Money Wellness
teenage boy and young girl counting out money from a piggy bank and jar
category iconmanaging your money
calendar icon15 Jun 2023

Less than half of UK kids taught how to manage money

Less than half of UK children have been taught about money at home or in school, according to a report by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).

The survey found that just 47% of children aged between 7-17 have received a meaningful financial education either in school or at home. This figure has remained pretty much the same since it was last measured in 2019 (48%).

After extending the survey to include five and six-year-olds, MaPS now estimates that 5.4 million children don't have the money skills they’ll need in adulthood.

Children were asked if they remembered getting useful lessons about money at school. A quarter (23%) said they had.

They were also asked if:

  • they regularly got money from their parents or a job
  • their parents set rules on spending money
  • they were given responsibility for spending decisions

In total, 14% answered yes to all three questions.

A further 10% said they had learnt about money at home and school. Overall, this means a total of 47% had received a good level of financial education.

Financial education was more common for children:

  • from a higher income household (50% vs 44% in lower income households)
  • who were part of a family managing to keep on top of bills (48% vs 41% of those falling behind with bills)
  • living in an urban rather than a rural area (48% vs 40%)

The report shows that a good financial education results in children being more likely to:

  • feel confident managing and talking about finances
  • save regularly
  • use a bank account

 

Tips on raising money-smart kids

Attitudes and habits surrounding money start to form when children are as young as five. By the time they are seven, they may have pretty firm views. Despite that, it’s never too late to start trying to instil healthy attitudes and habits.

Here are our tips on raising financially savvy kids:

Under 7s 

  1. Give them pocket money

Even very young children can learn about budgeting. Regular pocket money can be used to encourage them to save for more expensive items, rather than blowing the lot on smaller treats.

Get them thinking about money by giving them a small amount of money for sweets and suggesting they weigh up whether to choose one big item or several smaller ones.

  1. Use a piggy bank

Small children learn best when there’s something tangible for them to see and touch. Dig out a piggy bank or money box so they can see their money mounting up. They could use the piggy bank to store their pocket money. Or you could give them tokens as a reward for good behaviour to be cashed in for treats at the end of the week.

  1. Become a shop keeper 

Everyone loves playing shop. Set up your own by displaying toys or food for sale and making price tags. Give your children a purse full of coins or ask them to make their own bank notes in different colours for different denominations. Then take it in turns as customer and shopkeeper to exchange goods for money and counting out change.

  1. Bank of mum and dad

Help your children understand how banks work by setting up the bank of mum and dad. Pay interest on what your children save to encourage saving. Add coins or tokens to their money box or add virtual interest via a pocket money app.

  1. Needs and wants 

Be honest with your children when it comes to money. They need to learn that we have to prioritise spending to cover essentials when times are tough over nice-to-have things that aren’t a necessity.

 

Age – 7 to 13

  1. Charge for snacks

If you’re being eaten out of house and home with constant demands for more snacks, make it educational. Put together a price list and give your child a daily budget.

You could choose to set lower prices for healthy options or food that needs using up. It all helps to teach kids to add up their purchases, budget for different choices and realise that money can only be spent once.

  1. Bored? Try a board game  

Dust off an old-fashioned board game and have some family fun. Monopoly is brilliant for learning about property purchases, rent, mortgages and going bankrupt. The junior version is an easier starting point.

The Game of Life is also good for money lessons

  1. Gastronomic delights

Give your child a budget for a fun family meal. Ask them to plan the menu, write a shopping list and work out what they can afford to buy.

Point out how to check the price per kilogram or per item to identify cheaper alternatives.

  1. Set saving goals 

Even if your child can’t get to the shops, they might still want to order online, use gaming credits, or pay to download films.

Teach them about delayed gratification by encouraging them to set a savings goal and show them how to reach it faster by earning extra cash.

‘Must have’ purchases may become less urgent if they have to fund them themselves.

  1. Pay for chores 

Write a list of jobs that need doing and what you’re prepared to pay. This helps children understand that money needs to be earned and doesn’t grow on trees. Chores could include mowing the lawn, washing the car, gardening, washing windows or cleaning the bathroom and kitchen.

Even young kids can help by setting the table and keeping their bedrooms tidy. It’s up to you if you make pocket money dependent on helping around the house.

  1. Take them into the Dragon’s Den  

Keen to declutter your home? Motivate your children to identify unwanted toys, books, and games by letting them keep what they earn by selling their clutter on marketplaces like eBay, Depop or Vinted.

  1. Teach them about compound interest 

You might want to show your children the power of compounding – that’s the value of interest paid on savings and how it accrues over time.

Ask your child if they would rather be given £1,000 a day for 30 days or start with a penny and double it every day for 30 days.

Which one would leave them with more money? Work it out at 10-day intervals, then ask if they want to change their answer.

  1. It’s good to give 

When times are hard for so many people, encourage your children to think about causes they would like to support.

Help them put their money where their principles are, whether that’s shopping from local companies, buying items for a food bank, or donating part of their pocket money to charity.

  1. Get help from an app

Use apps like RoosterMoney or Gohenry to pay their pocket money into directly, where they can learn about setting saving goals or ways to earn extra cash.

Both apps offer debt cards with parental controls so children can learn how to spend money safely on plastic.

  1. Let them make mistakes 

You may disagree with your child blowing all their money on whatever the most recent trend is. But letting them make money mistakes is all part of the learning process. It’s much better to make a £20 mistake at seven than a £2,000 mistake at 27.

Age – between 14 and 18 

  1. Talk pensions with a pensioner  

Get grandparents involved by getting your children to interview them about money. Children can learn a lot about saving from older generations. Here’s some questions they could ask:

  • Do they wish they had put more money into a pension?
  • What was their craziest financial decision or biggest mistake?
  • What do they wish they’d known about money when they were younger?
  1. Dealing with debt

If money is tight and you’re negotiating a mortgage payment holiday, credit card balance transfer or deferring bills, talk to your children about it and why you’re doing it. Children need to know about debt as much as they need to understand about saving. Arming children with the skills they need to avoid debt can mitigate the damage it can cause in later life and help them to understand there’s always a solution to be found.

  1. Pension power 

Get kids to play around with a compound interest calculator. Put in monthly payments at 5% interest starting at different ages to see how it builds up by retirement age.

  1. Budget like a boss

Let older children loose on comparison websites and let them have a cut of any savings they find for switching household suppliers.

Direct them to cashback websites such as www.TopCashback.co.uk and www.quidco.com to see if you can also get cashback when switching.

  1. Ride the bulls and dodge the bears 

Start your child on the stock market. If your child has a junior ISA or a child trust fund (CTF), they can take control of these investments from 16, although they can’t withdraw money until they’re 18.

Ask them to come up with companies they’d like to invest in, then research which might be a good bet.

This all helps to learn how the stock market works, the importance of spreading money across different investment, and how returns can add up over time.

  1. Share a payslip 

Share your payslip with older teenagers. It’s now harder for teenagers to get a Saturday job and they may not realise how much is deducted from a salary, such as national insurance contributions, income tax, pension payments and benefits such as health insurance.

Discuss where this goes and why.


Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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