Jill Smyth believes you don’t need to be a financial expert to talk to your children about money. Using real life examples will make it easier to dispel common misconceptions.
Getting your kids to understand the value of money is an ongoing challenge and that, coupled with myths about money, only makes it harder. Kids learn what they live and parents are often their biggest influence.
Little things don’t cost much...
Contrary to popular belief money doesn’t actually grow on trees! How often do your kids ask for what they perceive as ‘little’ things without realising how much they cost or what impact this could have on your family budget? Next time you go out shopping give them a list of items that they frequently ask for like sweets, comics, small toys or football stickers and ask them to write down the price of each of these items. Then get them to add up the total cost and explain to them how long it would take to earn the money to pay for these – and what this amount of money could buy instead.
Easy come, easy go...
If your kids are lucky enough to get pocket money or if they get money on birthdays or special occasions, many will want to rush out and spend it all immediately. Believe it or not money doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket so dispel this common belief by encouraging your kids to save at least some of it. Either suggest to them to start saving at home in a money box or take them to open their own bank account.
Money makes you happy...
Many of us think that the more money we have the happier it will make us, but being happy isn’t necessarily about gaining something for ourselves. Teaching this to kids can be a challenge but a great way to do it is to get them involved in doing something for charity such as a car wash, sponsored walk or simply encouraging them to put some of their own money into a charity box for a cause they feel connected to. This will create the feel good factor and help them to see how helping others can make you feel happy too!
The price is right...
I love a good bargain but encouraging kids to save up and buy better quality items that last longer will often save money in the long run. A friend recently told me that her mum is always buying bargains for her kids which prompted her daughter to remark, ‘Granny just because it’s in the sale doesn’t mean it’s nice,’ – obviously a very wise child.
No spend days. Having a big day out with the kids doesn’t have to mean spending large. Challenge your family to have at least one ‘no spend’ family day out a month.
Go Free: List and plan to go to free days out listed in the Ni4kids What’s On Guide. Don’t forget you will find lots more event listings online at ni4kids.com and on the Ni4kids free App. Many museums have no entrance fees, check for free events coming up in your local park on your council website or visit a beauty spot or RSPB reserve for a nature hunt.
Pack a picnic: The cost of feeding the family when out and about can be the biggest of the day. Never leave home without a supply of drinks, sandwiches, fruit and treats which all costs much less when bought in bulk from the supermarket.
A free ride. Plan your route and factor in things like parking costs. Is it cheaper to travel by bus or rail with park and ride? Or plan where you are going to park, you could save £££s by walking a little further to your final destination. Better still, can you walk or cycle and add in some exercise?
Jill Smyth is Head of MoneySense at Ulster Bank. Check out moneysense.ulsterbank.co.uk for more useful hints, tips and practical exercises on budgeting, getting value for money and managing debt.