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Math & Money for Kids

Money-how much do you have? What do you know about how it works? It's fun to spend it on things like new toys or video games, but are you money wise? If you take the time to learn about things like the names and values of money, how to use math as a tool with your money, and how to make a plan for your money, you'll be on your way to being a money master. Let's get started!

First, work on learning the names and values of different kinds of money. Coins are round pieces of money made from metal. Bills are paper money. In the US, pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters are the most common coins. Pennies are worth one cent, nickels are five cents, dimes are ten cents, and quarters are 25 cents. The value of bills is a little easier to remember because it is printed in numerals right on the paper. Usually you will see bills worth one, five, ten, 20, 50, or 100 dollars. 100 cents is equal to one dollar.

Now start using your math skills as a tool to help you master money! Since bills and coins are all ones, twos, fives, or tens it's really easy to use skip-counting to find out how much money you have. Add up the numbers you see on your bills. Start with the largest number and work your way to the smallest. The total amount of your bills is your dollar amount. Then do the same with any coins. The total of coins you have is your cents. Now you can say, "I have ____ dollars and ____ cents."

Estimating and subtracting are two more math skills that will help you master your money. At the store, round up the prices of the items you want to buy to the nearest dollar. Add the estimated amounts up. If your estimated total is less than the amount of money you have in your pocket, you have enough money to pay for all of your items. Subtracting can help you figure out how much money you will have left after you buy something. It can also help you know if the cashier is giving you the right amount of change from the cash register. When the cashier counts your money back to you, that is called "making change". Making change is an important process to understand. It's probably easiest to learn how to make change by having an adult help you in person, or by using one of the games below.

After you understand how the math of money works, learn how to use your money wisely. One idea many kids use involves three jars. One jar is for saving, one jar is for giving, and one is for spending. Every time you earn or get money, some of it should go in each jar. Talk with your parents about ideas for how you should use the money in each jar.

There are lots of fun ways to share your money and help others. If you love animals, maybe your "give" money could go to a local animal shelter. Many people are hungry; you could buy groceries for a family in need or give to a food bank.

Saving money is important too. If you don't have a savings account, your parents can help you start one at the bank. You can use your account to save money for college or your first car!

Spending is what most kids love to do with money. Have fun, but learn how to spend wisely. Have you ever bought something only to have it break as soon as you started playing with it? That's an awful feeling isn't it? Often it's better to save money and buy something more expensive and well-made.