As adults, we seem to spend an awful lot of our time trying to save money. Whether we’re looking to move along the property ladder, save up for a holiday or maybe putting money away for retirement, we inevitably have to put something aside every time we make money.
For a child, on the other hand, the concept of saving money can be a trickier beast to conquer. Personally, I found it difficult to save ANY money as a child – and my wife would probably tell you I haven’t changed much as an adult.
Explaining the concept of saving to a child is one of the key milestones in their financial education. And if you get it right, you might even find yourself doing the same, leading by example.
But unless they’ve got something particular in mind that they’re saving for, how do you promote the idea of saving to them? Here’s six tips to get you started.
Get them a money box
Whilst it might seem bit counterintuitive to go for a physical box rather than the more sensible bank account, many people find that the act of watching their pile of money grow is a good way to encourage good saving habits. If you can find one that also tallies how much they’ve got, even better – I usually find that the act of opening the box to count how much they have is too much of a temptation to spend it!
Encourage them to earn some money
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest your children get jobs before they’re old enough! But finding a way to earn some spare change – whether through chores, odd jobs, or even selling their old toys on eBay (my two have made a ridiculous amount of money back this way!), the act of earning money can in and of itself help them to see their savings as a more fruitful exercise.
Divide up their savings
Some parents find that the act of creating two separate money boxes can help a child to see the value of saving. For instance, if they always divide their booty between a “spending” pot and a “saving” pot, it will quickly become apparent to them how quickly the spending money disappears, while still having a savings pot to fall back on in times of requirement.
Let them spend it themselves
I know that sounds a bit strange in an article about saving, but we’re often tempted to avoid letting our children handle money, particularly when dealing with shopping. But if they ARE going to spend some of their money, let them handle the transaction themselves. The very act of handing over their hard-earned cash (and seeing it being taken away) can be a simple reminder of the value of money
Help them to find better deals
If your child simply insists upon spending their money, teach them about the savings they can make by finding a good bargain or discount. Whether it’s buying the goods second hand, finding a voucher or just waiting until the sales, the act of seeing how much money they have avoided spending (and which they can put back into their savings) is another valuable financial lesson
Teach one and the other will follow
If you’re lucky enough to have more than one child, the easiest method I’ve found is to get ONE of them saving money, and rely on the experience rubbing off on your other children. For instance, my oldest son is quite a good saver, and currently has around £120 in his piggy bank. My younger son, on the other hand, is terrible – just like me, money burns a hole in his pocket.
However, when he sees his older brother reaping the rewards of his saving – usually by being able to buy something large that he himself would never be able to afford – he usually gets the message that saving is a worthwhile exercise. I can’t guarantee it’ll last, but it seems to be improving his bank balance for the time being.
Henry Elliss is a digital marketer by day and a pun-loving, dad-blogging, photo-taking, Lego-making, beard-wearing, child-caring father of two and husband of one by day, night, weekend and every other moment. For more family adventures, reviews and parenting hints and tips, visit Henry’s Fatherhood blog.