How can we teach our children that money doesn’t grow on trees, when the trees have become digital and invisible? For most of us, our first memories of money are of collecting small change, and witnessing our parents using cash to make everyday purchases. This experience, however, is no longer common – the game has changed, and it has become invisible.
For Generation Alpha (aged between 0 and 8) and Generation Zed (aged between 9 to 18), the wonders of the digital world have always been a mere finger swipe away. This means that their exposure to online payment methods and digital forms of money is often dramatically more than their experience with physical coins and banknotes.
Increasingly, parents are finding that their children struggle to grasp the value of ‘real money’. 66% of parents reported this in the Share the Dream Report, released by the Financial Planning Association of Australia. This is especially concerning, especially when we consider that these children will grow into young adults who do not see money as a tangible object.
Tips for parents
We have put together the following examples of how to talk to your children about money, in ‘real life’ situations. Each of these conversations have the potential to positively affect children and help them to form valuable habits, well before they have started a part time job or finished high school.
Shopping with your children is a great opportunity to educate them on how prices of products differ, and engage them in helping you to ‘shop around’ and pick the best price. This is also a valuable lesson on the value of money – if you are wanting to buy a particular brand, for example, you can explain the reason for the price difference to your children.
Visiting the bank or ATM helps children to understand that the money we use comes from a bank account. You can explain that the money is in your bank account as a result of hard work, and if money is taken out, there will be less in the bank account. Setting up a bank account for your child is also a great introduction to saving for a goal.
Paying bills is a chance to explain the cost of things to your children, especially if you are concerned about the amount of electricity, water, or internet data they use. Involve your children by encouraging them to divide the bills by the number of people in the house, and explain how many hours would need to be worked to pay for the bill.
Discussing budgeting with your family will teach your children more about how we manage costs from week to week. An exciting event such as paying off a big ticket item will help children to understand that we need to work towards achieving goals over the long term. This approach also shows that regardless of their situation, families and individuals need to live within their means.
The How to Talk Money with Children eBook from the Financial Planning Association of Australia is available for download, and provides more helpful activities for parents and children. A finding from the research was that parents who obtain financial advice generally have more frequent and valuable discussions with their children about money.
Ultimately, to challenge the idea of ‘invisible money,’ parents will need to have an ongoing conversation with their children, as they grow to understand more about the world around them and work toward their own goals.
Karlee Hoog-Antink, ADFP
Note: This material is provided for information only. No account has been taken of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person or entity. Accordingly, to the extent that this material may constitute general financial product advice, investors should, before acting on the advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This is not an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities or other financial products, nor a solicitation for deposits or other business, whether directly or indirectly.