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Help your school-age child and preteen reach money milestones

Most people get their money habits and skills from their parents and caregivers. Here is some background in how children develop financially.

Skills and abilities to develop now for financial well-being later

Habits like planning ahead, saving up, and sticking to goals and values help children (and adults) achieve financial well-being in adulthood. According to Bureau research, financial well-being can be supported by habits such as decision shortcuts for navigating day-to-day financial life and effective routine money management.

Check out activities and conversation starters

At this age, your child can develop these skills:

  • Positive attitude about saving, being frugal, and self-control
  • Ability to plan ahead or save up for what she wants
  • Ability to make money choices that align with her own goals and values 
  • Self-confidence in starting an unfamiliar money task

Your child is also working on:

  • Planning ahead and waiting for what she wants 
  • Keeping future events in mind
  • Understanding basic financial processes and concepts, like banking and earning money
  • Successfully managing money, or other resources like time or belongings, to reach a goal

Behaviors to look for

Your child’s behavior might be on track when they:

  • Keep important things in a safe place
  • Make plans ahead of time
  • Keep track of assignments
  • Are dependable 

Your child might need your help when they:

  • Regret how he or she spent money, time, or other valuable resources
  • Let others down
  • Feel fearful of hard tasks 

Tips that can help

Keep in mind that you’re teaching about money, on purpose or not

Your children are constantly watching and listening, so they might absorb more than you think. When you shop for a bargain, or splurge on a treat, or plan a special occasion, you’re showing your kids how you think about money.

Don’t worry too much about things you don’t know

Don’t feel confident about money matters? You’re in good company. Most people don’t. And that’s okay. Every day, you excel at something your children need to learn—whether it’s managing your time between work and home, saving money when you shop, or planning for a future event.

Try this: Think out loud

From your actions, your children often draw their own conclusions—and sometimes they might not be what you intended! When you think out loud, you clarify what you’re doing and why. Try getting into the habit of thinking out loud during your day-to-day money and time management, so your kids can follow along.