Counting Coins

Young mother teaching her daughter about money managementWant your child to learn the difference between the various coins we use and the value of each? This activity is a great way for children to discover the differences between various coins and learn that different coins have different values.

What You’ll Need:

  • A pile of mixed coins making sure to have at least one of each type
  • Paper
  • Pencils (colored or regular) OR clay
  • Animals crackers or other “store items”

Learning Activity:

  1. Have the children separate coins into like piles by type, all the pennies in one pile, all the nickels in another, etc. Have them count the number of coins in each. If the kids are older, have them total up the amount of all the coins.
  2. Have the kids select one or two coins and do a coin rubbing by taking a sheet of white paper and placing the coin beneath it. Using a colored pencil or regular pencil, lay the lead flat against the paper on top of the coin and have the child rub it until the image of the coin appears. You may also use clay and mold it around each coin. Discuss the difference between the coins asking some of the following questions:
    1. What color is the coin?
    2. Does it have a rough edge?
    3. Which coin is largest or smallest?
    4. What do you see on the coins (presidents, buildings, trees)?
  3. Give the child five pennies and one nickel. Have the child “buy” five animal crackers together with the nickel and then singly with a penny each. Set up other play store opportunities at home where children can buy different items using different coins.

Other Money Teaching Ideas:

  • Visit the store and give the child 50 cents or a dollar and let the child purchase an item.
  • When shopping with your child, have them count items as they are put into the cart to understand how much money is needed for all of them.
  • Save money in clear containers so kids can see it increasing.
  • Conduct a treasure hunt for coins in a room at home. Sort into like piles and count.
  • Read a book!

The Coin Counting Book

The Coin Counting Book by Rozanne Lanczak Williams is a unique book that offers the kids the opportunity to see the coins in detail and to appreciate their value. This book is a good way to introduce simple math to children.

My First Book of Money: Counting Coins

 

 

My First Book of Money: Counting Coins from Kumon Publishing is a great book if your child can add numbers up to 100, and is familiar with the concept of money. This workbook will build on that foundation and is a fun and easy introduction to coins and their value, which will help strengthen your child’s mathematical skills.

 

 

What are your tips for teaching children about money at school or at home? Let us know what you do by leaving us a comment below or tweeting us at @UNLExtensionTLC!

Leanne Manning, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

(This post has been used with permission and adapted from a previous publication of this article by Leanne Manning from Nebraska Extension IANR)

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Can Allowances Be A Teaching Tool?

Family teaching little girl about money

Why Consider An Allowance?

  • Children learn about receiving a fixed income and they can begin to make decisions about how to use it.
  • Children receiving allowances may learn to set financial goals.
  • Children experience and learn the results of poor money management.

When Is The Best Age To Start Giving An Allowance?

Many parents wonder this! The answer is that is really depends on the child. An allowance can be started as soon as a child grasps how money works (i.e., that we use money to buy the things we want and need.) Some experts say children as young as age 4 or 5 can be ready to learn how to use money and can be started on an allowance. Others say 6 or 7 may be a better age. Children with older siblings usually are ready for an allowance at an earlier age than only or first-born children.

Allowances and Chores

Many financial experts agree that it is important to keep the idea of an allowance separate from being paid for doing chores. Children have responsibilities within their families which they should fulfill without expecting to be paid for completing them. Paying children for chores also encourages the attitude that everything has a price and they should get paid for what they do. Chores are a part of belonging to a family.

To see how paying for chores can get out of hand, let’s suppose Maria makes her bed only four days out of seven. Do you pay her the usual weekly allowance? If her allowance depends upon chores being completed, someone has to keep track of what’s done and decide upon a pay scale. What if Maria decides one week she doesn’t need any money, so she doesn’t do any work? An allowance usually includes money to buy certain items as agreed to by the parent and the child.

