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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Extension Today: Teaching Children Finances

It's early in the year, and this is a great time to talk about financial wellness, in addition to physical and emotional wellness. Well, really it's always a good time to talk about financial wellness – especially with the young people in your life. Especially after the holidays, if your children have received any money as gifts this year, now's your chance to help them think about saving in addition to spending – so they have more to spend later. A fiscally responsible mindset can also be very key to other elements of wellness over their lifetime.

Getting a Smart Start. Rachel Stoneburner, Extension program coordinator, 4-H youth development, joins Jenny Lobb for a discussion about how to help your kids get started saving and spending money wisely.


  • Save/Spend/Share Approach: Encourage your child to save at least 10% of their money and donate at least 10% to a charity of choice; then they can spend the rest.

  • Open a bank account for your child if they don’t already have one.

  • Help your child identify what they want to purchase. Provide choices for younger children; and help guide their thinking somewhat. For example, ask "would you like to purchase this or that?" Help them understand whether they have enough money to purchase the desired item, how much more they need, or what they will have left after the purchase, etc.

  • Lead by example. Live within your means, be open with your budget (to the extent it makes sense for the child's age and maturity). Share how much it costs to purchase clothes, food, etc. Don’t just purchase everything you or your child wants; demonstrate trade-offs and choices as you spend your own money responsibly.

We have free fact sheets available on Ohioline and related posts to learn more about saving money, spending wisely, and making informed financial decisions:

Counting Your Money Calendar: Financial health is an important part of our overall health and wellness, and learning to keep track of your finances is an excellent place to start. This handy calendar can help you understand where your money goes, and how to create and utilize a budget. Developed by OSU Extension family and consumer sciences professionals, this excellent resource incorporates the use of a budgeting system with easy-to-use worksheets and instructions.

Real Money. Real World. (RMRW) is a youth-focused financial literacy program from OSU Extension. It can be used with youth ages 12-18, but it is ideally suited for youth ages 13-16. The curriculum is time-tested and has been highly successful because of the creative community efforts of Extension educators, local school teachers, and community volunteers. It includes several classroom lessons, followed by a hands-on budget management and decision-making spending simulation and then a post-session evaluation of spending choices made during the simulation.

Real Money. Real World. is supported by Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague.
 In early 2021, Treasurer Sprague announced a partnership with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) to advance and expand the use of the college’s Real Money. Real World. financial literacy program statewide. 

There's always room to improve! Many of our OSU Extension family and consumer sciences professionals focus on helping everyone have more healthy finances. They can help you and your family make some solid plans to change your saving, spending, and budgeting habits so you can improve your current financial situation. Learn how our experts can help you take a new look at handling money. They offer a number of learning opportunities throughout the staff. See how our Healthy Finances team can improve your relationship with money!

We have several money management-focused 4-H project books that you can order to use independently, or as part of a 4-H project if your youth is a 4-H member.

Becoming Money Wise: This beginner-level project book is designed for youth ages 10 to 13 to learn how to monitor cash flow, develop a budget, and keep good records.

Teens on the Road to Financial Success: Teens ages 14 to 19 have the opportunity to organize their financial lives by analyzing spending, obtaining and managing banking services, making consumer decisions, and exploring financial careers.