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BSB 806 015
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Teaching kids money doesn't grow on trees

Boy washing car

Having children can be one of the most rewarding (and let's be honest, sometimes challenging) experiences of your life.

They certainly don’t come with an instruction manual. As a parent, it's your job to teach them about right and wrong, personal safety, values, manners and morals.

Plus, on top of that, there's also stranger-danger, healthy eating and personal accountability. Interestingly however, many Australian parents leave out one of the most important survival skills their children will need in the future - how to take care of themselves financially.

Earning, saving and sharing

Teaching children how to manage their personal finances from a young age can have a huge impact on their attitude to money in the future.

We teach our children about spending money, but this can be fraught with danger if it's the only facet of money management they are exposed to. Emphasising what it means to spend money can come at the expense of other important money skills that children need to learn – earning, saving and sharing.

It’s more about character than coin

Giving children the skills to control their finances is not only beneficial to their financial wellbeing – it also contributes to their self development. The lessons on self-control, conviction, resourcefulness, contentment and compassion are all valuable in shaping a well-rounded, socially aware and responsible person.

Do I look like an ATM?

In this age of online banking and plastic, it’s difficult for children to understand the value of day to day transactions because all they see is you handing a card to a salesperson or tapping a machine and then receiving your goods.

One way to help children understand the impact of this is to explain how much you're spending at the checkout, and then let your children watch you do online banking so they can see how much money you have and how it is managed each month to pay for recurring and unexpected living expenses.

Where to start?

ASIC’s MoneySmart website has teaching resources, like videos and interactive activities to help develop good money habits in kids. You can visit their website at www.moneysmart.gov.au/teaching.

There are also some simple things you can do at home to put your child on the right track:

  • Encourage your children to play ‘shop’ at home and learn the value of coins and notes - for example, how much can you buy with $1? $5? $50? (as anyone who's ever been grocery shopping knows, it never goes as far as you'd like!)
  • Let them help with putting coins in parking meters or vending machines.
  • Explain the reasoning behind your budget and how it helps your family save to take holidays or do fun activities.
  • Encourage children to earn their pocket money by doing age-appropriate tasks around the house, like watering the plants, setting the table or packing the dishwasher. Discuss options with them around saving some of the money to create a savings routine from an early age.
  • For teenage children, encourage them to put a percentage of their pay into a savings account as soon as they get their first job.

For teenagers who have mastered the concept of saving, you may even want to consider setting up a trust in their name through which your child can invest some of their savings in a managed fund or shares. This can be a daunting task for a parent, so it may be useful to talk to one of our financial planners about the various ways this can be done.

Talk to your children about money and keep talking to them about it as they grow. The lessons learned will stay with them for life.

To set up a P&N Way Cool Saver account or another savings account for your children, drop into your nearest P&N Branch.

Or, if you need advice on your family’s financial future, make an appointment with a P&N financial planner.

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