Here’s a secret, having money isn’t quite as important as making money – at least not until you’re rich. And to make money, you have to be able to understand money values and how to combine them. It’s ok if you get overwhelmed by numbers. Plenty of people do. Just remember to take your time and give yourself room to grow. We’ll start with some basic steps you can take to get used to handling money, and from there, we’ll move into slightly harder challenges.
Step 1: Learn the Value of Coins and Dollars
The good news is learning coin values can be done at home, and you only need a few minutes a day. There are a few different ways to master coin values – here are three that we recommend.
Coin snake has many names, and it can be repurposed to be played as a game with family and friends. But the simplest way to use the Coin Snake is to line up your coins in order of value. This means pennies will be the tail, and dollar coins (if you have them) will be the head. Coin Snake gets you used to handling actual physical coins and is simple enough that you can play it anywhere you are. For an extra challenge, add up all the coins in your snake to see how much your Coin Snake is worth.
U.S. Mint is a game where you draw coins produced by the U.S. Mint. The key is to draw them as realistically as possible. The best part of the U.S. Mint is you can use the coins you make to play other money math games like Coin Snake or Storefront.
Storefront is an oldie but a goodie. You play the role of a business owner and sell items to customers. Admittedly, Storefront can be a bit tricky as you’ll have to keep track of dozens of transactions. But it’s great for building real-world money skills.
Once you learn money values like the back of your hand, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Sort Your Money
Sorting your money involves figuring out how much money you will take with you, leave at home, and more. Just so you know, there’s rarely a reason to keep all of your money on your person. That means you’ll need to consider where you’re going and what you’ll buy while you’re there. Do you pay for school lunch? Bring enough money for that and snacks. Is your family on vacation? Figure out how much you want to spend per day on gifts, food, etc.
Step 3: Start With The Biggest Values and Start Counting!
Now it’s time to start actually counting money. If you played Storefront, you’d have some experience here and if not, then now is a great time to give it a go. But all you really need is money or play money to begin counting. Start with the bigger values and count your way down.
Step 4: Skip Counting
It’s almost impossible to stress the importance of being able to skip count. Skip counting involves multiplying the like values of your bills by the amount you have. For example, 5 x $20.00 = $100.00 is easier math than adding $20.00 five times. Skip counting speeds up the overall counting process and makes transactions that much smoother.
Step 5: Practice
Practice is essential to mastering any skill. That’s especially true for money math since you’ll need it often. Clear at least 5-10 minutes every day to count money and work out combinations, and before long, you’ll have it down. Here are ways you can practice counting money at home.
How to Practice Counting Money
Here are some of the best ways to practice counting money.
Flashcards are an easy way to test your money math skills. Write individual values on the back of a card and the name of the coin or cash on the front. You can use the flashcards as a memory game or as a way to add up basic values.
For more advanced use of flashcards, shuffle the deck, pull out the 10 random cards, and then set a timer. The faster you can accurately count, the better!
Worksheets give you money math problems that range from easy to more complex. As someone learning money math, it’s your job to solve all of them. You can print a few pages from the internet or buy a worksheets book. One of the biggest pros of worksheets is that they’ll offer a variety of money math equations that you’ll actually have in real life!
Money Math Word Problems
Story problems offer the same money math equations as worksheets but with one big difference. They provide an engaging narrative. For example, Tom purchases three apples. If all the apples cost 2.99, how much does Tom owe?
If you’re the kind of kid who loses interest in money math because the page is full of numbers, then story and word problems might help. They give you a character and a situation to think about to make it easier to grasp the numbers.
There are plenty of online game resources you can use to practice money math. In fact, there are so many that we’d have to dedicate a whole article to cover all of them. You can start with the actual U.S. Mint website. It has a bunch of fun and active games you can play!
There are plenty of video channels you can use to practice money math. Videos are a great resource that resembles a classroom, but it’s all within your control. Do you need something repeated, press rewind. Are you working your way through a money problem? Pause the video and figure it out. Plus, video resources are great if you get bad feelings about asking questions around other kids.
Asking your parents to help you with money math is the perfect way to spend quality time and better understand money math. For the most part, adults are way better at money math than kids and can give you really great insight into what works for them.
Learning how to count money is super fun and essential for growing up. As a kid, you have all the time you need to practice, and if you use your resources, it’ll be easy to totally master counting money.
Kids’ Money is an excellent resource for that; you can check out other articles here.