Tips from a savings-savvy Dad…
"You must have all the money in the world, Dad. Look at me, I've got 5p, I'm rich."
These are the words of my five-year-old boy. They speak volumes about his innocent understanding of money, never mind his growing yet still blurred concept of saving.
Here are some of his perceptions: Two pence coins are worth their weight in gold and can buy anything, the small 5ps are good for shoving inside toy cars, while £1 coins (of course worthless) are ideal for throwing down the back of the sofa.
However he handles or perceives money, I teach him that it’s important to put money aside for the future. Here are some saving ideas from his hard-pressed Dad.
I ask him to tell me the numbers on the coins, working up to double digits, 10p, 20p and 50p. I then ask him to order the coins in value from lowest to highest and vice versa. If he can see how much they're worth, he can see how much he can save.
Save that thought
I think that the earlier children understand the idea of saving the better. When my son is given £10 for his birthday or Christmas, I give him choices. £10 worth of sweets is not kind on his teeth so I explain: 'Why not spend half on something you enjoy now, like a toy, and save the other half, putting it towards a more expensive thing you might like in the future – for example a bike. This helps teach both the importance of saving for the future, the concept of compromise and the value of money.
That great feeling
We put all the money in a wee jar, which he worships atop his bookcase with pride, daydreaming of how he will spend it all.
Looking back – I used to put money into a plastic Paddington Bear. The bear became full over time and I would open him, shake out the money and count my stash. True, the amount was worth much less in the eighties, especially when it had the old half pence coins in there. I still marvelled at the money spread in front of me. It gave me a sense of pride and achievement and this great feeling is still one of the reasons I save today.
Something to aim for
I teach my son to save for something more expensive, like a football strip. 'But I want it now, dad'. 'But the best things come to those who wait, I reply'. I sit down with him and do the basic maths. If the football strip costs £30, how many £10 notes will he need from his birthday or pocket money to make up the full amount.
I let him paint a picture or draw a box so that he can put in the values every time he receives money. This is then pinned on the fridge so he can see how far he has to go to buy his treasured football strip. We put all the money in a wee jar, which he worships atop his bookcase with pride, daydreaming of how he will spend it all.
From Money Matters team member and father of two, Andy Moore.
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