- Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to instill a respect for finances in your kids. My children see me being careful with my cash and understand that resources are not unlimited. I'm not one to spend lots of money on myself (in fact I'm very low on the list when it comes to buying things for myself!) I don't aspire to own the best brands, the latest must-have items or designer labels and I'm more interested in finding good quality, good value products on the market and keeping my money in the bank. Thankfully, my girls are following in my footsteps and do not expect the latest mobile phones, designer clothes or shoes. In fact they are proud to be individuals who don't follow the fashion hungry crowd. They have developed a love of Primark, which will stand them in good stead for the future! Being a savvy shopper goes hand in hand with being a savvy saver!
- I've always let my children handle money and introduced ideas of spending and saving through play. From popping pennies in their money boxes to counting it up to see how much they have saved, it starts an early understanding of cash. Playing a game of shops is great fun. Letting your toddler be the shopkeeper or the customer and buying and selling things with pretend money is a good introduction to money handling. The song "Ten Currant Buns in a Baker's Shop," is all about money and shopping and another idea for an activity for pre-schoolers to enjoy. "Paying the lady" in the supermarket is also something we do with the children from a young age so they understand that the money is handed over in exchange for whatever we have purchased. Freddy at 3 asks if we have enough money for our shopping when we do our weekly shop, which shows he is starting to grasp the concept of cash and whether we can afford what we are buying! This is definitely a good firsts step in becoming financially aware.
- Saving is so important. I always tell me children about the fact that I saved my money when I was a child which meant that by the time I needed to buy a car and pay a deposit on my first flat, I had the money to do so. Surely being able to do that is more important than buying packets of sweets every week? In fact it is useful to make them understand that if they are spending £2 a week on sweets they are spending over £100 a year. If they are buying the latest released CDs from One Direction, JLS or Nickie Minaj every month, they will have spent in excess of £150. Yes it is nice to buy things, but be sure you really want them and you aren't just buying them because your money is burning a hole in your pocket!! All those £1's soon add up to a substantial amount that could make a real difference to your future if you had popped those pounds into a savings account!
- Each of my children has had a bank account since they were born. When birthdays and Christmases have seen them receive a nice chunk of cash, I always encourage them to put some into their savings. Again, if they want something specific they can buy it, but I do not support the idea of them frittering it away on bits and pieces they don't need or even really want. The girls have always been happy to save at least half of what they get given. In fact they enjoy going into the local branch of the bank and paying the cash in. Seeing the total balance going up gives them quite a thrill and they enjoy some healthy competition with their siblings as to who has the most money in their account!
- We recently discovered Roosterbank, an online virtual savings account where Kizzy is given 'pocket money' which is recorded in her Roosterbank account. To access the money she has to send me a request and funds are then used to make a purchase or are deposited into her real bank account. This gives her control over her finances and allows her to watch her money grow. A virtual wishlist can be created so if she wants to save up for something specific, she can see the total cash she has in her account approaching the target sum she needs. When given such a visual incentive, the urge to spend the odd pound here and there on sweeties is nowhere near as powerful.
- As a family we talk about money openly which I think is important. Money should not be a taboo subject and I want my children to experience real life finances within the family. Ian and I discuss our credit card bills and the fact that we pay the full balance off every month in full so we are not charged interest. We never take out loans or buy things on HP. Ian really wants a 3D TV but he is having to wait. I don't think it is a good message to buy such a luxury item straight away...I don't want the children to think they can have whatever they want whenever they want. (Especially with powerful advertising from shops like Brighthouse who suggest otherwise!) We do enjoy treats as a family, but we don't ever take them for granted. We often say "yes we can afford it, but we can't justify the expense" if one of the kids asks for something that is expensive and unnecessary. I think it is important to realise that just because you have cash doesn't mean it needs to be spent! Our financial viewpoint is conveyed to the children naturally and organically and will hopefully help shape their opinions and give them first hand experience of what it's like to be an adult responsible for making financial decisions. Fingers crossed they will see how being savers has benefited our family.
I am proud of how my girls handle their money and I hope Freddy follows in their footsteps with a respect for saving and an understanding of what you save today helps you in the future when you really need it. Living in the 21st century isn't easy. Everything is so expensive and we are earning less due to cuts in hours, pay and benefits. Loan companies are constantly trying to seduce us with promises of quick cash fixes. Their adverts are shown on the kid's TV channels, exposing our children to them from an early age. It's more important now than ever before to make sure our children understand money so they can become a future savvy saver!!
This is my entry into the MoneySupermarket.com Superkids Savers Challenge.