Nurturing Finance

Explaining Compound Interest to a Child in Simple Terms

Have you ever wondered how teaching your child about compound interest can set them up for financial success later in life? When explained well, it’s a crucial concept that can empower children with a deep understanding of how money grows over time. So, how do you explain compound interest to a child?

You can use a simple and relatable example to teach your child about interest on interest. Here’s how you can explain it:

  • Use a Familiar Example: Start with something they understand, like their allowance. Say they save $10, and you promise to give them an extra 10% of whatever they save each year.
  • Break Down the Numbers: Explain that at the end of the first year, they earn an additional $1 (which is 10% of $10), making their total savings $11.
  • Show Growth Over Time: Then, tell them in the second year, they don’t just earn another $1. Instead, they earn 10% of their new total, which is $11. So, they get an extra $1.10, making their savings $12.10.
  • Visualize the Process: You might use drawings or coins to visualize how the amount increases each year due to the interest earned the previous year.
  • Reinforce the Concept: Emphasize that the longer they leave their money saved, the more it grows because each year, they’re earning extra money on the new, larger amount, not just the original savings.

how do you explain compound interest to a child

Let’s explore more ways to explain compound interest to a child using simple terms and relatable analogies. Compound interest is more than just a financial term—it’s an essential tool that can teach your child the value of saving and patience, ensuring they develop sound financial habits early on. By understanding the difference between simple and compound interest, kids can understand how saving money can lead to exponential growth due to “interest on interest.”

Key Takeaways

  • Explain compound interest to a child using simple terms and analogies related to their daily lives.
  • Teach your child how money can grow exponentially over time through interest on interest.
  • Compound Interest = Interest on your original savings + interest on the interest earned.
  • Using activities and games can help kids accrue interest in an interactive way.
  • Setting up a savings system with clear goals can instill good financial habits in children.
  • Incorporate relatable examples to make the concept of interest to a child understandable and relatable.
  • Magic Trick: The longer you save, the more your money grows, just like magic!

Understanding the Basic Concept of Interest

Interest is the cost of borrowing money or the reward for saving and investing. It’s crucial to know this to understand how our money can grow and the costs of taking a loan. We need to start by understanding basic interest before we move on to more complex methods.

What is Interest?

Interest is the fee paid by those borrowing money or the earnings for those saving or lending. When we save in a bank, the bank uses our money and gives us interest. When we take a loan, we pay the lender interest as a fee.

Compound interest at work

How Simple Interest Works

Simple interest comes from the basic amount you saved or borrowed. If you save $1,000 at 5% interest, you make $50 a year. This is easy to figure out. But compound interest is different. It includes the added interest from the past, making your money grow faster. Understanding these types helps us make smarter money choices.

Interest Type Calculation Method Growth Rate
Simple Interest Calculated on the principal amount only Linear, fixed growth
Compound Interest Calculated on the principal and accumulated interest Exponential, faster growth

In short, knowing about interest helps us make money by saving or lending while also teaching us about borrowing costs. This knowledge is the first step to understanding more complex financial ideas and increasing our financial wisdom.

What Is Compound Interest?

Accrued interest is a key part of finance that helps our savings grow big over time. It’s vital for both financial planning and education. We set ourselves up for better future finances by learning how interest on interest works.

Definition of Compound Interest

Compound interest is interest on the main amount you deposit or loan out, plus interest from before. So, we make money on our original deposit and on the interest it gathers. This can boost our savings significantly as time goes by.

Difference Between Simple and Compound Interest

Basic interest is just on the starting amount, while compound interest includes interest on the interest. Accrued interest builds up quicker, boosting your money more since it’s added to the main sum on a regular basis1. For instance, with basic interest on $100 at 5%, you get $5 a year. But with interest on interest, that $5 adds to the $100, making your annual earnings grow.

