Financial literacy can seem like a daunting skillset to impart to young children. However, the truth is it’s never too early to teach your child about money—after all, they learn how to count once they start attending preschool.

By helping them realise the importance of saving, budgeting, investing and sharing, you will set them on a steady path towards being financially responsible.

Teaching financial literacy isn’t a one-off affair though; the lessons and language should evolve as your child grows up. Here’s how you can present the information in an age-appropriate manner.

For the preschoolers

Children of this age learn best through play so make full use of their masak-masak here. For instance, you can set up a make-believe grocery store and take turns playing buyer and seller using the loose change you have lying around. While at it, show them how to add up coins and dollar notes.

Got a little artist at home? Place a sheet of paper above different coins and do coin shading with his or her favourite colours.

For kindergarteners, you can give them a weekend allowance of a few dollars to spend on small items so they get an early sense of managing money.

For school-going children

Most P1 students will start getting a daily allowance to use at recess and know how to do simple calculations in their head. Encourage them to save the excess in a clear jar at home so they can see their money grow. You can also start a savings account for them and make trips to the bank to deposit their cash every few months.

Comparison shopping is another fun and realistic way to learn about thriftiness. At the supermarket, show them two juice brands with different prices—try them both at home and let them evaluate if it is worthwhile paying for the higher-priced item.

Donating to charity is also something to bring up at regular intervals. You can encourage your child to donate by doing dollar-matching by you and your spouse so it becomes a family contribution!

For teenagers

From the age of 13, you may consider giving your child a weekly or monthly allowance and have them plan his or her budget. Ask the questions: What are your needs versus wants? Why do you need or want a certain item? And do you absolutely have to buy said item right now?

Some who have chalked up a sizeable amount of cash savings can also look into simple investment tools such as fixed deposits. At the same time, the more entrepreneurial at heart can sell pre-loved belongings to earn extra cash or get a holiday job like babysitting.