Learning how to manage and respect money starts at an early age. Learn how to equip your kids with essential money management skills while they’re young before they set off from home…
Introduce them to money
When they’re young, try to introduce your children to the concept of currency and exchanging one item of value for another. When you’re at the sweet shop, let them try out some simple maths and handle actual currency – and let them tag along with you to the bank.
Things can get confusing in today’s world, saturated as it is with technology and gadgets, and it’s not always clear when something’s free or not. Lots of parents have opened their credit card bill to discover huge amounts have been taken out because their little ones have unwittingly being making in-app purchases when playing so-called free games. Try to teach them to be aware of these added charges — and manage the tablet or phone’s settings so they can’t spend your money accidentally just in case.
Teach my example
Try not to live by the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ school of thought. Children are scarily perceptive and pick up on far more than we realise. In fact, the Money Advice Service warns that kids pick up money habits from their parents before their eighth birthday.
If you’re constantly splurging on things at the start of the month and are scrimping later on or are overly cautious about spending, they will pick up on it and are likely to repeat your mistakes when they’re older.
The value of work
One of the most important concepts you’ll want them to grasp is that they have to put effort into something to get something back in return. Instead of handing over pocket money liberally, ask them to help out around the house in return. You don’t have to work them to the bone – simple chores like helping you fold the laundry or taking them to pick strawberries from a farm for dessert will do the trick.
When they’re old enough, encourage them to get a summer job. That first paycheck will soon make them realise that hard work really does pay, and they’ll get a sense of purpose and achievement too. Just make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of their schoolwork, as that should always be their top priority.
Sharing and charity
It’s always a good idea to teach them that their money can do good for other people too. Get them involved in picking a charity and show them how it’s benefitting the cause so they learn not to hoard all their money for themselves.
The value of saving
If kids have access to a limitless amount of toys and fun and never have to go without, they’ll never learn the value of saving and delayed gratification.
There’s no need to deprive them too much, but sit them down and talk to them about what sort of things they might want. Then ask them to prioritise their list and work out when they might be able to buy the things most important to them based on their allowance or savings. They may not be able to afford an entire train set, but they can buy a train and a few pieces to start them off.
Make them credit conscious
If they want something but don’t have enough pocket money, you could agree to lend it to them as long as they save up money and pay you back (or pay you with extra chores). But it’s important that they know that it’s a loan and not a gift, so help them understand the difference.
Make it fun
To keep them interested, try playing a game of Monopoly together. It doesn’t reflect the way things work in real life 100% accurately, but it will help them understand most things come with a price tag.
When they’re very young, buy them an old fashioned piggy bank and take them to the shops to buy a treat when they’ve put enough into it. And Disney game The Big Piggy Bank Adventure will teach them financial skills through a fun online game.
When they’re teenagers
Research by charity pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) to mark My Money Week has highlighted that many under 25s have set off in the world with a dangerous lack of financial awareness.
A staggering 42% couldn’t even tell if their bank statement showed that they were overdrawn or not and more than a third didn’t understand the interest rate charges on their loans or credit cards. Once they turn 18, your kids will be targeted by banks who will try to seduce them with credit cards and extended overdrafts, so it’s important to teach them about the risks while they’re still at home.
Plan for their financial future
Start looking out for their financial future as early on as possible by opening a bank account in their name and thinking about how they’ll be taken care of when you’re not around. Access Legal by Shoosmiths offers parents legal advice on making a will and issues like inheritance tax and what debts may be passed on to your children when you die.
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