There are many life skills that we need to pass onto our children and one important lesson is to learn the value of money. Of course, from the time they are born, it is important for us as parents to start saving for their future. Three of my children were born during the “golden age” of the Child Trust Fund so had a bit of a head start, but by the time our youngest was born the scheme had closed so we opened a Junior ISA for her instead.
The financial advice that we give our offspring will continue well into the future, and looking ahead, at some point I will be advising them on buying a car, affording university, getting a mortgage and checking their credit rating (find out more here: https://www.creditexpert.co.uk/advice/credit-rating). I find this all quite scary as I don’t feel like an adult myself yet!
Back to the present and these are some of the ways that we have helped our children to understand money so far:
1. Learn through play (but don’t eat it!)
Looking back, I think that the first thing I have actually taught all my kids regarding money is to not put the coins in their mouth! Well, you know what young kids are like! On a serious note, the first experience our children have with money is through play. My kids have always loved their play shop and till. They have play money but love to use real money in their shop too (it sounds and feels better!). Pennies are great fun to play with and to learn to count, but kids should be introduced to all the other coins too. Use real food and food packaging and label them with current prices (apple 20p etc).
BBC Bitesize also has money games for KS1 and KS2 on their site.
2. Collect Coins
My kids love collecting coins, not only to learn about money but also to learn about history and different countries. For Danny, I bought the set of coins for the year he was born. For the girls, I made my own collection. I found a sixpence the other day from the year my mum was born, so I gave that to her.
- Draw around the coins and write the value inside.
- Make rubbings of the coins by putting them under paper and crayoning over the top.
- Collect a set of coins from 2008 onwards and put them together to make The Shield of the Royal Arms.
As kids get older they can learn the value of different currency by making currency converter graphs, such as Euros into GBP when planning overseas holidays (yes, I know this can all be converted online now but making their own graph can give kids a more concrete understanding).
3. Pocket Money
I think that pocket money is a great idea to help kids understand the value of money. However, I’m going to admit that my own kids don’t have regular pocket money in the normal sense, purely because I haven’t got into the routine of it yet.
They are each given “pockets” of money each week, Danny has bus and dinner money, while the girls have snack and fruit money that they bring to school.
Then, occasionally, if I know we’re going to a nice shop or on holiday, I may give them a certain amount of money to spend there. Of course, they can save the money up if they wish instead.
Danny also has a phone and to help him learn his limits sensibly, he is on a capped contract. He is aware of how much calls, text and data costs- he’s always on the look out for free wifi spots if he wants to message his friends!
4. Life Experience over Material Possessions
Another thing that I have always tried to teach our kids is that life experience is more important than material possessions. I used to buy far too many toys and our home got cluttered. Consequently, it was hard to find the toys and the room to play. Now we have started again, with far less, we have fewer possessions but we are a lot happier.
My kids also love to be in the outdoors and imagination is one of their greatest gifts. They love to play with natural things all around them. They love “free” days out as much as paid ones and I’m glad that they know how to have fun without the need for money.
Of course, we do have possessions, but it’s important to always ask ourselves if we really do need things before we buy them.
5. Time is Wealth
Ten years ago when I worked full time and only had Danny, we would do a big supermarket shop each week and at the end always buy him a toy. Some of these toys he would play with happily on his own but others were games or construction toys to play together. The problem was, we never had time to play them with him and a collection of these toys, unopened boxes, began to grow at home. One week, at the end of our shop, I asked him would he prefer his usual treat or time with us to play with his toys. He chose “time”. This makes me feel ashamed now as I look back but it was just a routine that we had slipped into in our busy lives.
Now I work from home, I am able to give the kids more of my time. They value me being able to read them a story, work on a craft activity or play with them more than just paying out for a new toy. I know that even now, I need to give them more of my time.
I suppose I could class that one as a lesson that my children have taught me.
Some people believe that you should reward children with money for doing chores. We do this sometimes if one of the kids is “saving up” for a trip or something special. However, the kids are aware that the more they help us around the house, the more time we all have for fun and time together, so that is a natural incentive (OK, I still have to
nag remind them of this from time to time, but it is effective).
How have you taught your children to understand the value of money? Do you give out pocket money each week?