Interest Type Principal Amount Interest Rate Time (Years) Total Amount
Simple Interest $100 5% 10 $150
Compound Interest $100 5% 10 $162.89

Why Compound Interest is More Powerful

Compound interest has the power to grow our savings significantly over time. At 7%, it can double our money every ten years2. This illustrates why it’s often called the most powerful force in finance. Albert Einstein even praised it as the “eighth wonder of the world.” We can supercharge our savings using accrued interest and ensure a better financial future.

Compound Effect.

The rule of 72 gives us a quick way to figure out when our money will double with accrued interest divided by 72 by the interest rate. For a 7% rate, our money doubles in roughly ten years (72/7 = ~10 years)2. This shows compound interest’s significant benefits over basic interest.

Even at a low 5% interest, interest on interest can greatly grow your savings over time. Talking about interest with kids can really help improve their financial knowledge. It puts them on track to making wise financial choices early on. Knowing about accrued interest is essential for anyone wanting to maximize their savings. With this knowledge, we can secure our future and our children’s.

The Magic of Compound Interest: An Easy Explanation

Compound interest is like a magic trick that grows your money. It’s very exciting for kids to learn about. We can show them with simple pictures and stories. This way, they can understand how saving a little money now can lead to a big amount later on.

Compound Interest Visualization

To teach kids about interest on interest, we start with images. Imagine a graph showing how money grows in a savings account with a 5% rate. Using the Rule of 72, this graph can show that money at 5% interest doubles in over 14 years2. This picture helps kids see how waiting can make their money much more fun later.

Child Learning.

Real-life Examples Children Can Relate To

Real stories can make complex ideas simple for kids. Let’s take the “Bank of Treats Waiting Game” as an example. It shows how saving treats over time is better than taking them all at once. The same is true for interest on interest; it gains more by waiting longer.

Then, there’s the “Compound Interest Marathon.” It helps kids see that saving and being patient pays off. Parents can also try the “Double the Penny Challenge.” This game shows how quickly money multiplies through accrued interest just by doubling it all the time.

With these fun examples and easy pictures, teaching kids about compound interest is easy. It helps them see how their small savings now can lead to big money later. This knowledge is precious. It teaches kids good money habits for life. And it’s all because of the magic of compound interest.

The Marshmallow Test: Teaching Delayed Gratification

In the 1960s, Stanford University psychologist Walter Mischel conducted an experiment. This test showed how some kids could wait to eat a marshmallow. They knew they’d get a second one if they did. This experiment teaches us a lot about delayed gratification. It’s about holding off for a bigger, better reward later on. This skill is important, like when we talk to kids about compound interest. The lesson is clear—patience pays off, literally.

About 653 little kids aged three to five took part in Mischel’s study. It was a fun game for them but also a lesson. They learned that waiting could lead to more. This experiment is much like teaching children about money. We want them to see that waiting can bring bigger financial benefits.

Walter Mischel

One great way to teach kids about delayed gratification is through the “yummy treat game.”3 In this game, kids learn compounding by delaying a treat now for a bigger one later. This game helps them see the value of being patient. It also shows them how saving and investing early can make their money grow.

Parents can do hands-on activities with real money in a piggy bank to explain saving3. This helps kids understand interest on interest in a real and fun way. As they understand these basic ideas, they can move to more complex games with play money. These games teach kids about how to invest. They can learn about businesses and watch their “money” grow.

Start simple and then add difficulty to the money lessons. This is how kids learn about compound interest and patience3. By gradually making things harder, children get a deep understanding. They’ll be ready to handle their finances wisely in the future.

How Do You Explain Compound Interest to a Child?

Teaching accrued interest to a child is easy. Just use simple everyday objects and scenarios. Make it fun and relatable, so they’re excited to learn.

Using Everyday Objects and Scenarios

Start by using familiar things like coins or treats. Let’s say you begin with $100. If it earns 4% interest, you’d have $1044 after a year. This shows how interest adds more money over time.


Imagine adding coins to a piggy bank daily. Add a coin each day, with the amount growing by 5%. This simple act shows how money grows with compound interest.

