How Pets Can Teach Kids Financial Lessons

Financial Responsibility, Parenting | Friday, August 31st, 2018


Pets can teach our children a number of important life lessons, including how to love and care for someone who is dependent on our care, patience and a good sense of responsibility.

As it turns out, our four-legged friends can also help teach our children some pretty important lessons about money. While financial concepts can be hard for kids to grasp, using tangible examples involving pets can help them understand how much it costs to care for and raise a cat or dog.

As a bonus, talking about money with kids can help inspire them to be smarter with their finances; as a 2017 Parents, Kids & Money survey notes, 64 percent of parents who discuss financial matters with their children at least once a week are more likely to have kiddos who are savvy about money.

So with this in mind, let’s look at some ways that we can incorporate Fluffy or Fido into financial lessons.

Show them that pets require a large initial investment

Depending on their ages, your kids might assume that dog and cat food are the main things you need to buy for your pets. If this is the case, show them that a big responsibility like a family pet involves a great deal of other expenses that they might not have considered. For instance, if you have a cat or two, you could explain that they also need litter boxes in which to do their business. Sit down with your kiddos and show them how much it costs to buy a new cat litter box. To bring home the point, have some real bills and coins with you and have your child help you count out this amount and set it aside. Now that you have them thinking about one major pet supply, ask your kiddos to think of other important types of kitty and pooch paraphernalia and research the costs of things like leashes, collars, food bowls and more, counting out the actual money each time.

Explain that pets have a lot of on-going expenses

Now that your kids have a fairly decent idea of what it costs for basic pet supplies, you can move on to the prices of their ongoing care. Going back to dog and cat food, start with this important staple and explain how much you pay each week to keep your pets in kibbles and wet food. Bring out the bag of dog food, let your kids know how much it cost and have them count out the amount in real money. Then do the same for a can of cat food or dog food. If you would like, bring out some of the foods from the pantry that your children love to eat and have them compare the prices; for instance, that bag of cookies that they love may cost the same as one large can of dog food. As The Simple Dollar notes, medical and grooming costs are also on-going expenses for pets; this includes trips to the vet, flea and tick medication, and regular vaccinations. Show your kids the most current bill from the vet and explain how the latest round of shots cost about the same as what you paid for their new soccer uniforms and shoes.

Keep on talking about money

Financial discussions with kids shouldn’t be “one and done” types of talks. Make the on-going cost of pet care a regular topic of conversation and encourage your kids to ask questions and make suggestions. When it’s time to shop for some new supplies, ask your kids to help you find some great deals and praise them for pointing out when Fido’s favorite kibbles go on sale. All of this should help your kids not only understand more about money, but also what it takes to adopt and raise your precious four-legged family members.


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