Some children learn to identify coins and their values long before they enter grade school. They realize what cash can and cannot do for them. But school-age children often are confused about the act of writing checks and charging purchases to a debit or credit card. If you ever have told your child, “I don’t have the money to buy that,” only to hear your child say, “Just write a check,” or “Just use your credit card,” you understand completely.

Today’s children learn about money in a very complex world. Children learn most of their attitudes about money from their parents, so a family’s guidance and support are the keys to helping children understand. Preteens learn that their money supply is limited. They may need help realizing that money also is limited for everyone else, including their parents. Parents also must help children understand that they need to have money before they can write a check, use a debit card or repay a purchase made with a credit card.

You may choose to involve your children in family finances to help them understand the concepts of cash, checks and credit cards. If so, the following ideas may prove helpful to you:

  • Your child might help you balance your monthly checking account by putting the checks in order or calling off the amounts while you mark off canceled checks.
  • Your child might write out portions of monthly checks.
  • Your child might cross-check individual credit card charge slips with monthly billing statements.
  • Convert your paycheck into cash and involve your child in counting out dollars for monthly bills and budgeted expenses. If any cash remains, discuss together your spending and saving options.

PUZZLED: The following answers refer to the terms at the beginning of this document. You may choose to discuss the topics of cash, checks and credit cards with your child, using these questions to initiate a discussion.

"Check It Out" answers

Across: 1. checking account, 4. currency, 9. charges, 10. endorse, 12. bank account, 16. interest, 18. debts, 19. dollar, 21. balance, 23. withdraw, 24. coins, 25. annual fee, 26. quarter, 27. management.
Down: 1. checkbook, 2. ink, 3. cash, 4. credit card, 5. check, 6. deposits, 7. penny, 8. statements, 11. money, 13. nickel, 14. bill, 15. signature, 17. service, 19. dime, 20. credit, 21. buck, 22. bank.

"Operation: Cash Identification" answers

  1. Washington
  2. Lincoln
  3. Hamilton
  4. Jackson
  5. Lincoln
  6. Jefferson
  7. Roosevelt
  8. Washington

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