How to talk to children about money

Talking to children about money can make it easier for them to understand their finances when they're older. Here's 8 simple steps to get you started

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Step 1: Let them pay

One of the best things we can do to help our children with money is to let them learn. This can be hard when you want to protect them from making mistakes. But getting them involved now can help protect them from money problems in the future.

This can start by giving them cash when shopping for items like food or cupboard staples. You could give them £5 towards tissue paper and let them find a pack within that budget. This will help them understand how much things cost. It could also open up a conversation about why there are different prices.

Step 2: Show them examples

Like with most things, the concept of money is difficult to understand until you start using it. Children need to understand the mental maths involved in buying. Then they will understand why you tell them off for in-app purchases.

Using physical money is an age old way of teaching children about money and even in a digital age it's still a great way to help them visualise. You could take out 20 £1 coins and help your children build a tower with them. Ask them to check the app to see how much money those in-app purchases cost. Show them how it removes coins from that tower, leaving them with less.

Or, show them the balance on the card you use for everyday spending. Let them see how every time you buy something, money leaves the account.

Step 3: Give them jobs

Most of us earn money from the work that we do. The best way to teach children about money is to show them how that happens. Before they're old enough work, give them a head start with chores. This could be dusting, watering plants or clearing the table.

When they have done their chores, give them money to show that they have earned something. You could even set different amounts for each chore so they get more for something that takes longer.

Step 4: Put them in charge

Giving children the freedom to budget for themselves will teach them about self-control. When they have money for a gift, let them know it's for the present, card and wrapping paper.

Take them shopping if they're too young to go alone, but let them choose how to spend the money. You may find it hard not to step in if they run out of money. But resisting that urge can help them understand budgeting in the future.

Step 5: Play a game

We don't usually talk about borrowing until we're old enough to get a credit card. But it's helpful for children to understand how to build up a credit rating and why this is important.

Why not set up a simple points system? They start with 0, and get points for things like doing their chores on time. If not, they lose points. At the end of the month, you can tell them their score. A high score means they can have a reward on top of their normal allowance.

Step 6: Take out a prepaid card

Prepaid cards for children are becoming more popular. Some say they are suitable for children as young as four years old. This is a good marker, but it's important to pick a card that suits your child.

With a prepaid card, you load money onto it and they use it to pay for things themselves. It helps them learn to set their own goals and work out when they can afford it. GoHenry lets parents set limits for spending. With Osper, children can see how much they've spent and how much they have left.

Step 7: Ask people to give them money, rather than gifts

Teaching children how to save is particularly important while they're young. They could still be getting money for losing their baby teeth. If friends or family members want to give your child a gift, encourage them to put it into a savings account.

Each time you make a deposit, explain to your child what that money can buy them in the future with interest. For example, £100 can buy a new game console. In a year's time with interest, they could get a game console and a game.

Step 8: Be open about your money

Children learn about money from watching their parents. If you can, involve them in the family financial decisions. When you plan holidays, let them see how you decide what you can afford. When you see an advert for charity, talk to them about giving money and how that contributes to society.

It's important to also be transparent about bad money decisions. If you overspend, explain to your children why you may have to cut down on spending the following month.

Whether you need a prepaid card for spending overseas, easy budgeting or due to bad credit, we can find the right option for you by comparing some of the best deals around.

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

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