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Bringing Financial Education Into the Home

April 8, 2010

Michael Roush

This post was contributed by Michael Roush, National Program Director for the National Disability Institute and “Chief Financial Officer” of his family.

Often, when we think “financial education,” we might think of a structured classroom setting or an online course — likely the opposite of most family living environments. So when it comes to bringing financial education into the home, a great way to make your approach easy, fun and entertaining is to turn it into a game. 

Menu Management

Managing spending is a key piece of financial education. For most households, one of the largest monthly expenses is food.

Start by planning out your menu for one week with a Menu Planning Worksheet. Every member in the family can have an opportunity to contribute ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Assign one family member a designated day. For one week, one person is in charge of breakfast everyday. Or mix it up. There’s lots of possibilities and it’s fun to use colored markers to identify each person involved.

You’ll also want to create a Shopping List. So before you hit the grocery store, check the cupboards and refrigerator to see what items you need and add each item to your Shopping List; again, assigning certain members different areas to check keeps it fun. Put someone in charge of writing down each needed item on the list while others look.

Now, identify how much money you have to spend on groceries for the week. Write this number at the top of your Shopping List. Will the ingredients on your list reasonably fit your budget? If not, it’s okay to re-examine your Menu Planning Worksheet and adjust as needed.

Next, divide up the list among each family member and pile everyone into the car and head to the grocery store — remember, financial education is a team effort! And, as this stage of Menu Management is very much like a scavenger hunt, everyone can play. Remember: congratulate items found but be sure to emphasize that each member only retrieve the items on his or her list; if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t belong in the cart.

Once you’ve arrived home, the game continues as the entire team puts away the groceries — not only will your children be learning valuable financial skills but Menu Management also serves as a great teambuilding exercise!

Lastly, find a prominent spot for your Menu Planning Worksheet and keep it on display for everyone to refer to throughout the month.

You can download and print Menu Planning Worksheets, Shopping Lists here.

Michael

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