Making chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast, playing outside in the snow, having a family movie night with popcorn—there are tons of fun activities you can do together this Family Day. But how about setting time aside to teach your kids some oh-so-valuable personal finance lessons? Here are some creative and interactive ways to teach them all about money management without having them run as fast as possible in the other direction. 

Why investing our time in personal finance lessons is a smart idea

Children as young as three can grasp basic financial concepts like spending, and kids’ money habits are formed by age seven (as revealed by a study out of the University of Cambridge).  So, it’s critical we teach kids about money sooner rather than later. And it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. A 2019 study about financial well-being conducted by the Government of Canada showed that financial confidence is linked to positive financial outcomes. And isn’t that the goal?

Personal finance education starts at home 

Read on to learn age-appropriate ways to teach your kids everything from budgeting to credit card debt to RESP planning.

Ages 3 to 5: It’s all about spending and saving, and they can learn through play

Your child’s financial education starts here. At this age, the point you want to get across is this: things cost money, and you need to save money before you can get what you want. The best way to do this is with physical money—bills and coins—since the concepts of credit and debit aren’t tangible enough for them to grasp right now. One fun activity is to play store with them using real money and real things. Gather up some items around the kitchen (think canned soup, fruit, and paper towel) and create a store, where each item has a value and they have a set amount of money to spend. This is a playful way to teach them the basics around how commerce works.

Another simple but fun way to introduce them to the concept of money is to take out coins and teach them how they can add up to a value. For example, show them that four quarters is the same as a dollar or show them how many coins it takes to buy a $1.25 toy at the variety store. 

Ages 6 to 10: Let’s talk choices, and a board game that’s anything but boring

It’s time to focus on financial decision-making. At this age, children can grasp concepts like, “my parents work to make money,” and “different things cost different amounts.” This is a great time to get them to realize choices have to be made with the money that comes in. One conversation starter during pancake breakfast is to get them thinking by giving them this scenario: “Pretend you have $100. What are you going to do with it?” Ask them if they would save it, spend it, or something else. Ask them if they would have spent it differently if they’d earned it or borrowed it.

Or how about playing the board game Pay Day while drinking hot chocolates after making those snow forts outside? Pay Day is all about money choices. Each player earns and spends money as they move along the board, while learning basic money management skills. The winner is the player left with the most cash at the end of the game. How’s that for a family game night contender?

Pre-teens to early teens: Raise their allowance this Family Day (wait, hear us out!)

Telling your child, “let’s have a chat” probably won’t make them come running. But saying, “let’s have a chat about raising your allowance” will probably pique their interest and make them put down their device. Once you have their attention, shift the conversation about how you’re proposing giving them more financial freedom and raising their allowance to teach them about saving, and how part of their “income” is for big items they are saving for.

Then, encourage them to put a portion of their allowance each week (it could even be the perfect time to open a savings account for them if you haven’t already). And if they do, they’ll get a higher allowance the following week as well. Saving is a practical money skill that will serve them their whole life. Also, let them fail! Yes, they might blow all their money on silly things, but it’s a good real-life lesson before the consequences get much bigger.

Teens and young adults: Teach them about debt and having a financial plan

Most educators and lesson plans for high school students don’t cover an economic education—i.e. how to manage debt, file taxes, plan for their financial future or the importance of their credit score. Since that’s the case, personal finance education needs to happen at home.

A hot topic to focus on for this age group should be debt, since credit cards often come into the picture around now. Your teen might enjoy shopping around for a credit card, and you can use this opportunity to compare interest rates, annual fees, and make sure they understand the implications of carrying debt. Teaching them about real-world budgeting, financial goals and having a financial plan can help ensure they can pay off their credit card bill each month.

You can help your child avoid the debt of a student loan with an RESP

One type of debt you really don’t want for your child if possible is a student loan (learn why here). The best way to do this is to save for their post-secondary education with a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)! If you’ve already set up an RESP for your child, you’re ahead of the game and you can reassure them that they’ll be in a better financial situation both in university and after they graduate. 

Here at CST Spark, we’re passionate about saving early and investing wisely.

That’s why we offer the simple, digital RESP for the next generation. It only takes a few minutes to get your RESP off the ground, and the sooner it’s set up, the sooner your RESP money can start growing over the years with government grants and investment earnings—all of which can be used towards your child’s post-secondary education. We use an age-based rebalancing strategy, and invest with one goal in mind: that you can help pay for your child’s post-secondary education, so they can follow their dreams—whether that’s to be a chef, dentist, florist or astronaut.

Is your child a pre-teen? Sit down with them and explore our RESP planner.

Our planner is fun to play around with, and lets you see how much your RESP could be worth come high school graduation.

We hope you enjoy your time together with your loved ones this Family Day, and we also hope everyone goes to bed at night just a little savvier about money! After all, it can make a big difference to your future, and your child’s future.

Want to learn more about what an RESP can do for your little superstar? We’d be happy to answer your questions, 6 days a week, over the phone or live chat.


CST Spark Education Portfolios is only sold by Prospectus.

C.S.T. Spark Inc. is the distributor and manager of the CST Spark Education Portfolios.

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