Engaging Activities to Illustrate the Concept

Fun activities help kids grasp compound interest. Try an activity with treats. Give them a small candy and more to eat while waiting to eat it. It teaches patience and the value of waiting for a bigger advantage.

Using an accrued interest calculator app is also fun. Show them how saving £100 a year grows with 5% interest. They’ll see how starting to save early pays off.

Setting up a family bank at home is another good idea. Offer a 10% interest on their savings. They’ll learn that more savings can mean much more money over time.

Fun Activities to Teach Kids About Compound Interest

Learning about accrued interest can be fun. Kids need to know about saving money and how it grows. We’ll show you some fun games to make interest on interest easy to understand.

Children activities

Bank of Treats Waiting Game

The Bank of Treats Waiting Game is great for kids 4-11 years old. It teaches them about patience and how waiting can lead to more. Kids start with a few treats but can get more if they wait. This helps them see how interest grows over time.

Compound Interest Marathon

The Compound Interest Marathon is for kids 8-13. It shows how money can grow over time with accrued interest. Using simple charts, you can explain how a $10,000 investment can turn into over $1,600 in three years. This activity makes interest on interest clear and exciting for this age group.

Double the Penny Challenge

The Double the Penny Challenge is perfect for teenagers aged 13-18. It starts with just one penny, doubling it each day. This shows how wealth can quickly increase with accrued interest. It’s a great hands-on way to understand exponential growth.

Piggy Bank on coins

Using games like the Bank of Treats Waiting Game, Compound Interest Marathon, and Double the Penny Challenge helps kids learn easily. They’ll get the idea and see the benefits of saving and earning over time.

Best Places to Find Compound Interest

  1. High-Yield Savings Accounts: Online bank accounts with higher interest rates.

  2. Certificates of Deposit (CDs): Bank accounts with fixed interest for a set time.

  3. Money Market Accounts: Savings accounts with better interest rates, sometimes with check-writing.

  4. Retirement Accounts (IRAs and 401(k)s): Accounts for retirement that grow faster due to compound interest.

  5. Investment Accounts (Mutual Funds, ETFs, Stocks): Accounts where your money can grow a lot over time, but with higher risk.

  6. Bonds: Loans to companies or the government that pay you interest.

  7. Education Savings Accounts (529 Plans): Accounts for saving for education that grow tax-free.

  8. Peer-to-Peer Lending Platforms: Websites where you can lend money to others and earn interest.


Frequently Asked Questions for How to Explain Compound Interest to a Child?


1. What is compound interest?

Compound interest refers to the interest that’s earned not only on the initial amount of money you save or invest but also on the interest that money earns over time. It’s like a magic money-growing machine!

2. How does compound interest work?

When you put money in a savings account, it earns interest over time. With accrued interest, the interest you earn also starts earning interest. This causes your money to grow faster than with basic interest.

3. Why is compound interest important to understand?

Understanding interest on interest can help you learn how to make your money grow faster. It shows the power of saving and investing early, as the longer your money stays invested, the more it can grow through compounding.

4. How can I explain compound interest to my child?

Teach your child about compound interest by showing how money can grow over time when it earns interest. Use examples like putting money in a savings account or investing in a fund that earns accrued interest.

5. Can you give an example of compound interest for kids?

Sure! Let’s say your child saves $10 in a piggy bank that earns 5% annual interest. After the first year, they’ll have $10.50. In the second year, they’ll earn interest not just on $10 but on $10.50, and so on.

6. How does compound interest differ from simple interest?

With basic interest, you only earn interest on the initial money you saved. Compound interest lets you earn interest not only on the original amount but also on the interest that accumulates over time.

7. Why is understanding compound interest a valuable lesson for kids?

Teaching kids about accrued interest helps them grasp the concept of delayed gratification. They learn that saving and investing can lead to larger rewards over time, promoting wise financial habits.

8. How can parents help their children understand compound interest?

Parents can explain the concept of compound interest by using everyday examples and involving kids in discussions about money matters. Encourage them to set savings goals and watch their money grow.

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