University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FAR9023

Teaching Toddlers about Money1

Donna Davis2

Figure 1. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

In my youth, talking about money was taboo. As my fellow baby boomers are at prime spending years and nearing retirement, current debt and savings trends might lead one to believe they didn't have much financial education either. The Credit Union National Association is making an effort to close the knowledge gap—beginning with teaching preschoolers. The association has developed a program called, "Thrive by Five: Teaching Your Preschooler About Spending and Saving" (

The program features a number of activities that parents can do with their preschoolers, such as developing a savings chart to teach your child how to wait to spend money--not something today's credit-oriented culture currently promotes! The activity begins with a conversation with your child about why they need to save. Next, help them establish a spending goal. Ask them what they might want to buy at the store, starting with a small item. Finally, you and your preschooler can plan out and draw a chart, creating as many boxes as there are coins (or dollars) in your child's savings goal. Use the same coin for each part of the chart and make sure your child knows what each part stands for. For each coin saved, your child can fill in a box that can help them see how close they are to their goal. Praise your child as they make progress toward their savings goal. Establishing good financial habits early can really make a difference in their future financial security.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


Credit Union National Association. (2006). Thrive by five: teaching your preschooler about spending and saving. Retrieved May 8, 2007, from



This document is FAR9023, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 155 and published January 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Donna Davis, senior producer, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.