Kid’s Corner: Building a Budget

Authored By: Community Financial Credit Union on 7/21/2020
Though it’s hard to believe it when you’re knee-deep in their laundry and begging them to do their homework, your little ones won’t be young forever. Someday, they will be all grown up and have homes of their own. And while you can lecture them about budgeting, spending their allowances wisely and saving up for the occasional expensive item, running the finances of an entire household is a whole different ballgame. This simple yet challenging activity can help you teach them this crucial skill.

Materials Needed:

One Month’s Worth of Bills For:
  • Household utilities
  • Transportation-related bills, including car payments, insurance, auto loan payments, EZ pass bills, repairs and gas receipts
  • Health insurance
  • Cell phone
  •  Mortgage, including all taxes and insurance
  • Credit cards, and any other monthly bill
  • All grocery receipts from one month
  • Clothing, recreation and all other miscellaneous receipts from one month.
  •  Paychecks for one month (optional)
**If you don’t have all of the above bills, create a list that estimates each item.
  • Spreadsheet
  • Writing Materials
  • Calculator
  • Circulars
  • Piggy Bank
  1. Present your child with all your bills and receipts from one month (or the list of approximate expenses). Give your child all pay stubs from the same month. If you don’t feel comfortable revealing exactly how much income you and your spouse earn, you can create a fake paycheck. Make sure, though, that the amount you provide is reasonable and sufficient to cover all expenses.
  2. Tell your child you are challenging them to create a monthly budget. They must use the spreadsheet and materials given to tally up all expenses and income. They need to determine specific, practical amounts for groceries and all discretionary spending.
  3. Offer bonus points for any money your child manages to allocate for the piggy bank.
  4. Sit back and observe, withholding any advice or tips, as your child works out the budget.
  5. Review the results and go over any shortages or problem areas, while making sure to encourage them on areas they did well!
Variation: If your child is a visual learner or too young to do this on paper, you can try this activity with props. Offer them a pile of play money that’s equal to the income earned. Line up a row of empty shoe boxes, each of which is labeled with another monthly expense, and have them place the amount he believes each category requires in the corresponding shoe box.
To make it even simpler for younger children, you can label the boxes for fixed expenses (utility bills, mortgage, insurance etc.) with the amount they need each month. Your child only has to place the correct amount in those boxes and then divide up the rest among the fluctuating expenses to the best of their ability.

Can your child successfully create a family budget for a month? Review the results aloud and make sure your budding economist included all categories. If your child was able to put any money away, you can reward them with a bonus on them allowance.

Community Financial’s Education Partnership Coordinators are always looking for ways to share their helpful tips and tricks for learning about financial topics. Be sure to check out for more fun ways to teach your kids about everything from budgeting, interview skills, good and services, and more!

Your Turn: How do you teach your kids about creating a family budget? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

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