Three tips on talking to your kids about money
07 November 2022
Personal finance journalist and money blogger at Much More With Less, Faith Archer, shares tips on talking to your kids about money for Talk Money Week.
With bills rocketing right, left and centre, you might not want to worry your children by talking about money. But I reckon discussing money matters can help kids have a healthy relationship with money and make smarter decisions as adults.
As a mum of two as well as a personal finance journalist, my three top tips for talking to your kids about money are:
Money habits and attitudes can be formed very young, even before the age of seven, so start talking about money early on.
I gave my children pocket money before they started school, because even young children can understand that if they spend it all on sweets, there isn’t anything left for stickers. Playing shops at home, or games like Junior Monopoly, can introduce kids to the concept of cash.
Talking about money isn’t a one-time conversation. Get your kids involved in everyday decisions, rather than treating money as a taboo subject.
For example, a trip to the supermarket can introduce the basics of budgeting. If we’re trying not to spend too much, we talk about what we can afford to buy, and what we can‘t. If my kids want fancy branded cereal, I point out the difference in cost compared to own brand. Do they really want less of the branded cereal, rather than more of less expensive version? Could they check the price per kilo and see if a different pack size is cheaper? What makes one more expensive than another, and is the price worth paying?
As kids get older, the things they want tend to have a bigger price tag attached.
If money is tight but my teen would like the new bag and the new trainers and the new stationery for the return to school, we’ll talk about priorities. Which would he like most? Which does he need most? If he needs trainers in a larger size, would he rather skip the designer version so there’s enough left for the longed-for backpack?
In a world of cash machines and contactless payments, I’m keen for my children to understand that money doesn’t magically appear but needs to be earned.
We might talk about how to raise extra cash on top of what I’m prepared to pay, perhaps by saving up pocket money, doing jobs or as part of a birthday present. By discussing the choices, my kids can get used to making financial decisions.
Walk the talk
Children are very perceptive and will pick up on differences between what you say about money and what you actually do, so it’s important to practice what you preach. If you are stressed about not having enough money one day, then go on a spending spree the next, it will send mixed messages. Aim to avoid the arguments that can make money seem frightening. I try to show my children how we budget for bills, weigh up big purchases and plan ahead for stuff like holidays and Christmas presents, so they can learn about managing money.