Removing the Fear from Teaching Kids About Money

all ages elementary-aged financial literacy high school-aged middle school-aged starter tips

By Alec Lindenauer, COR Chief Allowance Officer

I like to ask parents about their Why

Why are you teaching your kids about money? 

Here’s mine: I teach my kids about money because I want them to be in charge of their own destiny. I don’t want their choices to be dictated to them because of money, but rather, I want them to be able to make their own choices. 

But not every parent has taken the plunge to teach their kids about money. I like to ask those parents about their Why Not

When I ask caregivers why they’re not teaching their kids about money, one of the most common answers I hear is, “I don’t know a lot about money, so I wouldn’t even know what to teach!”

What I hear there is fear … Fear of finance. And I totally get it. The inner workings of the stock market, mortgage amortization, tax law … All of that can be intimidating. 

But finance is the science of money. And as far as our kids learning about money, the science of it all isn’t nearly as important as teaching money behavior. And hey, as parents, we’re already well practiced at teaching our kids how to behave.

In order to have our kids grow into money savvy young adults, we’re looking for them to practice healthy money behavior in five key areas: Spend, Save, Invest, Donate and Borrow. Not only is teaching good behavior in these areas easier than teaching science, it’s a whole lot more effective.

Consider nutrition as an analogy. 

I don’t let my kids eat candy before dinner, and I never have. Quite simply, it’s not healthy, and I wouldn’t want to foster that sort of bad habit. The food coloring and sugar is bad for them, and if they fill up on candy, they won’t have room in their bellies for the healthy stuff.

Of course, this practice is fairly standard in most homes. Collectively, we’re all teaching healthy eating habits, a.k.a. healthy eating behaviors.


Now when my daughters were young, they would whine, “Why can’t I have candy now?!?!”

Never did I give them a scientific nutritional reason. Yes, I know sugar is bad. Can I tell you the exact chemical reaction in their brains or bellies on a molecular level when sugar compounds are absorbed into their bloodstream? No. Frankly, I don’t even know if that sentence just made sense. 

What I do know is that by allowing them to practice eating healthy food every single day, they are more likely to develop good habits. And over time, those habits develop into behavior. 

Nutrition is a science, just like finance. Both have intricacies and complexities, but you don’t need to have your PhD in either one to teach good behavior. 

So what do you need? 

You really just need two things: Desire and Consistency. Since you’re reading this, you probably already have some desire to teach your kid about money. But to be consistent, you might be searching for an anchor. 

Anchors for healthy eating habits are easy. We have three anchors each day … Breakfast, lunch and dinner. All three lend themselves to easy eating behavior conversations, but other food conversations naturally pop up all the time. When they do, we basically revisit the behavior themes talked about during mealtime.

You’re going to need to work a little harder for a money teaching anchor. But thankfully, not much harder. To be specific, my money anchor happens once each month.

The first Sunday of every month in our house is COR Money Day. On our designated COR Money Day, I follow a set 45-minute allowance routine with my kids. That routine is our anchor. 

Not only is the routine designed specifically to allow my kids an opportunity to practice those five money behaviors (Spend, Save, Invest, Donate, and Borrow), it’s dedicated time to talk about any money topic under the sun. 

And when natural money conversations pop up through the rest of the month, we basically revisit the behavior conversations we had during our COR Day ritual. That’s why it’s our anchor. 

I hope you’ll try an anchor of your own. Nothing complicated … just one dedicated money conversation per month to discuss behavior … And not complicated, scary finance topics.

You never know … Your kid just might fear broccoli more than you fear a good money convo.


 If you need a little guidance developing your COR Day anchor, check out our Parent Resources page. If you’re looking for one-stop-shop hand-holding through the whole process, check out our Starter Course. It’s the complete toolkit!



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