Rubina Ahmed-Haq: Parenting by the Numbers


Want Your Kid to Understand the Value of Money? Do This

Our kids need to be financially literate

Want Your Kid to Understand the Value of Money? Do This

Teaching kids about money - it’s certainly not a new topic. Right now is the perfect time to start since November is Financial Literacy month. For several years, school board and government bodies have been trying to find ways to help Canadians, including young people, to become more financial literate. The problem is, many parents are struggling with financial literacy themselves. So sitting down and teaching kids about money may seem like a tough task - how can you teach something you know little about?

Whether you have a one-year-old or a tween or a teen at home, if you haven’t already started the money conversation, it should start soon. Here are my top tips to get the conversation started:

1. Make money a part of your everyday conversations

If it's explaining that we need to get money from the bank to pay for groceries or encouraging your kids to save the coins they find, make money a topic that frequently finds its way into your conversations.

From the day my daughter uttered her first word, “this,” I’ve been talking to her about money. Money is not a secret in our home. My husband and I talk about paying bills, staying on budget, and getting the best deal, purposely in front of our daughter. We do this so she knows, from the beginning, what money is. The more a topic is discussed, the more it will sink in.

2. Make it fun

As you know, it can sometimes be hard to keep your kids' attention, so try introducing money topics in a fun way. There are tools available to make it interesting and enjoyable such as the new M is for Money book series.

The M is for Money series tells the financial tales of twins, Tessa and Benji. There is an emphasis on illustration, not text, which will keep them interested. My daughter insisted on finding the page with the big piggy bank after we had finished looking at the books, which shows me she was paying attention.

Tessa and Benji learn about earning, saving, budgeting, and dealing with money issues in an engaging way. They also learn about social responsibility by interacting with their neighbours and local shop owners, their local banker, and school personnel. The nine books in the series are great to use as conversation starters with your kids. Each book ends with games to reinforce the topics that were covered. After reading each book, go over new concepts and ask your child to explain them back to you.

M is for Money is an easy way for even the most financially illiterate parent to start teaching their kids. Outside of the books, you can download games, colouring activities, and recipes to make lemonade for a stand. You can also purchase "extras" such as jumbo magnets, bookmarks, play money, and more.

Author and business woman, Teresa Cascioli, has done a great job of making learning about money easy and fun and keeping kids interested by providing not just "textbook tools." The bonus is even though they are aimed at 5-9 year olds, many parents might find it’s a good way to start polishing their own money savings skills as well.

The first six books in the series are available in eBook, soft, and hardcover format at, Indigo/Chapters, Mastermind Toys and other retailers across Canada.

Book 1 - M is for Money - The Little Piggybank - What is Money?
Book 2 - M is for Money - The Little Lemonade Stand - Working for our Coins
Book 3 - M is for Money - The Little Trip to the Bank - The Big, Big Piggybank
Book 4 - M is for Money – The Little Wallet Named Pouch – What is Change?
Book 5 - M is for Money – A Little Loan for Benji – I Need More Money!
Book 6 - M is for Money – Counting Comes First – Making Choices with Our Money

Books 7-9 will be available in February 2016.

Bonus: A catchy Nickels & Dimes M is for Money song is also available for purchase on All proceeds will go toward children’s charities across Canada!

3. Use Real-Life Examples to teach money responsibility

Kids need to know what things costs, how we use and save money, and how easy it is to lose it. Use real examples they can be involved in to help drive home your points.

I gave my daughter a toonie and a loonie the last time we went to the mall - not so she could spend it, but to make her know she had some money to make a purchase if she wanted to. Somewhere along the way, she lost the toonie. When we got home, I used this as teachable moment to talk about money and the importance of keeping it safe. She understood, because a few days later when she found the toonie in her jacket, she came running to show me that in fact, she had kept it safe. She told me immediately, “I want to save this, and put it in my piggy bank.”

4. Remember: the money talk is just as important as safety talks

Just like most parents would scream STOP if their kids were running near the top of the stairs, by talking about money early on you will be stopping your kids from making decisions today that will keep them from falling into a debt spiral tomorrow.

Financial literacy provides young children an informational advantage they can carry with them throughout their lives. Without basic money skills, it is difficult to save, pay bills, and plan for the unexpected. By teaching financial literacy when they are young, your kids will make smart money choices in the future - just like the lessons you are teaching them about safety. Staying financially safe by not racking up tons of credit debt, does not come as easily.

Talking about money as a family does not have to be hard. With helpful tools such as the M is for Money book series and some planning, it can be fun and entertaining for both your kids AND you!