Teaching kids the basics of financial education

October 18, 2023 • Chris Bardsley

In the run-up to Christmas, your little ones will start making their list to send to Santa, ready for the big day. Only what can often begin as a couple of dream gifts can quickly grow into a budget-busting wish list of game consoles, tech and the latest toys that even elves would need help to keep up with.

That’s why at Fair for You, we’ve put together some helpful tips that you can roll out across half term and in the Christmas countdown to help kids learn about the importance and meaning of money.

These life-long lessons will help kids and young adults get to grips with how money can be earned, how to budget and manage money and how to save for a rainy day rather than spending in the short term.

Getting your children used to talking about money from an early age can help them avoid financial issues in future. The Times Money Mentor has compiled a comprehensive guide to tackling this approach, but we’ve picked out a few of our favourite activities to get you started.

Ages 6 and Under

  • Give the kids some thinking to do

When kids receive regular pocket money, it can encourage them to save for bigger purchases rather than spending all their money on small items.

Give them a small amount of money and ask them whether they want to choose one significant item in the future or smaller ones now.

  • Decorate a special money jar

Little ones learn best by seeing their money mount up. So why not decorate a special money jar or dig out a cute piggy bank?

Give pocket money as coins or reward good behaviour with tokens that can be ‘cashed in’ for a treat at the end of the week.

  • Open a play shop

Imaginative play is an excellent way for younger children to learn - so try opening a play shop! Let them design coins and notes, and then take turns to be shopkeepers and customers as you exchange goods for money and count out change together.

  • Talk about ‘wants’ and ‘needs’

It might seem like a tricky conversation, but if your children are getting fed up, explain how when times are tough, we have to prioritise spending to cover essentials rather than the nice-to-haves.

Ages 7 to 13

  • Make a snack list

Are you being pestered for snacks throughout the day? Make it educational. Try putting together a price list and give your children a daily budget.

Set lower prices for healthy options or any food that needs to be used up sooner. It helps teach kids to add up their purchases, budget for different choices, and understand that money can only be spent once.

  • Set savings goals

Teach delayed gratification by encouraging children to fund purchases by setting a savings goal and taking on chores to earn extra cash.

That impulsive, must-have purchase might lose its shine once they earn it themselves. On the other hand, they may reach their goal and feel the satisfaction of having earned it.

  • Take on chores for rewards

List jobs that need doing and what you are prepared to pay. This helps children understand that money needs to be earned. According to the pocket money app RoosterMoney, popular examples are:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Washing the car

  • Gardening

  • Washing windows

  • Cleaning the bathroom and kitchen

  • Give budding entrepreneurs a boost

If you’re keen to declutter at home, this could be an excellent opportunity to motivate your children to pick out unwanted toys, games, and books.

Then, simply list them on eBay or other selling sites on their behalf and task them with calculating how much they will earn after postage costs and selling fees.

Ages 14 to 18

  • Don’t avoid debt chat

If times are tough and you’re currently negotiating a mortgage payment holiday, credit card balance transfer or deferring bills, try to include your children in the discussions about debt rather than shielding them.

Learning that debt is more expensive than saving due to the added interest could be one of the most valuable lessons they learn!

  • Become a budgeting whizz

If you struggle to find time to switch household suppliers, let older children loose on comparison websites and promise them a cut of any savings from better deals.

Direct them to cashback websites like TopCashback and Quidco to discover if you can also rake in cashback when switching.

Where to go from here?

If you’ve already read the Times Money Mentor guide, look at the activities and videos featured on the Money and Pensions Service website. These will help reinforce many of the lessons and discussion points mentioned here.

At Fair for You, our blog also has a lot of practical and helpful hints and tips on money management and budgeting, such as How To Find Out All Of My Debts and our guide to Money Saving Apps.

Please note we’ve used links to external websites. Although we make every effort to ensure these links are accurate, up-to-date and relevant, Fair for You Enterprise CIC cannot take responsibility for pages maintained by external providers. Views on external sites we link to are not necessarily those of Fair for You Enterprise CIC.

If you come across any external links that don’t work, we would be grateful if you could report them to the web content team.

The content of this blog does not constitute personal financial advice, and the views expressed in it are those of the contributor or author, which may not necessarily represent or reflect the views expressed by Fair for You Enterprise CIC.

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