Speaking to children about money

The School of Mum and Dad

What’s the one thing you wished you had learned in school? Quadratic equations? An ability to recite the complete works of Shakespeare? For many the answer is simple – an understanding of money – and is it really any surprise? A subject which touches everyone’s everyday lives, whether top or bottom of the class.

Habits formed as young as seven

Young children learn from the behaviours they see around them. Research has shown children’s money habits are formed as young as seven, long before formal money education at secondary school. As many of us can attest, it is easier to establish positive habits which stay with us as we grow, than kick bad habits in the later life. Prevention is better than cure and it is never too soon to start talking about money.

Changing face of finance

Once upon a time starting a money conversation with children was as simple as saving money in a piggy bank. Today, online and card payments outnumber cash transactions and pocket money often goes unseen. The pressure to spend is ever more sophisticated too, from social media influencers to targeted digital advertising. As technology provides easy access to credit and spending at the touch of a button, never has the need to educate young people about money been so great.

Help is on hand

How can we ensure the next generation are ready to face their financial futures with confidence? Helping children and young people establish good money habits is the inspiration behind Moneyready. The independent, online financial education programme brings money to life through interactive activities, stories, games, videos and quizzes – putting the funny into money. Below are some ideas and activities you can do at home today, to open-up a conversation with children about money and set them on the right path.

Make the everyday fun

Learning about money doesn’t need to be a drag. Shopping can be a great way to get the kids thinking about the difference between price and value, the impact of advertising, managing a budget, counting change or learning about ways to pay. Set up shop at home or turn a boring trip to the supermarket into a game. If you are brave, put the kids in charge of the shopping list and get them looking for the best value deals!

Delayed gratification

An important life skill, whether it be food or spending, is learning to control our desire for instant gratification. Try the famous Marshmallow test with the kids and be sure to play along. Challenge them to resist the marshmallow for 15 minutes, in return for another – a reward for their willpower and waiting. Can they hold out? Can YOU  hold out? Marshmallows or spending, strength and resilience in the face of temptation can be a powerful lesson when building good money habits.

Go for goal!

Kids love a challenge. Setting and working towards goals is key to being good with money. Whether saving for something special, a rainy day or raising money for good cause, ask them to set a savings goal, plan the steps required, and encourage them every step of the way.

Practice what you preach

This is the hard part! Children are like sponges, absorbing what they see and hear around them. They will be looking to you and copying your behaviours – so no more retail therapy; set a good example!

With schools currently closed and parents looking for ways to keep the kids engaged and entertained, be sure to make money lessons part of the daily timetable. It’s never too soon to start!

Helen Driver is a guest contributor to the IFW and Founder of Miss Moneyready