Teaching children about money is one of the most important life skills you can pass on to your kids. I had a really poor example set to me about money, and in all honesty it took years to undo. My parents were quick to use credit cards and didn’t save for things that they couldn’t afford. As a result, debt was a normal part of life, and I didn’t fully understand the costs involved in borrowing money until much later in life.
Teaching kids about money and setting a better example when it comes to managing personal finances is really important to me. Indie, in particular has been learning about money at school. She’s learning the value of coins and notes and how to add and subtract them, but the significance it is going to play in her later life isn’t part of the curriculum just yet.
I’m keen to steer her values in the right direction as attitudes towards money are established when they are very young, some believe it is as young as 7 years old. We talk a lot about not buying everything she wants when she sees the latest toy on the shelves in the shop, but how do we teach children to have a deeper understanding about money?
How To Teach Young Children About Money
I will be the first to admit that I look to the internet for inspiration when it comes to parenting my children. We had begun to notice that even when Indie, and her sister for that matter, had received a generous amount of toys, they were quick to demand more if something caught their eye.
My standard answer would be, ‘no, we are not buying that today’, but I wanted them to fully understand why we have to make a choice about how to spend the money we have. I felt my stock answers weren’t really cutting it to be honest. My go to answer of ‘I won’t have any money left to buy you sweets’ wasn’t really sending the right message, even though it had probably prevented a supermarket meltdown or three in it’s time.
Talking to Kids about Needs and Wants
I’m conscious that my children are 4 and 6 years old, and I want to explore ideas about money that they will understand. As I’m sure you will appreciate if you are the parent of siblings, both children become equally interested in the topics you are discussing at home, regardless of what age they are.
Role play and using practical examples are also a huge part of our life right now, and are certainly helpful tools for helping kids to learn about money. It’s also worth mentioning that parenting is a long game, and teaching the kids about money is going to be a part of our lives for many years to come.
Rooster Money have some excellent resources to help parents teach kids about money, and they cover the topic of needs and wants perfectly for younger children. We have been using some of their techniques over the holiday period, and going on a shopping trip seemed like a great way to think about real examples of needs and wants.
Like most families, we have probably spent more time than usual in the supermarket this month, and of course the kids have tagged along. It is impossible to get around the shop without at least one sentence beginning with ‘please can I have…’. Fortunately the first stop in the supermarket is the grocery section and the kids do understand that we need to buy fresh food to eat and stay healthy.
We also talked about other things we need to buy to make sure we can wash our clothes with laundry powder and clean our teeth with toothpaste for example. It was actually really easy to get the kids to understand that we need money to buy these things. They understand that these are things that happen in our daily lives, but making the connection to the amount of money we have to spend was really important for them.
Inevitably we hit the toy aisle and we knew what was going to happen next. Often we would just avoid this part of the shop so that they didn’t ask for the latest toy on the shelf. While this is one technique, and a lot would argue a very successful one, when it comes to teaching kids about money they don’t get the opportunity to think about why you aren’t buying them a new toy that day.
Given that we had visited the supermarket to buy essentials that we needed and we had been talking about that all the way around the shop, it was much easier to talk to the girls about why we weren’t going to buy toys that day. When we asked them both to think about whether they wanted or needed a new toy, they were able to conclude themselves that it wasn’t something they needed to buy.
For me this is an important concept for children to master as early as possible. Rooster Money, the pocket money app, has more tips for helping to teach kids about money that you might find helpful too. A quick quiz with your kids to get them to identify things that are ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ would only take a few minutes and you can do it literally anywhere.
If children are old enough to receive pocket money or a regular allowance it’s a great opportunity to encourage them to save for things they want to buy. They may find that sometimes they want to make an impulse purchase, that could delay them reaching their savings goal. Getting them to wait just one day and getting them to think about what they want most may just help them to reach the conclusion that spending money on impulse isn’t always a good idea.
How do you deal with your children asking for you to buy things they don’t always need? Do you have any tips for how to teach children about money? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
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