Children Should Decide How They Use Their Allowance

Here are some suggestions for what children might be expected to purchase using their allowances at different ages:

  • Under age 6: candy, gum, ice cream, small toys, gifts for others, books, paints, crayons.
  • 6-9 years old: in addition to the above, movies, amusements, lunch at school, magazines, gifts for birthdays and holidays, contributions, club or activity dues, Little girl receiving an allowancehobbies, special sports equipment, school expenses.
  • 9-12 years old: in addition to the above, fees for activities such as swimming or skating, some school supplies or trips, some clothing, and upkeep of items like sports equipment.
  • 13-18 years old: all of those mentioned previously plus money for dates, grooming, cosmetics, jewelry, school activities, travel and savings for college. The needs and wants of teenagers rapidly outgrow the family’s ability to pay for everything. So the opportunity for earning money outside the family becomes essential.

In addition to the needs of the child, the actual amount of an allowance should fit with the family’s financial situation. The lower the family’s income or the more people in the household, the smaller the amount of each child’s allowance compared to families with higher income and/or fewer family members.

How Much Should Be Paid As An Allowance?

Consider family income and financial commitments, the age and ability of the child to manage the money, what the child’s friends receive as an allowance, and the cost of items the allowance will cover. The allowance amount should be enough to cover specified items with a little extra for saving and some for fun spending. Yet it also needs to be small enough that it forces the child to make financial decisions. Develop a trial amount by keeping track of the child’s purchases for a month or two. Then track what happens with the allowance for a couple of months to see how it works. Change the amount of the allowance only when really necessary like when the family’s income drops or a child’s expenses go up. Build-in regular increases such as on birthdays or at the beginning of a school year. Decide the amount of the increase by checking with other parents or look online or in publications at the local library.

Tips

Check with the parents of a child’s friends. What amount do the friends get as an allowance? Giving him either much more or much less than what friends receive may create problems for him.

Sit down and discuss expectations with the child before an allowance is started. Establish what allowance is to pay for and any limitations on what can be bought. For example, what limits are there on the amount of candy they can buy? Will you say “no” to certain movies they buy or go see? If her bike tire needs replacing, will you help out or will she be expected to pay for the repair with her allowance?

Pay an allowance on the same day each week. The child should not have to remind or beg for an allowance to be paid. Paying at the beginning or middle of the week may help younger children learn to stretch their money until the next allowance is paid. Do not rescue a child when he runs out of money. He needs to learn there are consequences for not spending wisely. He might not get to go to the movies with friends if he’s spent all his money early in the week. If she asks for more money for what the parent thinks is a worthy cause, consider giving her a chance to earn it by doing one of those special jobs like cleaning out the attic.

Paying the allowance with various kinds of coins or bills may help younger children learn the value of each coin or bill. It also makes it easier to divide the allowance into spending, saving, and sharing amounts according to a previously-set money plan.

An allowance basically is money that would be spent on a child anyway, just given in a different form. Instead of paying for things at the time when he wants them, parents pay him an allowance and let him decide how to spend the money. The goal of an allowance is to teach children to distinguish between wants and needs and to prioritize and save — difficult lessons that will pay off throughout life.

 

How do you use allowances in your family? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @UNLExtensionTLC.

Leanne Manning, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

(This article was originally published as a NebGuide by Manning. It is re-published her with permission).

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

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16 Tips For Cutting Family Food Expenses

Cutting food expensesDoes your lettuce turn to mush? Mushrooms start to grow fuzzy? Do your bananas blacken before your family can eat them? In the US, the average family of four, loses $1,500 each year to food it has to throw out. This is like tossing one bag out of every four purchased at the grocery store.

Food is a necessary expense but there are ways to save money. Check out these tips!

1. Use a Grocery List

Keep a grocery list where it’s easily accessible, such as on Use a grocery listthe fridge, and take it with you to the grocery store. Always shop with a list. Stick to your list for added savings, but do stay flexible if you encounter a sale. Gas for an extra trip to the store easily can add a dollar or more to your grocery bill. And the less you shop, the less likely you’ll buy something on impulse.

