Early lessons in the value of money

Published by Rob Goodman on 16 September 2014.
Last updated on 16 September 2014


This September will see pupils at secondary schools in England tackle a new subject for the first time, with the introduction of personal finance lessons.

Eleven to 16-year olds will get to grips with topics such as money management, debt, credit and overdrafts in their citizenship and maths lessons, following a high-profile campaign to have personal finance added to the National Curriculum in an effort to help kids make sense of money matters.

But some mums and dads are already getting their kids ready for the world of work and finance. Moneywise spoke to two families to see how they are preparing their children to look after their cash.

Leila and Ed Bodros, from the Isle of Wight, have two children, Nina, Three, and Tyla, 11.

Tyla might only be 11 but both Leila and Ed have impressed on her from a young age the importance of being financially savvy, with their eldest daughter encouraged to take part in helping put together the family's monthly budget.

"Teaching Tyla to be responsible with her finances has been part of an inherent shift in the way our family spends money," Leila says.

"Being dependent primarily on my husband's income has meant that we have all had to employ measures to budget in a sensible way.

"We discuss practically every purchase we make and we research prices online to get the best deals.

Discussing finances and budgets as a family has drawn Tyla in from a young age."

Getting Tyla involved in the family's day-to-day budgeting has led to her having to make her own financial decisions already. She scours the internet to try to find the best deal for any purchases she wants to make and – unlike many youngsters – has to pay with her own money, too.

"We ask her to look at the quality of her purchase, teaching that value for money does not always mean the cheapest product or service," Leila says.

"She has her own bank account and for birthdays and Christmas she receives money. Should she want something she doesn't need, she has to buy it with her own money.

"This means transferring it from her account to ours before she has access to it. This ‘cooling-off' period usually gives her time to reflect on whether she really wants it.

"Last year she took us up on a deal to hold off on a Playstation 3 at Christmas, to get a Playstation 4 this summer if she attained her grades at school. She succeeded. Waiting that long for something used to be the norm when we were young but it is a rarity these days."

Tyla's maturity when it comes to money matters is helped by the family's commitment to cooking together – and installing a work ethic in her by doing jobs around the house. She has already been taught the value of buying ingredients rather than purchasing expensive ready meals.

"She knows how preparing a meal from scratch can save money, especially as leftovers can be used to create another meal. We have taught her not to waste anything," says Leila.

"She is in charge of keeping the kitchen clean and loading the dishwasher. This helps her to understand that we must all work at something daily, even if we don't always feel like it.

"Teaching Tyla the value of hard work has been key. Motivating her to achieve daily goals and strive to do her best in all that she can is hard work but we believe it is the only way she will understand the true value of not only money but life itself."

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Kathryn Chadwick, lives in Pontypridd, South Wales, with her husband Paul, and two children, Isaac, 11, and Iwan, eight.

Firm but fair – that's the mantra the Chadwicks employ when it comes to teaching their children about money.

The boys have to save up for anything they want, with the money they earn from undertaking various chores around the home going towards their purchases.

"Both Isaac and Iwan have been taught to pay their way already and know the value of money," says Kathryn.

"For example, Isaac wanted an iPod Touch for ages, so he had to save up his own money. The boys get small amounts of money for helping us around the house, and use that – they aren't given money for doing nothing.

"He saved up for about eight months to get enough money together, along with his birthday and Christmas money, to buy a computer.

"We were proud of him when we went into Argos with his moneybox and handed over £230 in cash."

Both Kathryn and Paul want to make sure that their sons know what it is like to save and have a real understanding of what money means – life lessons that are reinforced by the boys' grandparents.

"My parents run an old-fashioned pub and have only just put in a card machine," Kathryn says.

"It's good for the boys to see the money go in and out of the till. People today don't get to feel and touch money – it's all virtual with contactless payments and debit cards. We want the boys to know what the real value of money is, and being able to see and hold cash really helps."

Kathryn and Paul hope this early grounding in money matters should stand the boys in good stead as they get older – and think the introduction of personal finance lessons into the classroom can only help improve children's education in this important area.

"We will be encouraging them when they are a bit older to get part-time jobs as well, so they can earn their own money," Kathryn says.

"Personal finance has already been taught in schools in Wales for a few years and it's definitely a good idea to help kids across the UK be aware of what it's like to have to look after their finances."

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