Saving money doesn’t always come easy, especially with the increased cost of living in this day in age, so it feels like we’ve got to pinch pennies anywhere we possibly can. If you’re a parent, that can sometimes be a pretty difficult feat because kids don’t really understand why money sacrifices need to be made.
So, why not explore ways that you can make saving fun? Getting your kids involved, inspired, and interested in saving money from the get-go will allow them to develop a healthy relationship with money, learn money management skills and practice putting them to work, contribute to shared family goals, and pave the path to a successful financial future.
Read along for some ways you can make saving money fun for the entire family.
Create a Family Goal Chart
Saving as a family can be challenging, but it doesn’t need to be. Got shared family goals in mind? Start by determining what you’re saving for—perhaps it’s for a family fun night once a month, a week-long family vacation, getting a puppy, or helping pay for your older kids’ college education—and then establish a goal. Think about how much you’d like to save, how you plan to reach your goals, and a timeline for when you’d like to achieve them by.
Kids may not have an understanding or genuine interest in how they can help you reach savings goals, and that’s completely normal. The reason being is quite simple; they don’t fully grasp the meaning or the “why” behind saving just yet and how it’ll affect them. Get them involved from an early age and explain how savings goals will benefit them and encourage everyone to work as a family to achieve your goals together. Remind them of the reward that awaits them at the end, so it serves as more of a motivator and gives them something to look forward to.
One way you can make saving money fun is by creating a family goal chart that’s in a central location of your home so everyone can refer to it often. Set a money goal and begin tracking your progress. You can create a thermometer-style tracker and surround it with pictures of whatever you’ve decided to save for (maybe it’s that adorable puppy or your family vacation, or both!). Have your kids take turns coloring in the thermometer to document the progress each time you hit a goal. This will teach your kids good saving habits and shows them in real time how much closer you are to reaching your goals and encourages everyone to keep up the hard work in the meantime.
Have a Yard Sale
Another easy way to earn a few extra bucks is by having a good ol’ fashioned yard sale/garage sale. This one is a win-win because not only are you selling your used items for cash, but you and your kids are also decluttering your home and getting rid of items in the process that other families may have a need for.
While you’re holding down the fort of the yard sale, encourage your kids to extra make money of their own with their very own bake sale or lemonade stand. Yard sales attract tons of people in a 5-7 hour period (or however long you decide to host your yard sale for), so people are bound to get a craving for a delicious treat or ice-cold lemonade. Or some yard sale enthusiasts may simply want to show their support for your little entrepreneurs and throw them a few dollars just because.
Go for a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are always entertaining but take the fun a step further and make it a money scavenger hunt. Have your kids look for money that may be hidden throughout the house; you can decide if it’s money that was hidden by you intentionally or unintentionally, perhaps in couch cushions, old purses, or other belongings.
Make a game of it and set a timer to see who can find the most money in the allotted time you select. Start the scavenger hunt with a countdown (your kids can take turns) and then send everyone on their way to find the hidden treasures. Once the timer rings, bring everyone together so you can each count up the money to determine who found the most.
You can come up with a special prize for the winner that won’t cost extra money—maybe they can skip their weekly chores, choose what the family will eat for dinner one night, have an extra hour of TV time or video games, or for older kids, a 30-minute extension to their curfew. You can also decide to give them the choice of keeping the money they found or adding it to the shared family goal.
Match Your Kids’ Savings
One of the most common ways that kids are able to save money is through their allowance, birthday presents, and holiday gifts. Needless to say, this can certainly be a challenge for them to want to save, because oftentimes, they’d rather spend the money on the latest and greatest toys and gadgets immediately. A unique idea for families would be to set a savings match (could be dollar for dollar or more if you’re feeling generous) for every bit of money they decide to save from their allowance or gifts.
This will allow your kids to feel an immediate sense of satisfaction knowing that they made a good choice in deciding to save, which will help them contribute to shared family goals, or better yet, empower them to continue to build and maintain healthy financial habits in the future. Plus, the money they saved is getting doubled (or tripled or more!) and they’ll be able to witness it increasing over time.
I’m sure there have been many times where you’ve had to remind your kids to turn off their lights or close their windows/doors when the air conditioner is running. And quite honestly, it’s not all that surprising because kids don’t understand or even care about how big of a deal it is until they’re adults themselves and responsible for paying their own bills. Utility bills can rack up pretty quickly, but how exactly can you get your children on board with conserving energy?
Gather up the whole family and go for an energy savings hunt around your home! The first step to teaching your children how to save energy is showing them the dos and don’ts. Explain to them what “energy leaks” are, such as letting the water run while brushing teeth and washing dishes, leaving the lights on when exiting a room, keeping doors and windows open, and leaving the TV and other electronics powered on. Turn it into a fun game and let them find the leaks to keep them engaged and eager to help. After a month passes by, look at the bill together and compare it to the month prior to see how well your efforts paid off and how much the bill decreased. Then, continue down this new path and discuss what other changes you could make in future months to continue saving money and reducing energy.
Spend Time Making “Free” Memories
Ready to get creative about how you can save money while creating precious memories in the process? Make “free” memories with your family. Rather than going out to restaurants or shopping every weekend, spend time with your family by coming up with activities that won’t cost you a dime. If you need help coming up with ideas, here are some to get you started:
Check out free events that are being held in your community; perhaps it’s a free concert or a movie night in the park.
Go for a family hike, enjoy a long bike ride, or take a dip in your local river or lake.
Set up a tent in the backyard and go camping under the stars. You can build a campfire and take turns telling stories. Not the outdoorsy type? No problem! Set up a fort inside using couch cushions and blankets, then grab some popcorn and sit back and relax with your kids’ favorite movies or have a game night.
Spend an afternoon at the playground running around and playing on the swings and slides. You could also bring a ball for a friendly game of catch or kickball. And don’t forget to pack a picnic with everyone’s favorite snacks for when you get hungry.
Those are just a few to start, but feel free to keep adding to the list as you please. The options are endless! Plus, now that we’re officially in a new season, there are tons of budget-friendly fall activities the whole family can enjoy, like carving pumpkins, baking, or roasting marshmallows to make s’mores.
If you want to kick it up a notch, create an activity wheel filled with fun, free activities. Encourage your kids to get involved and think of fun activities they’d like to add to the wheel. Then, take turns spinning the wheel and partake in whichever activity it lands on as a family.
Making free memories is priceless. These precious moments will bring you and your kids closer together and will last you a lifetime, which means more than anything money could ever buy.
Ready, Set, Save with GOLD
Now it’s your time to shine! Take these tips and put them into action by getting your whole family involved in the fun. And always remember, when you need a hand, GOLD is here for you. From GOLD Youth Accounts that are designed motivate your kids to save and create responsible money habits to Vacation, Holiday, or Custom Club accounts that can help you and your family save for what’s most important to you, we’re here to make your family’s savings goals come to life.