Helping children to develop important money skills
Last week I attended a social gathering where a five-year-old boy was commanding the attention of a large group of people. He was asking them to perform magic tricks which inevitably resulted in a coin appearing behind someone’s ear or underneath their foot.
The audience were scrambling around for loose change and the boy was screaming with joy at his ever-increasing pile of money.
The eagerness of the benefactors to part with cash wasn’t the biggest surprise, neither was the amount of money bestowed upon the boy – a rather impressive £14.27. Instead, the key point that took me by surprise was how quickly the child was able to sift through the coins and add them up without hesitation. His numeracy skills were very impressive for someone of his young age.
Earlier that day I was standing in line at a convenience store while another child, of slightly older age, tried to buy a magazine costing £3.99. He only had £2 to spend. Other children in his group pointed out that he didn’t have enough money yet he just stood still, saying ‘but I really want it’.
Both these situations highlight examples of how children begin to interact with money and develop the necessary skills to understand how money can be used. They would be perfect case studies to use in schools to help children contextualise different situations when they need to be able to work out how much money they have, and how far it will go.
That’s topical because next week sees an initiative in England aimed at getting four to 19-year olds excited and interested in financial matters. My Money Week provides resources to schools to get children engaged in the subject matter and not make it seem like a maths lessons.
Primary pupils will explore spending and saving, while secondary students will look at borrowing, peer pressure and value for money.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO INVESTING?
The path becoming a good investor starts with a sound understanding of how money works and initiatives such as My Money Week have to be applauded.
Pocket money may be one of the first ways a child experiences having their own cash and many families ask their children to do chores to help earn this money. The next step is to get them to open a savings account which older children can often manage themselves.
But if you want to engage children in the world of investing from a young age it is worth exploring Junior ISAs and encouraging them to help pick the stocks that may sit in the portfolio.
Children often respond well to the concept of investing if you tell them they’ve become part owners of a business. In my own children’s case they are particularly excited about having an investment in a fund which owns a stake in the biggest peanut butter maker in the US.
Involving children in financial matters can be done effectively if the conversation or event is linked to things that interest them or affect them on a day-to-day basis. By talking to them on their own level you can make money matters easier to understand and ultimately you are ‘investing’ in their future.