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Your next challenge | talking to kids about money

My eldest, now in Reception, is going through a phase, driven a lot by the new things she’s encountering at school. Every day, it’s about JoJo Bows (if you want my honest opinion on these, please get in touch!) and clip-ons, and sparkly cat ears on headbands. I want, I need, so and so has 100, etc.

It got me thinking about how I talk to the kids about money. I’m pretty sure I can do better at it. My daughter is a kind soul and is rapidly developing empathy, mostly through the topics that Reception is bringing up and teaching. I’m keen to ensure that we lay down some boundaries and stick to them.

When she was a toddler, we used to steer her away from rides or glitzy things by telling her ‘we didn’t have any tickets’. For a while, she began to think that money was tickets. This line of defence against no extra spending has now developed into ‘we can’t afford that today’ or ‘We haven’t got enough money’. More than often, this is true. I don’t carry much cash around these days.

The cash I do have is in our spare change jar. We have a couple of rules. If it’s in Daddy’s pockets or on the floor, it goes in the jar. If it came home from a holiday, it goes in the jar. The jar then gets counted and used for Christmas. Last year, we bought the turkey, some decorations and some candles from Homesense (the most Christmassy shop ever, love it), with money from the jar.

Our kids know we go to work, but I’m not sure they know that’s where money comes from. I remember my mum and dad trying to get me and my sister to start a little ledger book for our pocket money, and failing miserably at understanding how to balance it. I’m terrible at sums and awful at household money management.

In the past, I’ve had a credit card, I’ve had personal finance on a car, and I’ve looked for loans to get out of holes, loans for holidays, loans for lots of things, on sites like Readies. I’m lucky to have married a man who does know how to do sums, and he does know how to talk sensibly about money. Together, we’re tackling the idea of instilling that sensibility in our kids.

Our tips, such as they are, would be:

  • Play shop, and make some fun money to use as currency. We usually go with pet shop, although car show room has now made it in, due to our little boy’s birthday haul of chunky vehicles. Gently try and encourage denominations of cash to be appropriate.
  • Let them present the card or the cash at the till, although try not to be too indulgent, we’ve peeved a lot of Tesco staff in recent months with our vibe!
  • As soon as they are guaranteed not to ingest it, start letting them handle change. Some kids get an obsession with little bags and purses, so maybe let them have some real or pretend money to carry
  • Did you see episode one of Motherland where she played find the pound coin as a party game? I laughed a lot at that. We have a rule with any kid that comes to our house. Any spare change you find on the floor, you keep. I’m not saying we have rooms carpeted with 5ps, but we do inexplicably drop coins a lot. I need to get a proper purse!
  • Always tell them when something is precious to you, regardless of whether it’s expensive or not. The notion of money can’t buy is just as important as money would buy, to me


How do you broach the subject of money with kids?

This is a collaborative post.

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