As someone who believes that managing your budget and finances is a skill that should be learnt from a young age, I wasn't surprised to read that research conducted by Think Money showed that three quarters of parents would like financial education to start in primary school. I agree that as children learn the basics of Maths they should also be taught about money and how to manage a budget.
I was lucky that my mum taught me important financial skills from a young age and this introduction to budgeting has meant that from the age of 17 when I moved out on my own and had bills to manage I have done so successfully and always managed to live comfortably withing my means. It worried me when I saw friends at University spending their student loans within weeks and then having to rely on credit cards and the kindness of friends to survive the rest of term. These were intelligent young people who just hadn't been taught how to manage their money.
I want to ensure that both of my children grow up with a firm grasp of how to mange their money and I strongly believe that the way to do that is to encourage this from an early age.
My top three tips financial tips for children are:
Learn to manage a budget - This can start with simple things like having pocket money that they have to manage themselves and use to buy their own treats, rather than being bought things on days out.
Encourage Saving - I think it's really important to teach children to understand that if they want something, like a particular toy or day out, they may have to save up for it. Children respond well to visual aids so a good way of doing this is to get them to draw a picture of what they want to save up for and stick this on to a clear glass jar so they can see their coins build up towards their target.
The Value of Money - One of the most important things for children to learn about money is that it has a value. It doesn't just 'grow on trees' but is earned through hard work. I'm not advocating child labour but a few simple age appropriate chores such as tidying their bedroom or helping set the table for dinner in exchange for pocket money can help to teach children that money has value.
To encourage parents to talk about financial skills with their children the folks at Think Money sent us a plain brown piggy bank and a Hobbycraft voucher to get creative with.
I took the opportunity to talk to my children, Ben who has just turned eight and Elizabeth who is four about what they like to spent their money on. Elizabeth talked about sweets and toys as well as books from our local charity shop which are quite short term, whereas Ben was looking further in the future towards spends for holidays and Cub camps. We talked about saving up and he showed an understanding that if he kept hold of the few coins he got on a weekly basis he would have a much larger sum in the future.
Ben has recently swam up from Beavers to Cubs and this weekend went on his first cub camp so it seemed apt that he decided to use this as a theme for the piggy bank.
Both children loved choosing their craft supplies in Hobbycraft and Elizabeth helped Ben paint the pig green, decorate it with the Cubs logo in glitter glue, coat it with decoglue to give it a glossy finish, while he very carefully made some challenge badge and a fabulous necker from coloured felt that matches his own!
We're all really proud of the finished Piggy Bank and I hope it will give Ben the perfect reason to save up his pennies toward spends for his next camping trip.
This is an entry into the Think Money Budgeting with Children Competition.