There’s nothing like a good joke to break the ice, especially when we’re talking about an intimidating topic like money.
So, when Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon said she’d collaborate with me on a video to teach kids financial basics—a subject that makes most adults break into a cold sweat—I knew it’d be hilarious and helpful.
When the day of the shoot came—let me be honest with you—I was pretty nervous. Pretty crazy, after a career of TV appearances and working with some A-list names from President Obama to Bruno Mars to Elmo.
I was starstruck, but I wasn’t worried about Kate making the leap from Not Ready for Primetime to personal finance PSA. She isn’t just a comic genius—she’s darn smart about money too. Kate said her parents talked about money, particularly investments, with her when she was growing up.
One thing she didn’t have much experience with? Little kids. She confessed that this was the first time working with them, which was hard to believe because the moment she walked on-set, her three junior co-stars were smitten. And they were too little to have seen SNL.
Whether she’s making the kids giggle about loans or crack up about credit cards, Kate delivers smart advice in the video with more than a touch of comic genius. And just in time for April’s Financial Literacy Month. (You marked your calendar, right?)
Watch and learn about the bizarre places kids keep money—and the strange ways they expect to earn a living when they grow up. (What’s a “gagitator”?)
Beyond the laughs lies an important message: With kids’ money habits set by age 7, teaching our children the financial facts of life early is no joke.
Here are three simple ways to help your kids be smart about money in everyday moments:
Lesson #1: You get money by working.
How to teach it: Money can seem like magic to kids, especially when we use cards or apps. So it’s important to explain that it doesn’t appear out of thin air. You work hard to earn the money to pay for food, clothes, and everything else. Talk about the different jobs people have—teacher, doctor, firefighter. And if you can, take your child to work this month. It will be fun for you—and an eye-opener for your kid.
Lesson #2: You need to wait and save up for something you want.
How to teach it: Show them how patience pays off. We wait for our turn on the swings. We wait for our birthday. Encourage your kid to forgo small purchases (candy, stickers) and instead put cash in a piggybank to save up for a bigger toy (a real ukulele!) he or she really wants.
Lesson #3: Buy what you need before you buy what you want.
How to teach it: While you’re shopping, point out the differences between needs and wants: “We need milk and veggies; we want chocolate milk and potato chips.” Then it’s your kid’s turn. As you walk down the aisles, ask: “Want or need?” Needs go in the cart. All but one or two wants stay on the shelves. (Everyone gets a prize just for playing!)
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