How to Teach Your Kid About Money

When I stumbled into adulthood a couple of decades ago, money was an absolute mystery to me—or at least, the management of it was. Expenses like car maintenance, water, trash, health insurance and taxes came as a huge shock, stunning me with how quickly they could consume my paycheck. And who knew food was so expensive?

I’d always had big ideas about all the cool stuff I would do in my adult life, but not much of a plan for how I would fund those ideas. No one ever sat me down and went line-by-line over the actual expenses of the real world, so the first five or ten years of my adulthood were indoctrination by fire.

I want my kids to go into careers and adulthood with their eyes wide open. I want them to know what life really costs before they leave home and choose a career path. So I’m making sure I teach them.

But I’m making it fun.

I’ve been turning real-life money lessons into a game of make-believe. My kids imagine an entire world based on their career goals and desires for their future. And then we plug in all the numbers as if that life were real. Think LIFE meets Monopoly meets Sims. Here’s how it works.

Have your kid pick a career

Then direct them to a salary website such as, Glassdoor or PayScale and find out how much they would expect to earn per year in that career. You could even find a job listing that lists the pay and pretend that your child was hired for that job. Determine their take-home pay by deducting a percentage for taxes and health insurance.

Find out where they’d like to live

If they found a job listing and pretended they were hired, they can use or Zillow to look for an apartment or house near that job’s…

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