How To Teach Your Kids About Money: The 5 Day Teen (Or Tween) Budget Challenge


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Trying to teach your teenager or tweenager about money?


You're not alone. 


Like anyone with children, we struggle at times wondering if we're teaching our own kids the value of a dollar. Our kids know that we've always lived on a budget, but as our finances have become a little less stretched than in those early years, we often loosen the reigns just because we don't have to be quite as careful with our finances as we once were.

And I'm so glad that after years of penny pinching we're in a place that we can do that.


However, in just a few years my older kids will be heading out into the world and navigating finances on their own. While I *think* they know that money doesn't grow on trees, I'm not always quite sure, and we've been looking for ways to teach them how to really handle money.


Enter the five day money saving challenge.


For five days, our teen and tween kids (ages 15 and 12) will each have control of our grocery and miscellaneous budget. As I've shared before, we live on a bi-weekly budget, meaning for us that every two weeks we take out a certain amount of cash for groceries, eating out, and any other miscellaneous expenses (or fun money.)

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So, until Saturday, my twelve year old chief penny pincher Caroline is in charge. 🙂 (She actually started the challenge yesterday – Jackson will start next week) She's required to menu plan, grocery shop, and decide where we eat (and to some extent what we eat), for the next few days.


Her motivation?


Any money that she doesn't spend beyond the cash budget is hers. 


Y'all, this girl is beyond herself excited, and I'm pretty sure we'll be eating rice and beans for the rest of the week.


Here's what she's spent so far:

Family Dollar $2.25

We were out all day picking up my youngest Reagan at camp and walking a huge walking trail. After driving for two hours and then walking for 5 miles we were starving, so she was willing for she and I to spend $2.25 on snacks before picking up Reagan. (She was pretty savvy and refused to stop after picking up Reagan – she knew that would cut into her budget too far!)


Sam's Club lunch $6.17

Today we had to meet my husband to pick out stone for the outdoor fireplace my husband's working on (more details coming soon), and didn't have time to get lunch before we headed out to meet him. I had some Entertainment Book coupons in my car, but she decided most restaurants were above her budget even with a coupon. We ended up at Sam's Club of course because she knew that she could easily stick to her budget there!


She really hesitated over purchasing drinks (we were surprised that the Pretzel Combo costs a whopping $.79 more with a drink while the hot dog combo is only $.20 more after the drink.) Reagan convinced Caroline that by getting a hot dog combo she was saving Caroline extra money, and Caroline then told us we were welcome to try the free samples throughout the store while we were there. 🙂


Sam's Club groceries $16.88

We picked up a few basic groceries at Sam's at lunchtime as well (as I've been traveling so much this month, our pantry is just about empty!) Here's what she purchased at Sam's:

  • Large bag salad $1.98 (I hate Iceberg Lettuce Salads but she and my husband love them. At $1.98, no matter what kind of salad she chose I couldn't say no!)
  • Package of apple slices (we hardly ever go to Sam's and they're the only store that carries these. My kids love them and eat a ton of apples when they're on hand, so she thought they were worth it. I know they're overpriced, but goodness I love the convenience of them too!)
  • Bananas $1.48
  • Nutella $7.22 (somehow she thought this was $3.72 and went way over her budget before I caught it.  Lesson learned!)
  • Milk $2.22
  • Total = $16.88



Caroline planned a few meals on the way to Kroger. Her plan is homemade pizza, homemade chicken potpie and breakfast for dinner. Since we have most of the ingredients for those items, her grocery bill wasn't too bad! Here's what she bought:

  • 2 Kroger Pizza Crusts $2.49
  • 1 Kroger Cheese $2.99 (EXCELLENT price for 4 cups – great deal going on this week if you need to stock up!)
  • Kroger Pie Shells $1.66
  • 2 packs Kroger Waffles on sale $1, used $.75/2 Kroger Wafffle e coupon (great price!)
  • 2 Kroger brand cream of chicken soups for chicken pot pie $.89 (I'd rather make this homemade recipe, but knew that was more cooking than I was up to teaching this afternoon, so it worked in a pinch!)
  • 4 Yogurts $.40 each
  • 2.81 pounds Grapes $2.47 (great price!)
  • Kroger Mixed Veggies $.69 (the can of VegAll that I usually use for pot pie was $1.89 ~ we looked at the ingredients and they were identical, so she decided it was an easy way to save over $1)
  • Kroger Bread $1
  • Granny Smith Apples $3.99 (she wanted to buy the larger ones not in a bag which were a whopping $1.99/lb. ~ the bagged apples were $1.33 per pound so a much better price)
  • Dial Liquid Soap $.89
  • Kroger Pizza Sauce $1.29
  • Total = $25.98


Her total spent so far is $51.28, and within her budget (especially if she can keep everyone eating out for the next few days!) I'm curious to see how it goes and have loved watching her mind work as she's figuring out the ins and out of budgeting and menu planning. I'll keep you updated on how it goes, and if you've come up with other ways to teach budgeting in your family I'd love to hear your suggestions!




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  1. Jennifer B. says

    I thought of your family when I was out shopping today. I do not purchase the pre-cut apples, but noticed them at both my Super Target and Walmart Supercenter. You may wish to check those stores out, if they are in your area, to see if they too carry the apple slices.

    • Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for watching for them (I know they’re such a silly splurge, but my kids love them!) I’ve seen them at Walmart before but hardly ever shop there, and our Targets nearby aren’t Super Target stores. I need to check the price on them at Kroger (if they have the bigger packages and not just the single serve pouches?) Thank you so much for thinking of us – I feel a little guilty every time I buy those but goodness they do make life a little easier! 🙂

      • Jennifer B. says

        You are so welcome! I’m the exact same way about Smucker’s Uncrustables frozen sandwiches. They save me time and aggravation for my son’s school lunches so they are worth it to me. Of course I get them for a decent price at our base commissary which helps a lot. Not sure I’d still splurge if I had to pay what the grocery stores charge for them.

        • I’ve seen sales on Uncrustables (Publix used to have a big sale before the school year started), and stocked up on those then too Jennifer! Like you even though I do love the convenience I have such a hard time paying for them – glad to know I’m not alone! 🙂

  2. Wow! I am SO impressed that she can do this. Such an awesome life lesson for her!

    • I was so proud of her – she did so well! It also made me think that as they’re getting older they could learn to handle the budgeting for longer (it would be less stress on me, and such an important lesson for them!)


    I like the idea of them keeping the money left over. The teen we are raising is getting ready to do his first menu and grocery shopping on his own. That will most certainly motive him more.


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