Examples:

  • Gas to drive four miles for an extra trip to the store: $1.00 (or more!)
  • Impulse purchase of snack crackers at the store: An additional $2.50 spent.

2. Garbage Check

We lose money whenever we toss food because it spoiled before we got around to eating it. If leftovers get the “heave-ho” because they’re left too long, we’re putting money in the garbage can. Plan to avoid tossing foods.

Consider: If wilted lettuce frequently goes in your garbage can, serve more salads at the beginning of the week. If extra mashed potatoes get tossed because they’ve lingered too long in the fridge, make less next time. Some other ideas: Use ripe bananas in banana bread; add juice to smoothies or make popsicles; freeze leftovers for another meal.

Example:

  • Tossing a half bag of “tired” lettuce: $1.00.

3. Avoid Shopping When Hungry

Everything looks good on an empty stomach. And it’s all too easy to buy something to tide us over in the car until we make it home. Eating before going shopping not only helps forestall impulse buys, it may save calories. If you’re shopping with your kids, feed them in advance as well.

Example:

  • Buying an energy bar at the grocery store to tide you over until you get home: $1.50 more spent.

4. Brown Bag It

If you normally eat out at noon, consider brown-bagging it at least one day a week. The typical fast-food meal out easily can cost $5.00 or more. Take food left over from an Brown bag it and bring your own lunchevening meal to work the next day. A peanut butter sandwich and a piece of whole fruit can be quickly packed from foods on hand.

Note: You may save money on your children’s lunch by having them participate in the school lunch program. They can eat a balanced meal that is offered at a reasonable price.

Examples:

  • Eating a sack lunch once a week: Save $2.50 (or more!)
  • Eating a sack lunch five days a week: Save $12.50 (or more!)

5. Coupon Common Sense

Use coupons only for foods you normally would eat, rather than for “extras.” Don’t miss out on potential sources of valuable coupons. Check your grocery receipt — sometimes there are great coupons on the back that help save money. Also, if you have access to a computer, check online for coupons. For starters, check the Web site of the store coupon common sensewhere you shop or for products you use.

Often the Web site address for many foods is given on the product label.

If possible, shop on double- or triple-coupon days when a store increases the value of coupons. Grocery store loyalty cards may be another source of savings, offering in-store discounts to cardholders.

Examples:

  • Not buying that NEW dessert mix just because you have a coupon: Save $2.00.
  • Using two 50-cent coupons for items you do use: Save $1.00.

Check expiration dates6. Check Expiration Dates

Avoid buying a food that is past its prime. If it’s on sale and near its expiration date, use it soon.

Example:

  • Avoid dumping a half gallon of soured milk down the drain: Save $2.50.

7. Small-Scale Experiments

When trying a new food, buy the smallest size package. If your family doesn’t like the new food, you won’t be stuck with a big quantity.

Example:

  • Buy a small amount of an exotic spice until you discover if your family will eat it in the new recipe: Save $1.50.

8. Costly Convenience Foods

How much time do you really save when you buy a convenience food? It takes just a fewPre-cut vegetables seconds to mix your own sugar and cinnamon rather than buying it pre-mixed.
Microwaving a bowl of regular oatmeal rather than pouring hot water over the contents of a pre-measured package adds only a few minutes.

You’re likely to save by cutting fruits and veggies yourself. Plus, the precut ones won’t keep as long!

Example:

  • Buying one carton of old-fashioned or quick oatmeal that provides 30 servings vs. buying three boxes of instant oatmeal that contain 10 packets each: Save $5.50.

9. Staple Food Stock Up

Invest in staple foods when they’re on sale. Buying a boatload of bananas (or other perishable foods) isn’t a very good long-term investment. Stocking up on staple items such as reduced-price canned tuna or tomato sauce might be. Remember to check expiration dates.

Example:

  • Stocking up on 10 cans of tuna reduced by 20 cents apiece: Save $2.00.

