Spending money now means something completely different to what it did twenty or thirty years ago. It’s no longer just a case of handing over some notes and coins in exchange for treats. Nowadays, shopping is just as much about clicking a few buttons online and waiting for a delivery as it is about Saturday afternoon shopping sprees. So, what are the best ways of teaching our kids about the value of money when ‘money’ often doesn’t even exchange hands?
Money in its Many Forms
Remember how strange and magical it seemed, watching a hole in the wall dispense notes? A seemingly never-ending supply of money that your parents could visit whenever they wanted. Of course, we all grew up to learn it’s not that simple (or magical). These days many kids transfer this never-ending thinking onto the cards we carry in our wallets – ‘what do you mean you don’t have enough money? You can use your special card!’ – and it’s important to help them understand that money, in its many forms, really doesn’t grow on trees. Using tangible coins and notes is always a great introduction, especially when it comes to counting out values, but it’s also important to teach them the many different ways you can now pay for things and how we keep track of our spending.
From the weekly grocery shop to streaming services, lots of today’s essentials are paid for without any money actually changing hands, so how do we factor this into talking about it with our kids? Try depicting bank accounts as big piggy banks. Every time we use our cards to buy something, that sends a message to the bank that they need to take money out of our ‘piggy banks’ and give it to the shop we’ve bought something from. It’s unreal nature and the instant gratification that comes with internet shopping can have dangers and drawbacks but emphasize the positives too – it’s a lifeline to those who those with disabilities or don’t live close to any shops, and it’s also a great way of finding a bargain. When your children are old enough to appreciate that warm glow you get from shopping in the sales, introduce them to the concept of discount and voucher code sites and show how they can help them cut the price of online clothes shopping.
Spreading the Cost
Going back to the concept of streaming services, there’s no denying that this is a thing every member of the family benefits from, yet your kids might not even associate it with spending money. It’s just another way to watch TV, right? Yet you could use the idea of subscription services to explain the concept of spreading costs. Paying small amount every month to use a service can lead to a discussion about paying for something over a longer period of time. For older children, this a great way to introduce the concept of credit and interest.
Earning Those Notes
Giving an allowance is always a great way to introduce them to responsible spending. Encourage them to put a small amount away each week or month if they want to save up for something a bit more expensive, but also give them a chance to earn more by doing small jobs around the home. The origins of all that ATM money is down to good old-fashioned hard work, after all.
Money has always come with complications, but now online shopping has added another layer to how we educate our kids on it. Giving them some agency over their own allowance and how they can add to it has always been a great starting point but appreciating the good and bad aspects of online shopping is now just as important. And lots forget another benefit of teaching them the value of money – we might end up re-evaluating our own bad spending habits too!