Teaching your kids to save wisely is a parenting win
3 min | 21 September 2021
Family finances can change for a variety of reasons and it’s not something you can, or should keep from your children. If you find your situation suddenly changing, whether for better or worse, knowing how to talk it through openly with young people can lead to some valuable life lessons.
Most of us aim for an honest and open relationship with our children. We want them to talk about their feelings and keep us up to date with their lives, so it’s important that we give the same back, and that includes being open about money.
By being upfront and talking through the basics, you can bring some honesty and transparency when needed.
There are plenty of moments where conversations about spending and saving come up naturally, the trick is learning to make the most of them.
Plan a conversation
Money isn’t broadly taught in schools, so as parents or carers it’s up to us to help children learn how to use it responsibly.
If you need to talk to your child about a change in your circumstances then plan your conversation. Think about the message you want to give and how you can involve them. Say you’re going to cook at home more to save money, you could ask them to help you plan a menu. And if you won’t be going on holiday that year tell them why, and then talk about some fun activities you’ll do instead.
No one wants their children to worry about money, but you do want them to understand that it has to be earned and spent mindfully and that not everyone has the same amount of it.
Keep the conversation positive and let them ask questions too.
Keep it age-appropriate
As with most things, it’s best to start early. There are many different approaches to money and some important messages to consider, depending on your family’s circumstances. But even from a young age there are opportunities to talk costs and budgets.
Young people are bound to compare themselves to their classmates. Who has what? Who does what? Explaining to them that people earn and spend money differently is probably one of the most important messages for young people. Help them understand the need for tact and sensitivity when it comes to playground chat.
When they are a bit older start to talk about what your money values are as a family, and you can introduce the idea of money management too. Maybe write a monthly budget with your child and let them know about some of the bills that you pay each month - gas and electricity for example, or council tax.
Set money goals as a family
Think about what your money goals are as a family. These could be short term, say you’re saving for a family day out, or long term, like a new sofa. Let your children know what you’re thinking and show them that to afford these things you’ll need to make a few changes.
If you make the most of these moments and talk comfortably about your values then you can give your child a solid understanding of money, and all the responsibilities that come with it. And if and when you need to tighten your budget, then talking about it won’t feel like a big deal.