10. Bulking Up When the Price Is Right and You Can Use It

Bulk of orangesFirst, do the math and check to see if you actually do save by buying a larger package.
The cost of two foods of a smaller size may be a better price than the larger one. Plus, will you
use the food while it is still tasty? Always check it out and if the larger size meets your criteria, go for it!

Example:

  • Buying a 5-pound bag of rice instead of a 1-pound bag: Save $1.50.

11. Store Brand Savings

Store brands are comparable in nutrition to name brands. And taste-wise there may be Store brand Mountain Dewlittle difference. In some comparisons, they have been preferred over the name brands.
Some store brands may vary more in size, color, or texture than the name brands. However this may be unimportant, depending on their use. A less-than-perfect-appearing vegetable may be just fine if used in a casserole or soup.

Don’t shop just at eye level. Store brands and lower-priced brands tend to be positioned on the top and bottom shelves. The national brands are more likely to be on the middle shelves.

Example:

  • Buying just two store brands and saving 50 cents on each: Save $1.00.

12. Prevent Food Flops

Check preparation methods for unfamiliar foods. A tropical fruit may look enticing at the store, but if you’re not sure how to prepare it or where to find more information once you bring it home, think again. Or that new cut of meat — do you slowly roast it or can it be grilled? Either way, find out or risk having a food flop.

Often the produce person or the meat manager at the store can give you some tips. Many produce departments have books with descriptions of all items, what they taste like, how to prepare them, etc.

Example:

  • Purchasing a bag of self-rising flour without first reading the recipe’s directions and discovering it won’t work: Lose $2.50.

13. Beware of Snack Attacks

Unless you’re fairly active and need the calories, limit snacks such as chips, cookies, Junk foodcandy, etc. You’ll save money and may lose unwanted pounds at the same time.

Example:

  • Buying one less bag of chips weekly: Save $2.00.

14. Shop the Specials

Plan your menus around sale items, especially more expensive purchases, such as meat. Buying several packages of meat on sale and freezing them may save quite a bit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that it is safe to freeze meat or poultry in its supermarket wrapping but this type of wrap is permeable to air. So, unless you plan to use them within a month or so, overwrap packages of meat for long-term storage using airtight heavy-duty foil, freezer plastic wrap or freezer paper, or put the packages of meat inside freezer plastic bags. Use these materials to repackage family packs of meat into smaller amounts.

While raw ground meat maintains optimum quality in the freezer for 3 to 4 months, larger cuts of meat like steaks or chops will maintain optimum quality for 4 to 12 months. At 0o F, frozen food remains safe indefinitely. The safest way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator on a plate on the bottom shelf so it doesn’t drip on other foods.

Example:

  • Buying meat on sale: Save $2.00.

15. Think Before You Drink

re-usable water bottlesBuy a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Your investment soon will pay for itself. Limit consumption of soft drinks and fancy coffees. And if you do buy drinks occasionally, try to buy returnable bottles.

Example:

  • Drinking tap water vs. buying a 12-pack of bottled water: Save $4.00.

16. “Check-out” Temptation

As you wait in line, think twice about buying some last minute temptation at the check-out counter.

Example:

  • Resist that magazine: Save $3.50.

Grand Total

The more of these tips you use and the more foods you use with them, the family cutting expensesmore you save.

Case in point: If you were able to use each of the preceding examples in one shopping trip, you could save as much as $40 that week.

Multiply that by 52 weeks and the savings would be… over $2,000 yearly!

Note: Prices in this NebGuide were rounded to the nearest 50 cents and may vary by store and location.

Alice C. Henneman, Extension Educator, Nancy G. Frecks, Extension Educator, and Kathy Prochaska-Cue, Extension Family Economist 

(This article was originally published by the authors as a NebGuide. It is re-published here with their permission.)

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How Children Learn About Money

CVvs5k_VEAA1qIS.jpgResearch has shown children learn the most about money from their parents. They watch parents spend or save money every day (observation). They also hear their parents talk about money either directly or indirectly (talking it over). And children learn about money by using it themselves (learning by doing).

