Author: Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank of Omaha

As a parent, it’s important to instill in your child the importance of saving to ensure he or she is prepared to make smart money decisions for years to come. It’s never too early to start educating about the value of money and financial literacy skills, which is why we encourage you to start having these conversations as early as possible.

Read on for suggested tips to help teach your child about money:

Earlier Years:

  • Introduce your child to each coin and bill amount and help him or her understand their respective values. When making a purchase, help visualize their worth by paying in cash and counting out the change with your child. 
  • To further educate about the importance of saving, encourage your child to decorate and create his or her own piggy bank to collect spare coins in. Count the totals together on a regular basis. 

Elementary School Years:

  • To help explain the value of a dollar and how it needs to be earned, have your child perform household chores in exchange for an allowance. Not only will this help instill a sense of satisfaction in a job well done, but it can become a learning opportunity if your child does not fulfill his or her responsibilities for the week. In this case, help your child understand how this might impact the amount of allowance he or she will earn at the end of the week, and provide an opportunity to catch up.
  • Expand your child’s piggy bank savings habits by helping him or her learn about short term wants (such as a toy) versus long term needs (such as putting money away for higher education). Encourage him or her to have two piggy banks to learn to distribute and save money for both short- and long-term goals.
  • When going shopping, have your child help create a list with itemized costs and have him or her help pick out items that fall within the allotted budget. 

Middle School Years

  • Quiz your child about prices of everyday items (a shirt, shoes, cereal box, etc.) to see how much he or she thinks it costs and explain the actual cost. This will help your child better understand the value of a dollar and item value overall.
  • Encourage your child to visualize his or her future, and price out how much an ideal lifestyle will actually cost. Have him or her estimate the salary needed to achieve these goals, and factor in prices for pets, cars, taxes etc.

Well past the middle school years, financial literacy will continue to be an important theme, and we encourage you to continuously implement smart money lessons into your child’s life on a daily basis. Have additional financial literacy tips you’d like to share with the NEST 529 community? Reach out to us on Facebook or by email at for the opportunity to have your tips featured in an upcoming blog.