MassMutual, a financial advisory group based in Springfield, Mass., developed Save! The Game, an app for the iPad and iPhone that teaches kids the difference between wants and needs—a critical financial lesson, says Pearl.
Also, don't disregard old-fashioned board games. The Game of Life, for example, teaches kids about the various expenses they'll encounter from college to retirement. Another favorite is the Allowance Game, in which kids go around the board doing chores and collecting an allowance, then spend their earnings on the things they want.
However, Simunovic of ThreeJars.com expressed one concern: "I'm not a huge believer that games are going to teach our kids a whole lot about the way money is used in the real world."
Empower them to manage their own money. Let your child play an active role in how money is used by offering them an allowance. But consistency is important: Many parents promise an allowance to their kids but don't deliver. If parents forget to pay the allowance, children learn that money promises can be broken. Beacham says this can potentially lead the child to think somewhere down the road, "Hmm, maybe I don't have to pay my credit-card bill on time this month."
Pearl adds that while an allowance can be tied to certain household chores, it shouldn't be used to discourage bad behavior (i.e., for every day you don't kick your brother, I'll give you $1).
Encourage them to give back. Giving to charity is fun for kids because they are instinctual givers, says Beacham. In addition to having your child donate money (to a charity of their choice), make philanthropy more enjoyable by getting the whole family involved. Volunteer together at the local soup kitchen or participate in a fundraiser at the neighborhood park.
Above all, don't be afraid to talk to your kids about money. Says Godfrey: "Our kids see us handling money every day, but we often forget to talk to them about what we're doing."