Does anyone remember when the bank came to school to give everyone little deposit books? Well, that was pretty much the height of my financial education as a child. A book with a hippo on it and some thinly veiled money advice from a bank with a hidden (or bloody well blatantly obvious) agenda.
My lovely parents did a great job of raising us and we were bestowed with much advice and life lessons in many areas. But not so much money. Money was never really talked about when I was growing up. It was a private matter for grown-ups and that was that. When I was a teenager my Dad would ask me what I’d spent my wages on when I inevitably asked him for more money and the sad truth of the matter was, it was probably all spent on makeup and toiletries in Boots.
I now have an active interest in learning to manage money. And whilst I’m heaps better now that I ever have been, now that I’m responsible for little people who will grow up to operate in a largely money-driven world, my thoughts have turned to how to teach them from a young age to be financially aware.
Spend vs Save
Our current tactic with Ethan is that any money he receives as a gift (birthdays, Christmas, kind family members etc) must be divided in two. Half goes into his ‘Save’ money jar and half goes into his ‘Spend’ money jar. Then when he wants a certain toy or a trip to the shops, I let him take as much as he wants from the Spend jar to treat himself. He did ask me recently why he had to save the money in his Save jar and what the money was for. I had a bit of a hard time answering this and just told him that saving money was a good habit to have. If anyone has better suggestions on how I should explain the saving concept to a four-year-old who doesn’t have to put money away in case his boiler breaks down, I would love to know.
This is not something we currently do with Ethan, although it’s a thought I’ve entertained. Pocket money for me as a kid was a fiver at the end of every week when I was a pre-teen and then I’m sure graduated to a tenner when I was a teenager (until I got my first job). It was spent on much fast food and fuelled the aforementioned Boots binges. I know at 4, Ethan doesn’t quite need a weekly income, but I have thought about instilling the idea of work for pay. Chores are the obvious place to start, but I also have friends who feel like kids shouldn’t be paid for chores because they should contribute to the household as being part of family life. I think I have a foot in both camps here. Chores are a necessary part of growing up and operating in a household, sure, but I know I would have been far more motivated to clean my room or make my bed if there was cash at the other end for it.
Saving for Them
Gavin and I put away a small amount of money into a long-term savings account for Ethan at the end of every month. We’ve been doing this since he was born but the amount fluctuates depending on how tight or flush our own financial situation is. We have a minimum amount agreed though so we know we’re sticking to a plan. It’s a long time away, but I would like to think that when we eventually gift him our savings that he will do something sensible with the money and not just buy a car and a ton of rounds at the pub when he’s 18. I’ve thought about squirrelling the money away until he’s much older and may be ready to buy a house, but who knows what the world will look like in 14 years time, so for now we will just keep saving.
Are there any money lessons you like to teach your littlies?
Do they get pocket money?
And do you put away savings for them?
I know this is all very nosey and money is, of course, one of those subjects that some people don’t like to discuss, but I’m of the opinion that the more we talk about it and the more we talk to our kiddos about it, the better prepared they’ll be for the future.