Teaching your children about money

June 9, 2016

Learning money skills at a young age will help your child develop good habits for the future. We have a number of steps to help you show your child how to make smart money decisions:

Step 1: Teach your child the difference between needs and wants

It is important that your child learns the difference between needs and wants. This will make future conversations about money easier. Pocket money can be a good way to start. It doesn’t have to be much. Think about how much they will get and on what basis it is given, for example, is it earned? It is important to be consistent. Then discuss with your child how they plan to spend their money.

Step 2: Teach your child to budget

A great way to help your child get started and learn how to budget is to have three jars with the following labels.

  • Spending – for buying something straight away.
  • Savings – for setting a goal, for instance if they want to buy a toy, book or sports jersey. Explain to your child why it is important to save and show them how they can do this by agreeing on a savings goal together. Get them to work out what the cost of the item they are saving for is and how long it would take to save for it, based on how much pocket money they get.
  • Future – this is money that is put away and can’t be touched until an agreed time in the future. For example, it could be for a holiday fund. Teaching your child the importance of putting a little away for a special event or a rainy day is a good way for them to be prepared for what might happen in the future.

Every time your child receives money they can decide how much they would like to put into each jar. Over time your child will begin to understand how to manage money. They will then be ready for the next step, opening their own savings account.

Step 3: Encourage your child to open a savings account

It is a good idea to help your child to open a savings account. Banks, credit unions and post offices offer children’s accounts and they can open one with as little as €1. Children’s accounts are usually easy to use and have no charges. Once the account is opened, you can encourage your child to lodge money from their savings jars into their account each week.

Step 4: Reward your child’s money saving efforts

You may find your child losing interest in saving their money or becoming frustrated when they want to buy something straight away without having enough saved. You could encourage them to continue saving by agreeing to match the amount they have saved. Do this for a couple of weeks to help them reach their goal.

Step 5: Make sure to keep it fun

A good way to teach your child about making choices is to involve them in some household budgeting decisions. For example, when planning your next family day out give your child the opportunity to be involved in choosing where to go. Try to limit the choice to two or three different places. Give them the total amount you have available to spend and discuss the pros and cons of each. Discuss the cost involved and the importance of prioritising what is most important to them. When on the trip give each child a small amount of money to budget and spend on themselves.

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