Observation

Children see what their parents and other adults do with money and they start to understand how their parents feel about it. In turn, this influences how children feel about money. Do parents spend all their money before it’s earned? If so, this may make it hard to teach children about limited resources, planning for spending, and the value of saving. Or do parents save every cent they earn? This attitude may make it hard for children to see that money is a tool, not a goal in and of itself, and can make it difficult for children to spend even for necessities.

Talking It Over

It is important to discuss the family’s financial situation with children at a level appropriate for their age. Encourage children to participate in family financial discussions. Communicate about money one-on-one as the opportunity comes up. For example, daughter wants to buy a digital camera. Her parents tell her they can’t afford it. Then the next week, the parents buy a new vehicle. What does daughter think? Help her understand why it is important to have the vehicle to drive to work and why that need must come before buying her a camera.

When talking about money and saving with children, encourage them to set goals that can realistically be reached in the near future. Saving money for that new camera is more realistic than saving for retirement at the young daughter’s age since retirement is so far in the future. Remember kids live in the present.

Also, be reassuring when talking to children about money. If they discover the house they live in is not completely paid for, they may worry. Assure them the family is able to make the monthly payments and they will not be out in the street by morning.

Learning by Doing

Ideas for actual activities to be done with children to help them learn about using money are described below. Choose activities that are appropriate for the child’s age and current interest:

Play Store

Use play money and “price” a variety of items to help children practice using money.

“Piggy” Banks

Make three banks from jars, boxes or other containers. One bank would be for money to share, a second for cash to spend, and a third for savings.

Make A Savings Plan

Develop a simple savings plan for something they wish to buy. Create a storybook with younger children. Ask them to draw a picture of something they want to buy. On the next page ask them to draw the amount of money they think it will take to buy the item. On the third page have them draw how they are going to find the money they need (either earn it or save it). On the final page have them draw something that shows when they actually will be able to buy the item they want.

Shop Together

Comparison-shop together for an item they want to buy or for a major item for the family.

Cash Transactions

Allow children to make simple cash transactions at the store. Talk about the experience after they are done.

Family’s Money Heritage

With extended family such as grandparents or aunts and uncles, discuss the family’s money heritage using questions like the ones below.

  •  

    Were ancestors poor, rich, landowners, laborers, teachers, entrepreneurs, etc?

  • What kind of house did they live in? What other possessions did they have?
  • What kind of gifts did they give for birthdays, holidays, etc?
  • What did they do for entertainment and how much did it cost?
  • What kind of transportation did they use?
  • Are there any stories of times when they gained or lost money? How did they cope?

Values Game

Play a values clarification game. Place the sign “Agree” on one wall and the sign “Disagree” on another wall.

Read the following statements to children and ask them to move closer to the sign they feel represents what they value for each statement. After they move, ask them to explain the choice they made.

  • Everyone should have a checking account.
  • ATM or debit cards are not safe to use.
  • It is not safe to buy things on the Internet.
  • Using credit cards only leads to deeper debt.
  • Credit cards are a connivence.
  • All children should receive allowances.
  • Only older children should receive allowances.
  • Everyone should own their own home.
  • Only married people should own a home.
  • Only a family should own a home.
  • Having a nice car is the most important thing for a teenager.
  • Teenagers should pay all expenses if they have a vehicle.
  • We should all plan the next family vacation.
  • Only parents should plan family vacations.

Have A Money Discussion With Children

Ask them what the following figures of speech mean:

  • Saving for a rainy day
  • Nest egg
  • Do you think I’m made of money?
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • It is better to give than to receive.
  • The love of money is the root of all evil.
  • Don’t spend it all in one place.
  • Easy come, easy go.
Leanne M. Manning, Extension Educator, Carla J. Mahar, Extension Educator, and  Kathy Prochaska-Cue, Extension Family Economist

(This article was originally published by Manning, Mahar, and Prochaska-Cue in a NebGuide. It is re-published here with permission.)

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