Money habits

This is how I’m talking to my kids about money

Keen to teach your kids about money but not sure where to begin? Money expert Davinia Tomlinson shares her pointers on how to approach it.

As a mother of two young daughters, both of whom have expensive taste in toys, the topic of money is rarely far from my mind. Add to this the constant cash-flow worries associated with being a business owner, compounded by the rising cost of living, and you have a perfect storm of potential financial woes.

This might come as a surprise given what I do for a living. I set up rainchq five years ago specifically to help women take control of their financial futures and relook at how they think about, manage and invest their money.

Unfortunately, deciding where to begin with our finances can feel like a bewildering game of chicken and egg. Yet, with research showing that children form their earliest money habits from the age of seven, there’s a real urgency around making sure we get them off to a flying start from day one.

"One of my biggest priorities in parenting is instilling the importance of financial independence"

– Davinia Tomlinson, money expert and author of Cash Is Queen: A Girl’s Guide to Spending, Saving and Securing Her Cash

But how best to approach complex money matters with a five- and eight-year-old without overwhelming them?

In my experience, kids’ understanding is often way ahead of where we assume it is. Simply asking our children what they already know about money can be super revealing.

It can lead to some difficult conversations, too. Following a trip to the supermarket in which we added some extra items to our shopping basket for donation to a local foodbank, my eight-year-old had lots of questions about who might visit a foodbank, whether we should visit too and if not, why not?

This sparked a great discussion about social justice, fairness and the spiralling cost of living. I was able to share the importance of community, supporting others and asking for help when you need it. The key for me in these discussions isn’t necessarily getting it right all the time, but rather being open to the conversation in the first place and not shutting it down.

So what else can we do to teach our kids about money? Here are some pointers:

  1. 01

    Make it fun!

    If you’re not sure where to start, lessons in money created for kids and parents are ideal. NatWest’s MoneySense has cool videos, games and resources for 5-18s that will boost their knowledge and spark conversations. Gamifying the whole process is a winning strategy, as it makes the topic of money fun and not a chore.

  2. 02

    Involve them in cost-saving activities at home

    This might mean asking them to help you spot discounts in the supermarket or getting them to look up activities you can do as a family for free.

  3. 03

    Invest in books designed specifically for kids 

    They’ll help them learn how to budget and manage their money in a relatable way. For pre-teen and teenage girls, I wrote Cash Is Queen, to equip them with the tools, knowledge and mindset to master their money from an early age.

  4. 04

    Give them pocket money if you can

    Children who get pocket money have a 25% higher financial literacy rate than those who don’t. Set clear, transparent targets for earning different amounts of money, perhaps in reward for chores or academic achievements.

  5. 05

    Ask them about the family’s outgoings

    The objective isn’t to have them obsess about what things cost, but instead to have a realistic idea of household expenses. Examples include: how much do you think we spend on food shopping every week? Or even, simply, what are the things we spend money on in this house?

  6. 06

    Scope out their hopes and dreams

    With older kids and teens, talk to them about their future aspirations – what kind of lifestyle do they want to have and how will they get the money to finance it? This can make for a really fun debate!

  7. 07

    Set up a bank account for them

    Remember to involve them in managing it. You could also consider inviting family and friends to contribute to it for birthdays and other occasions.

Above all, the one thing I hear most often from the women I work with is: I wish I’d learned about this sooner. Anything we can do now to prepare the next generation for their financial future is a huge win.

Davinia Tomlinson

Davinia is an author and founder of rainchq, a business she set up in 2018 to help women take control of their financial futures.

Want to help your kids learn about money?

Our free financial education programme, MoneySense, teaches kids, teens and students all about money using games, videos and activities.

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