How to talk to your child about money
There are many conversations we have to have with our kids at different stages of their lives, knowing when to have them is often the most difficult part. Whether it’s the birds and the bees or how to manage money, these conversations are fundamental in shaping our child’s attitudes later in life.
I have been an AMP financial advisor for 20 years and I often hear parents saying they don’t know where to start or even when to have the ‘money talk’. I recommend starting to speak with your children about money at about 6-8 years. Of course every child is different, but this is the time when children start to get a better grip on maths, and that things aren’t free.
To give all parents a little helping hand in this difficult territory here are my top tips for raising financially savvy kids.
Pocket money looks different in every household, but I believe starting pocket money at about 8-10 years of age is a good time. Usually it can be linked with something your child wants, like a new toy or game, or even some extra spending money for an upcoming holiday.
Getting your kids to help with extra chores is a great way to start teaching your children about the relationship between work and money. Tying these chores into your child’s interests can help motivate them to work harder and hence save more. Walking the dog for your little animal lover, working on the garden for your outdoors kid or even helping with cooking for the next Jamie Oliver are all great additional chores to help your child earn their pocket money while doing something they enjoy.
A lot of children are very visual learners particularly with new concepts like money. Opening a bank account for your child is a great way to help them track the pocket money they’ve earnt. Let them see the result of their spending and saving by making sure they keep track of the money going in and out of their online account.
Eyes on the prize
Kids need to have good savings habits to be good spenders. We all want to teach our kids the importance of saving for a rainy day and building up a nest egg, and the most essential aspect of that is goal setting. As they get older, their goals will obviously change and that nest egg will grow, but while they are young focus on what they want in an achievable timeframe, like a new toy. Help them answer questions like; what do you want? How much is it? How long will it take you to save for that? Make it a game and make it fun, this will make it more engaging and help them really take in the lifelong lessons and habits from a young age.
You can make it fun by creating some visual aids for your child to help them see their goal being realised. You can introduce a goals based calendar, or rewards chart, where they can add a sticker when they reach each milestone.
Teaching your child that saving is not about deprivations, rather it is being aspirational, is a great first step in creating a good relationship with money. When they do spend we also need to teach our children to be savvy spenders. You want them to think about whether they are getting the best price? Do they really need the top model? Get them to do some research as it will help form great habits later in life.
You would be surprised by how many adults find it difficult to make and stick to a budget. Getting this concept in early with your child can really help them manage money more effectively into adulthood.
Taking them through a mock household budget with smaller numbers they will understand can allow them to think about how to manage money well, before they have too many responsibilities of their own.
Help them create their own budget for a special project they’d like to work on or let them help plan family meals with a budget attached. That will get your child creating budgets for things they are passionate about and will really help them start good habits early for when they have to manage their own, more complicated finances later in life.
Finance can be fun (honest!)
I have found a great way to get kids thinking, and talking about the positive sides of money is having them ask family members what their best stories are regarding savings and spending. I use this as an exercise and it always has great results. Ask what was the best thing you ever saved for? It usually brings a smile and delight to the person telling it, and may encourage your kids to save for experiences and things they really want rather than the latest fad.