Habits are formed early
Whenever you did your first dance with the almighty dollar,
chances are that the way you think about money today has a lot to do with those
habits you learned as a child.
In 2020, adulting is tough, with younger generations often
struggling to scrape together enough for their first car, never mind the deposit
for a house. So, what happens when it's time to teach your own kids the value
of a buck?
The-current-situation-which-must-not-be-named has given the
luckiest of us more time at home with our children. If your kitchen has
suddenly become a makeshift classroom, now could be the perfect time to help
your little monsters understand the real value of money – and set them up with
some good tips and tricks to get them on their way.
Ditch the polka dot pig
I mean, no need to smash it with a hammer (who even does that?),
but let's be honest, that misshapen, monocle-wearing pig you made in Year 8 Art
isn't all the fun it's 'cracked' up to be. The latest generation of pimped up piggy banks are a variety of digital tools to help you teach your children about money. Split into three
compartments, smart piggybanks encourage children to 'Save' as a lifelong habit,
'Spend' within their means, and 'Share' to make a difference to others.
Key lesson: Saving money on things you don't need gives you
more for the things you really want.
2. Point out which of their fav TV characters are good with
While we're on the subject of pigs… You may not see Peppa handing
over money for that hot air balloon ride, but it's worth pointing out that
Mummy Pig is probably digging for her purse somewhere in the background – and
you just know that Hogwarts scholarship is costing someone a pretty penny. Whether
it's a Disney princess saving money to open her own restaurant or Mr Krabs
taking every lost penny out of Spongebob's pay check, TV is full of money
lessons for kids. Be sure to point out both positive and negative examples as
you see them crop up.
Key lesson: In real life everything costs money.
3. Give them little tasks to earn their pocket money
An oldie, but a goodie. Children are natural entrepreneurs.
Whether it's tidying away their breakfast things, helping you with the
gardening or simply putting away their shoes, giving older children responsibilities
to earn their pocket money is a great way to start building good financial
habits at an early age. Soon, they will be fleecing you for everything you've
got – but at least you won't have so much clutter on the stairs.
Key lesson: Hard work pays off.
4. Appy chappies
Apps are a great way to show them how money, if earned and
saved over time, can help them achieve their goals (things may have moved on
since the days of circling things in the Argos laminated book of dreams, but
don't be disappointed if their goals are mostly toys). Some apps allow little
users to track their monthly allowance, while others see chores rewarded via a
virtual piggybank. Pingit lets you split your money into virtual jars. Create one for your child's pocket money
(you can let them give it a silly name), and top it up with cash from your main
account. You can let them know how much is in it and even attach their jar to a
card to spend with them. You could even share a payment link with family and friends
so they can put money straight into your child's jar.
Key lesson: Technology can be used to help us make smarter spending decisions.
5. Teach them to budget
Get your children involved in paying for daily essentials. Using
cash isn't advised at the moment, but normally, having a week where you only
use cash and letting your child count out coins at the counter is a great way
to teach them to budget. During the pandemic, you might need to get a little
more creative. Set a food budget with them for the week, and convert pounds
into jelly beans. Each time you go shopping, discuss how many “jelly beans" you
have to spend – and what you need to buy most, as well as the value of
individual items. Let them eat the spent jelly beans after each shop, put any
“change" back in the jar, and they will soon come to appreciate the benefits of
spreading their spending throughout the week.
Key lesson: When it's gone, it's gone.
6. Make money go further
If there's something your kids really want to do, say a day
out when lockdown finishes, agree – so long as they plan and stick to a budget
for it. By looking at all the costs in advance, they'll find they can make
their money go much further, setting them up for all those nights out and
holidays they will plan when they finally fly the nest.
Key lesson: Getting more for your money takes planning.
7. Go easy on them
Some people want to protect their children from the pressures
of money and adulthood – after all, they've got all the time in the world for
such things. If making money a part of casual conversation is all enough for
you, that's ok. If they want to spend all their money on magazines, that's ok
too. There's lots of time for them to learn.
Key lesson: Chilllllll...