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Ways to turn kids into savers, not spenders with Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee

Updated: May 23

By Kelsie Blazier | ABC 15

When she was elected to office as the Treasurer of Arizona in 2018, financial literacy for Arizonans was important to Kimberly Yee.

“I believe there is a direct correlation between money management in a home to the greater fiscal health of the state of Arizona,” Yee said. “So, if we can teach our young children early on, we are able to help them have those important skills when they become adults.”

As a former legislator, Yee sponsored bills to create academic standards for financial education in Arizona schools.

“These academic standards help children as young as kindergarten learn how to start saving, even with a piggy bank, and making those types of issues fun,” Yee said. “Because you can make financing and being able to start saving early on a game for children, not only in your schools, but even in your home.”

As adults set New Year’s resolutions to save more in 2023, Yee hopes adults include children in those conversations. She suggested starting that monetary education by “walking the walk” and helping children learn what it takes to save.

“If you are, for instance, saving for a vacation that's coming up, bring your children into that activity,” Yee said.

Yee said she has her own children do chores around the house so they can appreciate the work that goes into earning money.

“And it's not just [the idea that] money grows on trees,” Yee said. “And so as we keep our money, we actually save it in a little Ziploc bag, so they can see the money as it grows.”

She also encouraged matching children in their savings goals.

“So, you have your child earn their money, and let's just say it's $5 that month,” Yee said. “Well, you could say, ‘Well, if you really want to help out a little more, I'll match that same amount and you can double your earnings.’”

Throughout the saving process, letting kids spend that money, albeit mindfully, is just as important.

“Taking them to the dollar store is a perfect way because they can see each dollar spent per item,” Yee said.

Yee takes her own children to the dollar store, she said.

“After a while, the inventory is the same and so they get a little bored. And so, they will ask me, ‘Well, mommy, if I save for a little longer, can I get a bigger toy at a different store?’” She said, “And that is exactly what we want to teach them. It's that delayed gratification to ensure that they understand that it takes patience and time to be able to get that bigger thing.”

Yee also recommends making the act of saving fun for children. For example, she explained, spending the day picking out or painting a piggy bank serves two purposes.

“That becomes a personal item for them to have proudly placed on their sh

elf,” Yee said. “And as they put their money in, they know that that is something that really was a family experience, and it made it fun.”

While it’s important to teach kids how to succeed in saving, Yee also noted the importance of letting them fail – when it is age appropriate.

“These are maybe for your older children. As they approach high school, they may be starting to use a phone,” Yee said.

Just as adults make cell phone payments, she said, teaching high-school-aged kids about a monthly cell phone bill, and what happens if that payment is missed, is foundational to learning.


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