Money is often a taboo subject in society, so the more we talk about money with our children, the more our children are likely to be open to talking about money and it’s never too early to start. Talking about money is one of the most important topics of conversation that you can have with your children.
When children start primary school it is a perfect time for teaching them about money as they are learning addition, subtraction and other mathematical skills. We know that it may be easier to do the shopping or order the groceries online without their involvement, but such activities are golden opportunities to establish some important accounting skills, such as budgeting and saving, even with five to seven year olds.
As children get older, they can begin to make some decisions about money, such as deciding how to spend their pocket money, save for those new trainers or even helping you decide how to spend while on holiday. Rather like changing the assumption that milk comes from cows rather than supermarkets, there is a need for children to learn that money isn’t freely ‘on tap’ from Mum and Dad and at cash machines.
Talk to them and involve them in making decisions together about spending and saving.
Here are some tips on ways to use family experiences to teach your children about money:
- Play games that involve teaching children about money. Board games such as Monopoly and playing at ‘shops’ can be fun ways to do this. By playing Monopoly children can learn quickly and, of course, enjoy making their parents adults bankrupt!
- Regularly take your children shopping. Tell them what your budget is and make a game of buying what you need under that set amount, including spotting good value deals on the supermarket shelves.
- Talk to them about work. It’s good for children to understand why you need to work . Explain that you go to work to make money, which allows you to buy food, pay for the house, go on holiday, and the ‘hidden’ costs such as electricity to charge their tech. It’s also good to talk about work in everyday situations, like saying, “Mum can’t pick you up from school today because she’ll be at work’’. Children will quickly learn the importance of work and the reasons for it. Consider explaining to older children that at the moment during the Covid-19 pandemic some workers have had to be furloughed resulting in less pay or reduce their hours and consequently pay and how this impacts on what the family can spend at the moment.
- Consider paying pocket money so that children earn and look after their own money. It can also be a much better lesson if they have to earn it first by doing some jobs around the house!
- Encourage children to save. This can be easier if they know what they are saving for and why. Saving for something they want or to give to a charity, will work better than just telling them to save for the future.
- Children are often keen to work on their own Christmas present list, but this can work better if they have an idea what the likely price limits are for presents. If Uncle Bob only ever spends £10 on a present, the Christmas list should reflect that, and even Santa usually has budgetary constraints!
- Teach your children how to talk about money – simple things like not boasting about money or possessions. They may also need to learn to be discreet and not to ask too many questions about other peoples money or earnings.
Explain about debit and credit cards as children won’t often see you pay in cash or write out a cheque. Let them know that cards are not magic pieces of plastic and that you don’t just swipe it and get things for free. Also explain that anything bought on a credit card has to be paid off at the end of the month, otherwise interest will be added and the debt rolls up.