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The holidays give you an opportunity to show your kids how money works

Parents and caregivers are the strongest influence on how children learn and think about money. Money lessons taught early in life can provide a lifetime of benefits. If you’re a parent or caregiver, it doesn’t take a lot of extra work to set your kids on a good path—even if you don’t feel like a financial expert yourself.

The holiday season provides a particularly good opportunity to reach kids with some basic money attitudes. Your children absorb what you say and what you do, so think out loud as you shop for gifts and buy food for holiday meals.

For example, try these activities with children between the ages of three to five years old:

  • Identify coins and their value. Ask your child to help you count the bills and coins when you pay with cash.
  • Point out essentials such as food and clothing, and ask your child to describe items she may want that are optional.
  • Talk about how your family decides what to buy and what to pass up. How do you compare products and prices?

When shopping with kids in grade 3 to middle school:

  • Think out loud as you pay—by credit card, debit card, cash, gift card, or mobile transfer—so your child hears how you think about spending and borrowing.
  • Call attention to special offers or promotions in stores, on television, or online, and talk about why these could be valuable—or troublesome, or distracting.
  • Demonstrate how you shop around and look for better features or prices, so your child sees it’s normal to ask questions and do research.

No matter how you handle your money, or how you feel about your financial situation, you can make a difference. We’ve assembled more ideas, tools, and online resources you can use with your children as they learn and grow. You don’t have to be a money expert to guide your children to a strong financial future.

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