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From piggy bank to first savings account – teaching kids the value of money

father and son counting pennies togetherConfused.com asks whether your children are right on the money when it comes to saving.

As we tighten our belts to beat the credit crunch, what better time to teach our little ones how to be top of the class when it comes to the value of money?

From September 2009, school children from primary age upwards will learn about managing their pennies as part of the compulsory Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) curriculum.

With consumer debt at record levels, it’s a step in the right direction towards creating a generation of cautious savers rather than extravagant splurgers!

Harry Potter for Pennywise Youngsters

Christine Thompson-Wells, a teacher and money psychologist, is the author of a new book helping parents do just that. ‘Will Jones' Space Adventures and the Money Formula’ tells the intergalactic story of the Grigans and the Spectrons, whose leaders avoid a war over resources by learning to work together.

“The book was written to help children understand the concept of money and how money works in their life,” says Christine. The book is aimed at six to nine year olds while seven more books will cater for other age groups.

“Obviously, one of the major things children need to understand about money is its value,” explains Christine. “If we want to start teaching the value of money, we need to start now, otherwise some children aren't going to have the ability to cope.”

To ensure this, Christine recommends youngsters learn how to work a money system. “Most adults get into trouble financially because they haven't got a system and they haven't been taught how to use one. If a child learns value for money they will always respect it, and the parent is the child's primary teacher.”

In the book, money is broken down into spends - 70% is set aside for living costs, 10% is donated to a children's home, 10% is savings and 10% for developing something for the future.

So how do you instil in youngsters a responsible attitude to money? Follow Confused.com’s top tips to find out…

  • Encourage kids to save. Even when you start dishing out pocket money, you can encourage your children to save. If their allowance is £5, give them individual pound coins and suggest they pop one in the piggy bank! Let them see how their savings can grow.
  • Chores for change. Encourage little ones to earn their own cash by adding monetary value to household tasks. Explain you have to work hard for money and the notes Mum and Dad take from the cash machine aren’t free. Of course, you’ll appreciate help with the housework too!
  • I want, I need. Children should be able to recognise the difference between needs, wants and wishes. Try not to appear to be buying things for the sake of it. If they need a new pair of school shoes, explain it’s because the old ones have holes in them, not because they’ve gone out of fashion.
  • My first bank account. As soon as they’re old enough, open their own savings account. Explain how interest works and discuss the advantages of saving versus spending.
  • Lead by example. Involve children in day to day tasks that will teach them the value of money and the benefits of savings. Involve them in tasks like the weekly shop and paying your utilities bills.
  • Be fair. If you have more than one child, don’t give extra money to a child who’s spent all their cash when the other has wisely put theirs away to save for something special.



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