3 fresh approaches to teach children the value of money

There’s been quite a push in the past few years to get children to appreciate money more than they do. It’s been partly spearheaded by figures like money saving expert Martin Lewis, who has used his platform to try and influence educators and get money management on the curriculum. After all, why shouldn’t it be? It’s one of the most important factors for living a balanced and comfortable life, and yet children will leave school without knowing the basics of saving, bills, loans, tax, mortgages, pensions, investment and much more besides.

So bearing in mind that it’s never too early to teach children the value of money, we’ve got a few ways to make children realise there’s no money tree, that saving is wise and that earning is linked to work. It’s not just about piggy banks!

Play shop

As soon as children become numerate, you should start to introduce the concept of money to them. They’ll already have a basic idea if they’ve been out shopping with you, but nowadays, with most payments being by card, they might not quite appreciate what’s happening.

Set up a shop filled with things they really want (toys, fruit, chocolate bars, games etc.), plus a few “special purchases” – big, exciting things. Give them some tokens that represent different values of money, and put a price tag on all the items for sale. With a daily or weekly allowance, they’ll quickly learn how many small things they can afford, but hopefully those tantalising big things might even teach them about saving up.

Pre-loaded money cards

This relatively new innovation is a fantastic way to let them manage their spending, while you, the parent or guardian, still retain 100% control of the spending. It looks just like a normal credit or debit card, and your children will use it exactly the same way – making payments in shops with contactless payments or chip and PIN. The difference is that it is your card; you top it up with money and set limits on what can be spent. You can even use an app or website to monitor every single payment – and cancel it at any time.

Several companies offer these cards, which can be given to children as young as six in the case of GoHenry, although most have a minimum age of eight. Obviously, they won’t be out shopping alone at that age, but armed with their card, if they see that toy or magazine they want when you’re out shopping, they can get it themselves, and understand that their balance will go down.

Bank of mum and dad

Putting their pocket money in a bank account and watching it accrue interest will be a little less exciting than watching grass grow. Even adult savers with a few thousand in the bank get disappointed by the interest they earn.

So why not set up your own bank that they can save in? You can offer generous interest rates, say 5% per week, and they’ll actually see their money grow. Combined with pocket money and cash earned through chores, it’s a great way of teaching them about saving. You can shield them from the grim reality of interest-earning until they’re old enough to take it.

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