How Clueless is Your Teen About Handling Money?

piggy-bank-850607_1280Our kids learn many important and valuable skills in school, but how to budget and handle money is not one of them. Most kids today don’t have a good grasp of money and how to earn it, save it, and spend wisely. These lessons really reside with the parents, but it’s not always an easy topic to discuss and to get across to your kids. I found the idea in this article on Design Mom to be very creative and helpful! I think you’ll find it has some great ideas to help your family with this topic! Here is an excerpt from the article:

Suddenly, I had this moment of panic about teaching my kids to create a monthly budget. They earn money, and spend money, and save money, but at the time, I had never really talked them through a full monthly budget and what it’s like to live within one. I had this compelling I NEED TO TEACH THEM THIS RIGHT NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE feeling. Hah!

So I sat down at my laptop and came up with a game/challenge. It’s a rough-draft sort of thing, but it turns out they really enjoyed going through it. A year has passed, and we’re still talking about the budget game, and getting requests from the younger kids for their turn.

What’s the challenge? Essentially, it’s a game that takes about an hour to play, where they go through 12 months of budget, and each month they have new challenges thrown their way. The goal was to go through all 12 months of pretend budgets and end with a minimum amount in pretend savings, plus a certain number of pretend “Social/Mental Well-Being Points” (more on those in a bit). I created a Budget Worksheet to help us play, plus a sheet of “Banker’s Instructions” and an explanation of “Budget Options” (you can download all 3 below).

It’s a game designed to boost my teens’ awareness of consequences that come from money management (or mis-management), based on things that they value (like their favorite chocolate milk). What do I mean? I’ll explain. And I promise, it’s actually way more fun than it sounds. : )


First up, I set the scene:

They have moved out of the house and are earning $300 per month. In this imaginary world of the game, $300 is enough to create a workable budget. (I realize in reality $300 doesn’t cut it, but it’s a good round number to work with for the sake of this activity.)

Second, I explain there are 9 Budget Categories: 1) Savings, 2) Rent + Heat + Electricity + Internet, 3) Food, 4) Car + Gas + Insurance, 5) Cell Phone + Service, 6) Movies + Shows + Entertainment, 7) Eating Out + Coffee Shops, 8) Clothes, and 9) Miscellaneous. I want to note here: You may pick completely different categories for your particular kids. Maybe you wouldn’t include Eating Out or Clothes. Maybe you’d add in a video gaming category, or a category for medical costs. Maybe you’d replace the car category with a bike category. Think about what foods, and tech, and objects that your specific kids are into and customize the game to fit their motivational needs.

Each budget category has different rules that apply, so I go through the Budget Options sheet with them and they keep it handy for reference throughout the activity. This is where their eyes started to light up.

If you’d like to learn more of the details, including the Budget Options sheet, see the full article here on

Author: busydayparenting

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