Four ways to give your kids a healthy relationship with money


The money box was my first experience with saving money as a child. I got a sense of accomplishment as it became hefty from my regular coin donations.

At the bank, the teller would drop the coins into the bank counting machine, and then record it in my passbook, a little paper booklet that I could carry around.

Of course, it was also a time when we paid for things by cash. I remember my parents allowing me to carry a few notes that I could stuff into my coin purse.

talking to your kids about money pocket money

Fast forward to today, and my two kids- aged 12 and 7 - have a very different experience with money. In an increasingly digitally-enabled society, our day to day now rarely needs cash. Compared with the effort required to make a purchase with whatever was in my little coin purse, paying for things now happens at the touch of a button.

As a parent it's pretty worrying. How will they understand the value of money when everything is just paid for with a 'click'? Unlike my two kids, growing up handling cash and a money box gave me that tangible relationship with money that kids miss these days.

Our own research reveals that I am not alone in my concerns. Nearly all the parents we surveyed are most concerned about children spending too easily (83%), not knowing the value of money (76%), having access to easy credit through 'buy now, pay later' services (65%) and being vulnerable to financial scams (54%).

With money no longer being so tangible, children may find it difficult to understand the basic concepts of budgeting and debt and will struggle to appreciate the cost of certain items.

So how do we teach children about money's value and help them develop a relationship with money that empowers them to responsibly manage their finances? Personally, I try to follow these four simple tips.

1. Show them the money

Talking about money is never easy but opening the conversation with your children is an important first step. Make them aware of daily expenses such as petrol, and the impact it has on the family budget.

For children, these things can seem infinite, so it is important to establish their relationship with money.

When we go to the supermarket for the weekly shop, we review and compare prices to give them the experience of working to a budget.

2. Get your kids into the household workforce

I have put my two kids on a weekly pocket money scheme for work they do around the house, with their earnings paid into their own bank accounts.

Pay your kids for their regular household responsibilities and show them where this goes, by guiding them through the digital banking interface.

This provides children with an early taste of the responsibility of managing their own money and helps them connect that money comes from effort and work, rather than just magically appearing.

3. Make saving a regular habit

With their regular 'salary' in hand, your kids might be saving up for new scooter or an Xbox.

Help them by setting up a savings plan that they can make regular deposits into. I am always reminded about my money box as I help my two kids manage their savings plans. I used to feel how heavy it was and counted my coins to check my progress.

Translated to today, this means keeping an eye on the account with your children and tracking their progress towards their goal.

This helps them make active decisions and understand the consequences of these choices. Some parents even encourage continued saving by matching their child dollar for dollar.

4. Do not fear the future

There are some great digital tools available to help children understand money.

Banks today understand the importance of providing personalised banking experiences that go beyond the simple money box.

There are some great bank apps that are fun to use and interactive, helping budget, expect and plan for regular expenses, and track your savings progress.

The brave new world of digital finance can be challenging for parents, but by talking about money, setting small achievable goals, and embracing the good that digital finance tools offer, parents can provide their children with the financial confidence to face the future.

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Heather McGovern is the general manager of digital and marketing at MyState Bank. She has more than 20 years' experience in Italy, Canada and Australia, and has held leadership roles across financial services with American Express, the Royal Bank of Canada, National Australia Bank, and AIA Australia. Heather holds a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in advertising and marketing from the University of Canberra.