kids!
DO: A Valentine to Me
February is a time for showing love – to our friends, family, and ourselves! For February, sit down with your child and write “Valentines” to yourselves with your goals for the future. What do you hope to achieve in the next 11 months? Where would you like to go? What challenges are you willing to set for yourself in order to become the best version of yourself? Writing a love letter to your future self can be a great exercise in envisioning a bright future and working towards it! Need some help? We have lots of goal-setting activities on our blog! Scroll through and print some out – they’re fun for kids and adults.
SAVE: Explore Ways of Giving
Giving – through action or monetary gift – is an important part of life. Studies show that volunteering and donating time and/or money benefits not only the recipient, but brings a greater sense of community and happiness to the participant, too. And there are so many ways to give! Like we discussed in January, your child could give a portion of their allowance, or they can donate their time and talents. Do you have a child who loves animals? They could hold a pet food drive or volunteer to walk dogs or spend time with cats. Does your tween care deeply for the environment? They could choose a charity to donate funds to or volunteer on the weekends to clean beaches and plant trees. Spend some time brainstorming ways to give with your child and then make a plan to give back.
LEARN: Explore MyPlan
It’s never too early to start dreaming of the future! Our Aspirations Toolkit offers a variety of activities to help inspire those dreams, no matter the age of your child – starting with MyPlan. MyPlan was created to make creating an education savings plan for your child easy and stress-free. It includes activities to do together with your child, what-if scenarios, and even features a quick-start guide to get you on the road to savings fast. Tap here to learn more!
DO: Cook & Eat Together
We know, taking the time to gather as a family can be difficult between school schedules, work schedules, and everything in between. But making the effort to eat together as a family without distractions at least once per week can have enormous benefits for kids (and adults), including higher self-esteem, better academic performance, and greater resilience (to name just a few). Take the lessons you learned together when baking, and set aside time to cook a meal and enjoy it together. Along with reaping the rewards of togetherness, your child will also learn about time management and organization through cooking, setting the table, and timing the length it takes to make the meal.
Visit the Family Dinner Project for ideas on what to cook and for further reading.
SAVE: Budget Review
Now that you’re in the 3rd month of the year, it’s a great time to review the family budget and any goals your child may have set in January. Sit down to review the numbers together. Celebrate the wins, and calmly discuss any areas that could use improvement. Allowing your child insight into the family budget can help them better understand how money works and the important difference between wants and needs. Be sure to include how you’re setting aside funds for their future education – knowing their parents and guardians are thinking of their future success can be a huge source of confidence!
For more reading, visit our Parents’ Guide to Planning & Saving.
LEARN: Compare Prices
Does your child groan at the thought of running errands? Put them to work! (in a fun way, of course). While you’re doing the grocery shopping, have your child help by comparing prices and finding the best deal. In the produce section, they can assist by weighing out fruits and vegetables. Show them store brands vs. name brands and discuss the different prices and unit costs. Maine SNAP-Ed offers great resources when it comes to grocery shopping, including an easy primer on the difference between unit cost and total price: https://www.mainesnap-ed.org/shop/save-money-at-the-supermarket/
For more ideas on how to incorporate conversations about money, saving, and spending into everyday life, visit our Age-Based Resources page!