Ethical financial and employment services

Teach your children the value of money

Financial education is set to be included in the National Curriculum in secondary schools from September 2014.  It will be included in the secondary school National Curriculum in both maths and citizenship lessons.

There’s a lot parents and grandparents can do to ensure children gain a good understanding of personal finance.

Habits set in stone by age 7

Kirsty Bowman-Vaughan, young people policy manager at the government-backed Money Advice Service stated, “We recently carried out in-depth research and found that adult financial habits are set by the time a child turns seven. These findings reveal that alongside the role played by schools, the way to influence the habits of children is through their parents. Young people find their parents give the most helpful advice on money matters. They are also likely to imitate the good – or bad – financial behaviours of what happens in their family”.

The Money Advice Service is currently working with experts in education and the financial services industry to bring together a forum and to develop parenting and teaching resources. These are due to launch in early 2014.

Help and resources

With no sign of financial education hitting primary school curriculums any time soon, the onus, for now at least, remains on parents and grandparents to help get their children off to a good start.

As a starting point, pfeg suggests talking to your children about money. “It is the most effective way to help your children understand personal finance.” says Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of pfeg. “Explain how you arrive at financial decisions, what’s in your budget, and how different aspects of dealing with money make you feel.”

Bowman-Vaughan adds that parents shouldn’t worry about talking about money. “It’s something we all need to learn about,” she says. “And it’s far better to get kids engaging with money at home where they can mistakes in a safe environment. Give them some responsibility and get them involved with financial decisions. This could be as simple as counting coins or trying to understand the bigger picture of the true cost of a day out, including petrol and meals.”

It’s also important to teach children where money comes from.

“In an increasingly cashless society, it can be useful to show your child your payslip and explain what you had to do to find employment,” says Bleakley. “This can help build financial understanding.”

Savings challenges

Another good tip is to set your children savings challenges. “If you give your child pocket money, talk to them about setting a savings target and encourage them to adopt good habits early,” says Bleakley. “This is a good opportunity to introduce ideas around planning for the future.”

Susan Hannums, director at analyst, adds that parents could use a piggy bank to help engage a child to put their pennies away for future use. “This can be a good way to get little ones excited about the basics of saving, and can get them used to saving up to buy the things they want,” she says. “And as they grow, hopefully their savings will grow too.”

Further findings show more than four in five parents said having to do chores for their allowance will prepare children for the realities of work in the future.

Another good way to engage children in finance is by helping them ‘practise’ waiting until they have saved enough to be able to buy something they want.

“This could involve making a savings chart indicating how much money has been saved by colouring in some of those coins,” says Bowman-Vaughan. “Your child can then see how many more remain uncoloured – and how much more needs to be saved.”

You can also use trips to the shops as an opportunity to talk about your buying decisions. “A young child could help their parent compile a list of items needed for the home, as this helps them learn how to prioritise and plan how much to spend,” says Bowman-Vaughan.

Then, as you go around the supermarket, you could ask your children to choose the best-value combinations of set products, and also to do the adding up as you go along.

“Children need to learn if there is not enough money to buy a certain item, you need to decide whether to buy a less expensive one – or wait until you’ve saved up enough money,” says Bowman-Vaughan.

Shopping can also help you teach the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. “Contrast examples of goods your children need every day – such as food and clothing – with items they might want but don’t need, such as toys,” says Bleakley. “This is a great way of introducing the concept of saving, as well as the need to exercise restraint in spending.”

Get online to learn about money

There are now a whole host of sites and apps on offer aimed at helping children learn about managing money. Two pocket money sites are worth a look: GoHenry (formerly PKTMNY) and Roosterbank.

GoHenry is a site for children aged between eight and 18 that gives them the chance to try out their skills in the real world but under the guidance of parents, who can set tight controls on spending limits through a linked account. Children get a prepaid card but parents then decide how much, how often, and where their children spend – with no ability to go overdrawn.

Roosterbank is a kind of online piggy bank that gives children their own personalised dashboard where they can keep track of their pocket money. They can then choose whether to use their ‘wallet’ to get things they want to buy, or their ‘safe’ to put some money aside for the future. The more they save, the more they get rewarded.

Pfeg has also developed two of its own apps, both aimed at teenagers. These are the My Money Shaker app and the Max Your Money Skills online tool. Both are available at

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