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03 June 2024

Talking money matters with children and young people

Research shows children’s attitudes about money are well developed by age 7. So, it’s never too early to start building their understanding of and confidence in financial matters.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) also say teaching children about money from a young age is a “game-changer” as it helps develop essential skills they’ll need as adults.

Next week (10 – 14 June) will mark the 15th consecutive year of My Money Week in the UK – an annual event that aims to help children and young people aged 3 to 19 build healthy relationships with money. It also aims to get them interested in and excited about learning more about money and how to use it in their daily life. This would help them gain the financial skills, knowledge and confidence needed to be able to make sound financial decisions and to thrive as adults.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re a parent wanting to make money conversations part of your child’s learning journey:


Think about introducing the concept of saving for a pension early

Pensions form an integral part of  financial education. Although it may be tricky for little children to understand the concept of saving for a pension, introducing it to teenagers can help them get familiar with it from an early age and set them off to a good start when they start working.

You could try initiating some  conversations about pensions at home or asking older relatives in receipt of a pension to explain the concept, providing a realistic example with themselves. Talking openly and using real-life examples to help aid understanding may help your child to really understand the value of pension saving and to pick up the skills they will need in future.

It can be difficult to talk pensions especially if you feel that you don’t understand it well enough yourself. But it’s important to remember that you don’t need to be a pensions guru to help your children get their heads around the basics. A bit of prep work beforehand might help with keeping the conversation going on a regular basis. Keeping it simple and using everyday words might also help.


Make learning about money habits part of daily life

There are plenty of ways you could make learning about money part of your daily routine and enrich your child’s experiences by bringing money matters to life at home.

A simple example that a lot of parents perhaps do already is to give children a piggybank and to introduce saving to them that way.

It is recommended to introduce pocket money from a young age as well as a way to build habit and to teach considerate money spending and effective prioritising. This is closely linked to children being able to differentiate between needs and wants, essential spending and spending for pleasure i.e. paying the mortgage or the council tax is more important than treating the family to a meal out. It might help to make it relevant to their world and give examples with things they can relate to i.e. it’s more important to buy a new pair of shoes than a new car transporter or a new backpack, for example.

It may also be helpful to get them involved in saving decisions so they can see how it works in practice i.e. we are saving for X so we’ll cut back on Y to make the money we need to be able to afford X. Older children may well be able to get their heads around interest and compounding too so it might be worth touching on these terms as part of their learning journey.

Another important information to consider passing on might be that money isn’t infinite and we need to make careful decisions about how and where we spend it. Bringing the concept of borrowing to their attention might be helpful too i.e. if you borrow money you have to pay it back.

Supporting children to build healthy relationships with money is a journey and takes time. Talking openly and practising in real life may help them grow up with the skills they need to manage their finances wisely as adults.


Talk about the importance of staying vigilant to financial scams at all times

Scams have proved to be a significant threat to our financial wellbeing in recent years. Many people choose to manage their finances purely online these days and this tendency is likely to evolve in the years to come. So it’s important to teach children about the warning signs of scams.

Older children using mobile phones and applications can be an easy target as they are likely to have less knowledge of the warning signs. It’s important they need are aware of the risks and build up their knowledge about what to look out for while online.

Government-backed support service MoneyHelper has said the main things to teach children to protect them from online scams are to:  

  • create strong passwords and have them share these with you
  • never share their personal details with anyone else or on websites
  • only use well-known apps, websites and games – watch out for fakes
  • be cautious about opening links, especially if they’re from someone they’ve never met
  • beware - if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is – and could be a scam
  • show you messages that are asking them for money – as these are likely to be scams.

You can also set parental controls on their mobile phone and any devices that are connected to the internet.


Tap into the resources available to help you talk money with children more effectively

There is a lot of information and resources available online to help make money conversations easier for you and helpful to your child. We’ve listed some below but a simple Google search might help uncover some more if the ones below don’t suffice.


My Money Week resources

The My Money Week campaign offers free resources for children aged 3 to 19. You’d need to create a free account on their website to access them, though.

Talk Learn Do campaign resources by Money & Pensions Service

Talk Learn Do is a free tool aimed to help parents and carers teach children about money. It offers resource in different formats, including video, to help aid children’s understanding of money matters.

MoneyHelper talk money resources to help you talk money with family and friends

MoneyHelper offer a whole host of free information and resources to utilise. From articles on different money topics – to tools and calculators – to videos – the website is packed full of information to help you have effective money conversations with family and friends.

BBC Teach Class Clips

The clips comprise 4 short films aimed at providing teenagers with a the information they need to be able to understand common money terms and concepts such as credit, debt, pension, interest and more.