21 Back To School Tips For Raising Money Savvy Kids At Each Educational Stage

Back To School Boys

Personal finance still isn’t a significant part of the curriculum in most schools. Even if it was, you’d want to remain involved. After all, discussions about money are also discussions about values.

Whether your kid is headed back to elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or even back to your guest room, here are 21 novel ideas for filling the financial education gap:

Elementary School

  1. Show kids the value of saving birthday checks now.
    If your kids could see how much birthday checks saved now could be worth in the Bank of Mom/Dad later, maybe they wouldn’t spend them so hastily. Try this chart.
  2. Reward kids with homemade Mom/Dad dollars.
    Paying for chores can be an expensive and questionable proposition — unless, of course, you’re printing your own money. Here’s how and why to do just that.
  3. Go hybrid when linking allowance to chores.
    You want your kids to make the connection between money and hard work. You also want your kids to pitch in for the common good without compensation. Here’s how to get the best of both worlds.
  4. Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel? Know your kid first. Pick the money strategy second.
    Applying a money habit building strategy to one kid for the sake of consistency with another seems like the fair thing to do, but it may not be. Here’s why.
  5. Teach kids the Rule of 72 for money doubling and impressing friends.
    Get kids talking about the fundamental math of investing with the magic rule of 72. Here’s how.

Middle School

  1. Perform a grocery audit with the kids.
    Help your kids appreciate everyday expenses, reduce unnecessary waste, and save money with this simple grocery audit exercise.
  2. Use the Premium Price Rule when paying for your kids.
    Focus your kid on value with the Premium Price Rule. Here’s how it works.
  3. Kick your kid’s expensive shiny object habit with a refurbished device.
    The sooner your kids learn they don’t need the latest, greatest shiny object, the shinier their financial futures will be. Try this.
  4. Charge teens for a share of the cell phone family plan.
    Do your kids have any idea how much monthly cell phone service costs? Will they still be on your family plan when they’re 35 years old? Here’s the first step to cutting that cord.
  5. Use teen purchase stats to set fast food boundaries.
    Like it or not, teen junkets to the local fast food joint are a classic teen rite of social passage. Use these purchase statistics to set reasonable boundaries.

High School

  1. Start the college affordability talk by the 9th grade.
    Putting off the awkward college affordability discussions with your teen? Senior year is too late to share your financial details with your high schooler. Here’s when to start. And how.
  2. Pay your teen to brown bag it for lunch.
    As kids get into the teen years, frugal habits like the brown bag lunch come under pressure. Here’s one way to make the brown bag lunch cool — or at least profitable — for your teen.
  3. Make teens ask for reimbursement instead of paying for expenses directly.
    Make teens active participants in the everyday expenses you’re picking up. That way, they’ll know — and appreciate — the real value of a dollar when the day comes for everything to be on their nickel.
  4. Show teens how accidents jack up auto insurance rates, fault or not!
    If it takes the fear of shelling out summer earnings for a massive insurance rate increase to keep your teen safe in the car, then so be it! Here’s a real example to scare your teen straight.
  5. Make teens pass the No Decline Prepaid Challenge before opening a checking account.
    Why throw your teen in the financial deep end with that first checking account? Here’s a simple way to wade in safely with a prepaid card and test those account balance managing skills first.


  1. Smooth out lumpy income to help teens save more, spend less.
    Here’s a simple system for transforming your teen’s lumpy income into moderate spending and more savings.
  2. Use a hybrid card strategy to help teens build credit and stay on budget.
    Credit cards build a credit history, but they don’t prevent debt. Prepaid cards prevent debt, but they don’t build a credit history. So which one is best for your older teen?
  3. Play the Sweep-To-Savings game with your teen.
    Sometimes teens spend money just because it’s there. Here’s an easy way to gamify frugal spending habits with your teen.
  4. Walk your teen through your FICO score before that first apartment.
    Don’t let your child’s first introduction to FICO be in an apartment rental office. Walk your teen through your real world FICO score well ahead of time. Here’s why.
  5. Use a water pitcher to explain credit card utilization.
    Understanding your credit utilization rate is essential to building your credit score. You can use a water pitcher analogy to explain best practices in credit card utilization. Here’s how.

After College

Now you can rest easy knowing your kid will hit (and even understand) at least one book this school year — the pocketbook.


Stefanie O'Connell aka The Blog Post Author

Love the mom and dad dollars idea. I never had an allowance, but I imagine it could get expensive for parents.

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Stefanie, thanks for stopping by. The original Mom/Dad dollar post is one of the all-time most popular posts on this blog :-)

As for allowance, it doesn't have to be expensive. If you use an allowance as a budget for "needs" that you would have bought for your child anyway, it can actually end up saving your family money - while giving your child practice managing money along the way. Win, win.

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