It can be hard to know how to start teaching your child about money. How much info is too much? How do you make them realize that parents don’t have an endless money supply without making it seem like there’s never enough?  Despite the way money is a constant topic in the news and elsewhere, it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. There are plenty of ways to make the experience fun, so that kids will want to absorb the lessons. Plus, April is National Financial Literacy Month, so many institutions are pulling out all the stops to encourage kids to save and manage money.

“Instead of giving into pleas of ‘can I have this?’ in the checkout line,” says Joanne Sepich of the Credit Union National Association, “put your child on an allowance as early as age three, but let him or her decide how to spend the money.”

If you’d like to get your child started down the road to responsible money habits, check out these institutions or contact your local bank or credit union to see if they have programs supporting National Financial Literacy Month.

  • Banks like Wells Fargo in Los Angeles are taking part in the 15th Annual American Bankers’ Association Teach Children to Save Day on April 12 by visiting local area elementary, middle and high schools as well as community groups to talk about the importance of budgeting and saving money.   They also offer the “Hands on Banking®” website, a parent-tested, parent-approved program available for free.
  • Credit Unions like Cutting Edge Credit Union, located in Oregon and Idaho, have ongoing programs to help kids of all ages take more responsibility with money and eventually have access to checking accounts and small loans–with parental approval.  Unitus Community Credit Union in Oregon is hosting an open house for families on Saturday, April 23rd with fun and educational giveaways.  South Western Federal Credit Union of Southern California is embracing the “Money Rocks” theme for this year’s event by sponsoring a Guitar Hero Bundleprize drawing for all new account holders.
  • Private companies like Seattle-based Moonjar seek “to inspire and incorporate strong financial values and practices into everyday life.”  Moonjar’s line of products helps kids think about what money means to them and how to share, save or spend it. They make divided money boxes for those three purposes, and provide educational materials and conversation starters.

Have you had success with teaching your children about money? What suggestions do you have? Let us know in the comments below!

–Kali Sakai