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Five Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money

One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is something that they won't learn in the classroom — a fundamental understanding of money and finances. Simply put, good spending habits are hard to come by — and learning those habits is something we're often taught the hard way.

The earlier you have an understanding of basic budgeting, the better off you will be in the future. Fortunately, it's never too early to begin teaching kids smart spending habits and the value of a dollar.

Whether it's saving money or avoiding a scam or ripoff, Mattress Firm's here to show you that teaching your kids these lessons doesn't have to be boring. Here are some of our favorite ways to impart your hard-earned budgeting wisdom onto your children...

Use Cash.

Technology has made it easier than ever to treat yourself to an impulse purchase — with a few clicks of your mouse, sometimes its not until your credit card bill comes that you feel the pangs of buyers remorse. A good way to show your kids that every dollar counts is the old fashioned way — using cash. Sometimes it's better to use a credit card, but showing the value of paper bills and coins will provide more of a visual explanation of how buying goods and services works. It's also a teaching moment for young children to learn the names and values of each unit of currency. For example, while a dime may be smaller, it's worth more than a nickel.

Play Money-Savvy Games.

The reviews are in and Mattress Firm's found that the old-fashioned board games that we grew up loving as kids are still just as fun today! The Game of Life, for example, teaches kids about the importance of saving for retirement, while Monopoly is a lesson in investing and financial risk.

Consider an Allowance.

It's hard to feel the disappointment of wasting or carelessly spending money if it isn't your own. Consider giving your son or daughter a few household chores each week, in exchange for an allowance. Encourage them to track how much they earn and spend, and the next time they ask for a big-ticket item, like a new gaming system, put it in perspective by showing them what sacrifices they would need to make in order to save up for the item. How many hours of washing the dishes will that new video game really cost? Mattress Firm has found that an understanding of products and prices, yields respect for the spend of the purchase. An allowance invites your kids to appreciate and understand the work required to earn every dollar, as well as the financial responsibility of budgeting their earnings.

Encourage Giving Back.

Children are natural givers, so donating is a fun way to make philanthropy enjoyable and part of the financial lesson. Work with your children and their neighborhood friends to raise money for a cause by setting up a lemonade stand to show the financial results of hard work. If you're donating the earnings to a local cause, show your children how good it feels to give,  by bringing a donation to a local foundation in person.

Set a Good Example.

Remember that your kids are watching you! If you're dodging calls from collection agencies or disagreeing with your spouse about your budget or how to manage your budget, they will notice — and those habits are easy to pick up. Set a healthy example for them and they will be much more likely to follow it as they get older.

Our kids see us handling money every day, but we often forget to talk to them about it. Encouraging our children to spend smartly begins with the lessons we teach from a young age.

Above all, don't shy away from talking to your kids about money. Smart spending habits start early in life, but pay off later as children grow and become financially independent.

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