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Money Lessons Kids Need to Learn That Are Not Taught in School

By Edited Jul 13, 2016 2 4

Whether we like it or not, many things in this world are driven by money. Friendships can suffer when there is inequality in the amount that is earned, and families can be torn apart over parents giving one sibling gifts while ignoring the others.

How we live is based on what jobs we have and how much income is earned. While one person can stay at five star resorts, others visit economy motels for their respite from work.

For many of us, discussing money just did not happen-it was a taboo topic. It was uncouth to divulge how much you earned or how much you spent on something (unless of course, you were bragging). While schools do a less than adequate job education children beyond how to count change, there are many money lessons that we as parents need to teach our children if they are to succeed in life.

Here aremoney lessons that I have taught my children and ones that you will not find in any textbook.

Money Lesson 1 and 2-Don't Chip in on a Gift

And if you do, pay back with a check

Everybody has a different gift giving budget. While I have friends who think nothing of giving a twenty dollar gift to a child that their child is barely friends with, there are others who will try and get away with giving a gift as cheap as possible (even though they can afford to give more) to those whom they call "close friends".

I have always based my gift giving on my child’s relationship to the birthday child. If it is a life long buddy, then I give generously, if not, then I give a beautiful gift that fits my budget.

In my younger mothering years, it was customary for my group of friends to chip in twenty dollars and buy the birthday boy or girl one large gift. One time, two of the women almost ended their friendship over a present. One friend said she gave the money, the other insisted that she had not and she was owed the twenty dollars.

There were a lot of hard feelings over this, and my friend did fork over another twenty bucks. If you are going to participate in a group gift, pay the person collecting the money with a check. It is proof that you paid your fair share.

Don't Chip in on a Gift

Photo from Morguefile

Be In Charge of Buying the Gift

My older daughter had been very busy with school, youth group and work, so when a friend asked her if she wanted to chip in on a birthday gift, she was thrilled to not have to go out shopping to do it.

When the amount due was $23.00, my daughter was upset. You see, unlike her friends whose parents pay for these kinds of things, she has to pay for (most) of the gifts she gives her friends. She never would have spent this amount of money on this particular person. My daughter learned the hard way to discuss the amount spent on a group gift and not to go into such a situation blindly.

It is also okay to say no to a group gift if the amount being asked is over your budget.

A Book for Younger Children

Money Sense for Kids
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Everything from how money is printed to teaching children about interest is covered.

It's Part of Being a Parent to Teach Your Kids About Money

Money Lesson Number 3-Bring Change

When I was a teenager, I learned very quickly which of my friends were cheap and which were not. When we went out for ice cream after the movies or to the local Howard Johnson’s for a Friday fish fry, when it came time for the check, the same thing happened. Certain people were always a bit short and others had to cover. Or someone only had a twenty dollar bill, and somehow when people took their change from the pile of bills on the table, the pot of money never was quite right, so some of us added more so the waitress was not shortchanged on her tip.

When my daughter started going out with friends for meals, I made sure she had plenty of fives and singles, as well as change. That way, when the bill arrived, she had the exact amount that was due for her part of the bill, no more, no less.

It's Never too Soon to Teach Kids About Money

The Complete Guide to Personal Finance: For Teenagers
Amazon Price: $21.95 $14.49 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 11, 2016)
Teenagers and their money are easily parted. This book will help guide young adults on have to budget, save and invest.

More and Less-Money Lesson Number 4

I often tell my children when they ask for something that I am not willing to buy due to the cost that there will always be people with more than you and less than you.   They need to focus and be grateful on what they do have and if they want an object badly enough, they need to set goals for themselves and work on achieving them. 

Carry Emergency Money-Lesson 5

Financial gurus like Suzie Orman are alwys preaching for us to have an eight month emergency fund in case of a job loss or family illness.  I have taught my children that it is a good idea to always  have an "emergency $20".  This money is to be used in the event that you are caught short-like when my daughter lets her gas tank goes down to almost empty and she has only ten bucks in her wallet.

I keep emergency money in two different places in my pocketbook, as well as a few bucks in the glove compartment of my car.  I always have some cash when I need it.

If your teen is driving, sneak a ten or a twenty in the glove compartment for an emergency.

The Biggest Lesson of All-Make Them Make Your Kids Work for What They Want and Pay for It Themselves

My husband and I married  right after college and we had nothing brand new in our first apartment but a new television and bed.  Every other piece of furniture we owned was a family leftover.  Together we set goals and by the time we were twenty-five, we had built a brand new house, while many of our friends still lived at home.   Five years later, when that house no longer suited our needs, we built another bigger, brand new house for the family we were planning on having.

The thing is, our children never lived in a small apartment or a small house.  They only know the house they live in.  They have no idea the sacrifices and hard work involved so we could achieve our goal, the place we call home.

Make Kids Work for What They Want

Photo from Pixabay

In order for them to appreciate the larger items they covet, we make them use their own money for these purchases. Unlike many of their peers who are handed a brand new car, the latest iPhone or go on trips around the world, my children have to work for these things.  

I am proud to share that when my older daughter wanted to go to a five week, $5,000 summer program, she paid for it herself.  Between scholarships, holiday and birthday gifts, and having me sell her childhood treasures to the highest bidder on eBay, she learned that you can get what you want if you work hard for it.

I wonder if her friends who are handed everything on a silver platter will ever learn this concept.

These money lessons are not the ones that your children will learn in school.  It is your responsiblity as a parent to teach these to them.



Aug 19, 2013 6:03am
Really, considering how important money management is (like it or not), it's odd that it isn't taught in schools. If children were taught how to handle their money from a young age, maybe there wouldn't be so many adults around with crippling levels of debt.
Aug 25, 2013 5:52am
We need to teach life skills alongside computer skills. Handling money is a life skill! Too many kids see their parents buying and buying with credit and think that is the way of the world. We used cash when I was a child.
Aug 22, 2013 5:07am
This is an important article. I work on teaching my kids about the value of money and not squandering it. I don't think it should necessarily be taught in the schools, but definitely by parents to teach their children.
Aug 25, 2013 5:57am
Thank you for reading!

Money management should absolutely be taught in schools. Learning to balance a checkbook, how interest is compounded, and what happens to your credit score if you do not pay your bills is crucial for a person's success in the real world. I took chemistry in high school and have not used it since. Writing checks and balancing my accounts, that is a monthly chore that I will do for the rest of my life.
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