When it comes to money, there’s no more valuable tool than a budget. But budgets may not seem exciting or fun—so, how do you teach kids about budgeting, while keeping them interested?

Try planning a picnic. It could make lunch more interesting, and it could make it easier for your kids to swallow a critical lesson about money.

Note: Consider rewarding your child for their great saving habits by contributing to a Stash custodial account.

Teach your kids about saving and investing

Download the activity sheet

Getting started

What you need for the activity:

  • “Plan a picnic on a budget” activity sheet — Download and Print [PDF]
  • Calculator, if needed
  • Optional: a website or grocery store flyer from your local grocery store

Your kids are going to plan a picnic, and the goal is to stay within a budget for this activity. If you need help explaining what a budget is, try this:

Budget—It’s a plan for your money. It tells you how much you have, and what you plan to spend it on.

The goal here is to relay the idea that your kids can’t buy everything; They’re working with limited resources, and have to achieve the goal (throwing a picnic) while staying within their budget.

Activity instructions:

1. Print the activity.

2. Engage with your child: Share real-life experiences about how you budget for day to day and special occasions.

3. Explore: Your child should first plan the menu based on what they’d like, and their budget of $15. Encourage the child to choose at least 5 items.

4. Activity Modification: If the attached menu is too limited or does not interest your child, encourage them to create a menu that grabs their attention. Use your local grocery store’s website to find the cost of items.

5. After creating the menu, your child should list the grocery items needed and the cost of each. Calculate the total cost. Is the total greater than, less than, or equal to the budgeted amount?

6. Explain: Discuss changes they might want or need to make in the menu. Can they add more variety? Do they need to modify the menu to stay within the budget? After changes have been made, add and evaluate.

7. Elaborate: After completing the activity challenge the child to plan a party, a gift for a friend or family member, a school project, also using a budget.

Afterward: Talk to your kids!

Completing the activity is one thing, but you’ll want to make sure your children understand what they’ve learned, and can continue to apply what their new knowledge. Try asking these questions, and continue the conversation to reinforce the lesson:

  • Why is it important to set a budget before we shop?
  • Were you able to get everything you wanted?
  • What did you need to do when you did not have enough money in your budget for the items you wanted?

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