Useful Tips for Helping Children Learn About Money
It’s never too early to help your children learn about taking care of the pennies and pounds – and we’d like to help, too. Read our Tips for Learning About Money. Or, why not drop in to see the team at MAPIO Financial or check out the worksheets we have for children of all ages on our website.
This is such an important time for little ones. If you try to make money and numbers ‘fun’, almost everything else will follow naturally.
Add value to conversations. If you’re in a shop, talk about money – “That one costs £2, this one costs more,” or, “Which packet costs less, is it this one at £1.20, or this one at £1.30?” Your little ones might not give you answers, but just talking about money is a good thing.
Small change makes a big change. Give your little one pennies to hold (make sure they know not to pop them in their mouths, obviously), and get them used to helping you find the right change. They’ll enjoy having something to hold while you’re shopping.
TOP TIP: Put your money on the table. Tired? Hungry? It’s not easy to unpack the shopping when toddlers need your attention. Keep a small pot of pennies to one side, and let your little ones play with them. “How much money do we have left today?” It doesn’t matter if they get it right or wrong. What matters, is that they start associating purchases with money.
As your children learn maths, it gets easier to talk about what pounds and pennies will or won’t buy. This is an important time for children to learn about money.
Talk about presents in the future. When you’re getting birthday presents for their friends, talk about what you’re buying. Show your children how presents have a value.
Use a star chart every day for a week. Choose a simple ‘good’ action, like putting change in a jar or turning lights off. Now, give your toddler star-stickers and let them reward YOU, when you get something right. It’s not about behaviour, it’s about counting – count the stars together.
Spend or save – let them choose. For young children, you might like giving traditional pocket-money … with a twist. Offer a pound if rooms are kept tidy the whole week (small amounts work best), but give them the option of saving or spending.
Make it a game of give and take. Some youngsters don’t like chores. And – even though it’s hard, sometimes – it’s good to teach children they should simply help out around the house, generally. But you might be surprised to see them respond if you start by giving them some money up front! Pop £5 in coins somewhere visible and set a few extra jobs – things like cleaning a cupboard, perhaps. Then, talk about what they think they’ve earned.
Stand up, and sit down. Give your youngster a couple of pounds. Break it into small change. Explain that the money is theirs to spend this week – and then let them spend it, whenever they want. At the end of the week, talk through what they bought. Then start again, with the same amount. You may be surprised how quickly they learn spending too quickly isn’t a good idea!
Let your children pay for things. Again, give your children a few pounds to look after while you’re shopping. Get them involved at the checkout. Don’t worry, even younger staff in a supermarket will recognise what you’re doing – it’s easy, and it only takes a second.
Try a little earning and learning. In primary school, your little ones are learning about charitable work – and that can easily and gently extend to home too. When you’re offering pocket-money, perhaps ask ‘I’d like us to give a little bit to charity, which of these two should we choose?’ You may be surprised – most children are happy to give a little of ‘their’ money to a good cause.
TOP TIP: Say yes to the right things. It’s the No.1 problem when you’re shopping. “I want that one… can I have this?” And it’s easier to put a few pounds of shopping in the basket than to argue. So, set yourself a budget – £2 is often enough – and let them put something in the basket. THEN, when they ask for a second item, explain the value of both … and get them to decide which one they keep. You’re not saying no (so it’s a win), and they’re not losing out (double-win).
By the time they’re teenagers, they’ll have their own phones and tastes in clothes and toiletries. Now is the time to introduce ‘real world’ examples of money, and how far it does and doesn’t go.
Get them to shop around. In reality, teenagers may not want to come on the weekly shop with you. But they can still learn about comparative value. Find out the best options based on price, size and brands you usually shop for – and make it into a game one weekend. It involves a little work, but it will get them to think things through when they’re picking up bits and pieces for themselves.
Open a building society account. Give your teenager the responsibility of looking after a savings book. Most building societies still use them. Let your children physically pay money in, and do a family ‘review’ once a month. That’s only 12 times a year, but it’s an ideal way to see how quickly savings CAN grow, particularly if they have a part-time job.
Make money part of your lives. Talking positively about money makes it easier to communicate its value. Explain how much value you get – from the TV license, the electricity bill, the tax on your car. Teenagers work well with examples:” “We only pay X for insurance every month, but we get Y cover for that amount – isn’t that good?”
Keeping money in mind – talking about it as part of your everyday conversation – is so helpful. Anything and everything you can do to increase children’s financial awareness is a real gift, with immense value.
MAPIO aims to help you and your family understand the true meaning of finance.