Hands-On Activities

Need help getting your kids to pay attention?

Try these activities. They can be fun and eye-opening for everyone in the family.

SAVING activities for every age

Young kids: Decorate separate jars for each savings goal. Create a bulletin board to track progress. Get everyone involved, and turn it into a family competition.

Middle schoolers: Help your child open a savings account. Shop for an account with no fees—your own bank may be willing to negotiate. Don’t forget to bring your child’s Social Security number. Ask the manager for a tour and a demonstration of online banking.

Teens: For teens who work, help them set up direct deposit so that a part of every paycheck automatically goes to their savings account.

All kids: As an incentive, consider matching your child’s savings with 25 cents or 50 cents on the dollar. Or offer a bonus if they reach their goal. It shows you’re behind their efforts.

SPENDING activities for younger kids

Even a young child can learn how to make good spending decisions. Here are some simple exercises to try:

  • Help a preschooler begin to understand the value of money by giving her a dollar to buy a nutritious snack. Let her pay for the snack herself, get a receipt and keep the change. Encourage her to put the coins in her piggy bank.
  • Turn a grocery-shopping trip into a bargain-hunting game. Example: Can your child find a box of cereal for $3?
  • Comparison shop. Have your kids find the most expensive and the least expensive juice. Talk about why one costs more.

Help teens track spending

Help older kids stay on top of their spending habits with a downloadable spending tracker. Make copies for your teen and have them keep copies in their wallet or purse for a week and write down every time they spend money. Review what they’ve spent at the end of the week, and talk about their decisions and how they might better manage their money.

BUDGETING activities for older kids

Make budgeting fun by letting kids plan a trip or an outing.

  • Give them a budget—$1,000 for a family vacation or $75 for a special family night out, for example.
  • Have them research and estimate expenses for transportation, lodging, meals and activities.
  • Help them be creative and make tradeoffs to stay within budget. For example, if dinner and a movie exceed the budget, help the kids find a free event in the local newspaper.

Help teens plan a monthly budget

Show your kids where the money goes. Complete the online monthly budget planner with them. Then print it to save and share with other members of the family. Do this for the family budget and for your son or daughter’s personal budget.

INVESTING activities for every age

Ages 10 & up: Try virtual investing. Demonstrate how to research stocks online, and then have your kids "buy" 10 shares of a few companies they like. Record the purchase price, monitor the performance and, after a month, have them calculate what they gained or lost.

Teens: Open a custodial account (or a custodial Roth IRA if your teen has earned income), and let them help select appropriate investments. Have quarterly check-ins to review how well the investments have performed.

Young adults: As young adults move into the workforce, encourage them to contribute to their employer’s company 401(k) at least up to the company match, or encourage them to open a Roth IRA as soon as they start working. This can give them a terrific head start on retirement savings.


(1109-10800)

Save Smarter

Follow eight simple guidelines to get the most out of your money.

Learn More

Ask Carrie

Get valuable advice from a family finance expert.

Read More

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal, or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, consult with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner, or investment manager.

The Charles Schwab Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, private foundation that is not part of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. or its parent company, The Charles Schwab Corporation.

Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. ("Schwab"). All rights reserved. Member SIPC.