Children need to start learning about money from a young age. Whether it’s the budgeting skills we need to cope with the cost-of-living crisis or the long-term planning that helps buy a house and save for retirement, the attitudes we pick up in childhood help shape the decisions we make for the rest of our lives.
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on schools to tell your child what they need to know. Personal finance lessons are not compulsory in primary schools and not all secondary schools teach crucial skills either. So, if you want them to grow up financially savvy, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands.
First, get started early. Children as young as seven can grasp the value of money, how to count it and what it means to earn money and exchange it for goods, says a study for the government’s MoneyHelper service (formerly the Money Advice Service). They can understand that you sometimes have to wait and save for things and that some choices are irreversible, say the authors, who are behaviour experts at the University of Cambridge. But they may need to be a little older before they appreciate the difference between luxuries and necessities.
The power of pocket money
The study found that allowing children to make age-appropriate decisions about their money can help them create positive habits. You can start with children as young as three or four, by giving them pocket money and letting them decide how they spend it.
“Once they are old enough not to put it in their mouth, then give them some money,” says Juliette Collier of the charity Campaign for Learning tells The Guardian. “If, for example, they end up wanting to spend that money on sweeties, then make it clear they can’t spend the money on something else. Let them make choices, and experience the consequences.” Introduce the idea of saving and show children that they may need to save their pocket money for a few weeks if they want to make a larger purchase. You could encourage them by offering to pay them a bonus if they save a certain amount.
An introduction to investing
As children get older, expand the topics. Teenagers can learn about investing through their Junior individual savings accounts (Jisas). If they have an investment Jisa, talk to them about what it is invested in and why. From the age of 16 they can make investment decisions about their account, but they can’t withdraw the money until they are 18. This could be a good opportunity to let them make some decisions about their investments.
It’s important to show them all the different assets they can invest in, such as stocks and bonds, as well as ways to do so, such as funds, investment trusts and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Doing this will reduce the chance that their first experience is with cryptocurrencies or other high-risk markets.
Before your child lives away from home for the first time, they need to learn about budgeting. Help them make a list of all their regular incomings and outgoings, such as subscriptions. Show them how much they spend each month then look at how much they have coming in. This is also a good time to discuss saving regular amounts for emergencies. Don’t forget to explain how tax and pensions affect your income. Show them your payslip so they can see how much of a wage is deducted for national insurance, income tax, and pension payments.
Finally, teach your child about debt. Discuss debts you may have, such as credit cards or a mortgage. Show them how the interest rate on debt is much higher than on savings. Explain how not repaying debts on time can affect your credit rating and your ability to borrow in the future. These lessons will hopefully help them avoid problem debts in the future.
Source: How to make your child a financial whizz | MoneyWeek by
“Instilling great money management behaviour in your children does not have to be an arduous exercise. You can help them learn by implementing a few key changes in and around your home,” Steward says.
Teach them budgeting by example – Include your children in family budget discussions from an early age. In older generations, money was often a taboo topic and not considered suitable for polite conversation. Break the cycle by talking to your children about money choices. For example, you could discuss how much money you saved over the lockdown period by eating at home, rather than eating out. Or talk to them about the monthly electricity bill and the cost of using your tumble-dryer in winter months.
Pay them in cash – You may give your child an allowance or expect them to do chores in return for a small payment. Either way, pay them in cash and then help them allocate those funds towards different costs. This is a great time to teach them Elizabeth Warren’s 50/20/30 budget rule. You could charge your children a 10% tax so that they learn the pain of being taxed early on. Warren’s rule is to divide up your after-tax income and allocate it as follows: 50% on needs (what you have to spend money on, for example, make them buy their own airtime), 30% on wants (such as the latest Playstation game), and 20% to savings. This will also open up the discussion about learning to differentiate between needs and wants.
Play money games – Learning can be fun. Include money games in family time. Monopoly is a game of luck but players also learn valuable lessons about the balance between spending and saving. The Game of Life starts each player out with a sum of money and as you advance through the game, you quickly learn that the players who choose to study are likely to have higher paying jobs and finish life on a more secure financial footing.
Take your children grocery shopping – This is less about the treats they can sneak into the trolley and more about teaching them to compare prices and shop wisely. Sometimes buying two 500g packets of pasta can work out cheaper than buying a 1kg packet of pasta. The lower-priced items are usually placed on the lowest shelves while the higher-priced items are at eye-level. When you spot a “special” sign, find out what the special is – sometimes, it’s simply the regular price with a special sticker on it.
Teach them about opportunity costs. Children are typically wired for instant gratification. Opportunity cost is simply the consequence of your financial choice, but very few people, let alone children think this far ahead. Spell it out for them until they start thinking differently. For example, “if you spend your money on this video game, you won’t be able to afford the wireless keyboard you wanted to buy next month.”….
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