One of the most basic skills kids need to learn when they start their financial education is how to track money. Without the ability to do this, kids can’t go on to more challenging tasks, such as making and sticking to a budget or saving for a goal. Lots of different methods are out there for money tracking. Making your kid great at the task is just a matter of finding which technique is best suited to your child and his situation.
Here are some of the most common ways your child might be able to track money he receives or spends:
- Piggy banks or jars
Piggy banks or jars are great ways for younger kids to track money because they are a visual and tangible way for your child to see how much money he has. Even very young kids can grasp that they have gotten more money or used some up, based on the size of the piggy bank money pile. It allows them to count their treasure whenever they feel like it, and counting practice is never a bad thing. If you teach your child to count out the money in his bank every week or month, you’ll slowly get the idea of regular money monitoring across and help it feel natural. You can use as many banks or jars as you need to work with separate goals or “accounts.” There is no need to buy expensive banks, either. Ones from the dollar store work just fine, as do ones you and your child make together as a craft project.
- Charts and graphs
Charts and graphs are a good step to take after your child is comfortable working with real money. The reason it is a little more advanced is that, in marking the graph or chart, your chart is only representing money. It is not money itself, so it is more abstract tracking method. You still get to work with numbers, and the graphs and charts still let your child see his “money” visually. You can start with just one type of figure, such as a pie chart, and then move on to other types, such as a bar graph. Simple, one column bar graphs, often in the shape of thermometer, are good for monitoring savings in general or toward a specific goal. Consider erasable options such as a white board for the money groups where money might be subtracted. You also can have different magnets or stickers represent pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and various bills.
- Notebook or ledger
Like graphs and charts, using a notebook or ledger for money tracking is a more abstract method of tracking funds. The bonus here is that you get to focus more on math skills. These math skills can come in very handy for other money tasks such as balancing a checkbook, calculating interest, or figuring out how total gains and losses. Your child also can build a working history of his income and expenditures, which can give him insights about the general way he is handling his money and help with budget development.
- Mobile or regular apps and websites.
Many different websites, including Bankaroo, provide a great online option for kids to work with money. Don’t think you have to use this choice just with older kids, either. Even preschoolers can count “coins” and “bills” in a virtual account, and they’ll still be able to view charts and graphs on a screen just as well as on a piece of paper or board. Older kids can use websites and computer applications to do everything from checking allowance or chore earnings to looking at what’s in the joint bank account with you. If you use mobile apps, you can even track money with your child as you’re out and about, which can help your child not forget about a purchase he made. Some websites and apps even provide games related to money tracking and budgeting to help your child learn. The benefit of incorporating technology into money tracking is that your child will be very comfortable working with money through mobile devices and computers, which the majority of banks, businesses, and vendors are making their default mode of financial Oper.