How to bring up financially savvy kids

Children and finances tips NatWest

I hope my mum and dad will forgive me for saying that we had what could be described as a ‘financially somewhat turbulent’ childhood. Circumstances did not always work in our favour let’s say. Not that I mind at all. In fact, if anything, lacking financial security as a child has had a lot of positives; it has certainly made me appreciate the value of money, and how important it is to be careful with it

I’m not saying I’m a massive scrooge or anything, I like spending it too, I’m just respectful at the same time. They say that money can’t buy you happiness, and I totally agree with that, but a lack of money certainly isn’t fun, and so it’s important to have a good attitude towards both saving and spending.

As part of my current project with NatWest Money Clip, and with the help of my daughter Bee, who’s now 20, I’ve been thinking about children’s relationships with money, and how this impacts their financial health as adults, to try to come up with some strategies for teaching children about money management. NatWest have some great resources on their Telegraph finance hub too, so do check those out if you’d like more information.

My first question then, to get you thinking – how have your financial experiences as a child shaped your relationship with money as an adult?

Children and finances tips NatWest

Hint – If this is what you were taught as a child, you’ve probably had a nasty surprise

“I’m pretty bad when it comes to money,” Bee told me, “as in, in my purse I have about £35 and I don’t even want to look at my bank account. It’s not that I don’t know how to save money, because I know all I have to do is just not buy things. But then I think, money is for spending right? That’s why we have money, to buy things. I’m going to spend it at some point, so it might as well be on this pair of shoes now than on a house in 10 years time. You can’t doubt my logic.”

That doesn’t sound like I’ve set Bee up terribly well does it? I prompted her further, to see if she had inherited any pearls of financial wisdom.

“There is something I always remember you telling me,” she said, “that I always tell other people when they are worried about money. You told me “money is like the tides. Sometimes it flows in and sometimes it flows out. So don’t worry if it seems to all flow out at once, because it will flow back in eventually.” When I say this to people they get really annoyed. I don’t know why. I try to live by this advice but quite often the money doesn’t just flow back in. Which is why I have none.”


I do believe that money is a bit of a flow of energy, and sometimes you do just have to have faith, but perhaps there are other, more practical things that we could be doing, as parents, to help bring up more financially savvy children.

Use money from a young age as part of play

I have to admit that as a parent, ‘playing shops’ was one of my least favourite activities, but as a child, obviously, I loved it. My sister and I had all sorts of variations on the theme, but the key thing was that they all involved money and attributing value to things. We used to love playing cafes and creating menus, and it’s that sort of thing that really gives children an idea of how much things are worth.

One of our favourite games was playing ‘estate agents’. Sure, it didn’t win me many friends at school, but when you think about it, it was actually a really brilliant financial activity. Not only did we know how to price up fish and chips in our cafe, but we had an idea of what you could get for your money on the local property market. We were clearly ahead of our time on the financial education front.

TIP – This ELC play money set has pounds, euros, a credit card and a cheque book, so you can teach children about cash, credit and currency. Pretty cool right?

Which games involving money did you enjoy as a child?

Children and finances tips NatWest

Make saving fun

We live in a far more ‘instant’ world than we did when I was growing up. When you want something nowadays, whether it’s a takeaway, a film, or some other sort of treat, you want it now. Ideally you also want to not have to move very much to get it. Teaching children the art of delayed gratification then is crucial – they need to appreciate that the world isn’t horribly unfair just because you can’t have exactly what you want right away, and that actually, you value something a lot more if you’ve had to wait for it. Opening an account for your child is easy with the variety of bank options for kids and teens.

NatWest has 7 good tips to help making saving fun for children, including genius ideas like having different coloured savings jars for different things. Giving children this sort of control, and allowing them to decide how to allocate their own money, is a great first step on the road to financially savviness. There are some saving advice for teens too, who might not be so easily impressed by glass jars.

TIP – Check out these mason jar piggy bank craft ideas – if children have made the jars themselves they’re more likely to get excited about the prospect of using them.

How do you encourage your children to save?

Children and finances tips NatWest

Make them work for it

There’s nothing that quite makes you appreciate the value of money like having to earn it for yourself. That £4 magazine with crappy free gift doesn’t seem like such a great idea when you’ve had to wash a whole car and mow a lawn to earn the £4 in the first place does it? Suddenly you think twice about blowing all your cash on fizzy strawberry laces and foamy banana sweets.

“There are a few tips I have learned over the years when it comes to money,” Bee told me. I thought briefly that she might mean from me, but no. “One is from Monica Geller from Friends,” she said. “She tells Rachel, “yeah we’ve all got jobs, it’s how we… buy things.” This is wise advice. Jobs are very important if you want to get money to buy things. I would recommend having one that pays loads of money. Don’t get one of those ones where you don’t get paid a lot. They’re rubbish.”

Sound advice from Bee there.

TIP – Take a look at these eight ideas for ways for kids to earn money.

Did you earn your own money as a child? What ways have your kids come up with for earning some extra cash?

And that’s it – the extent of my wisdom! I’d love to hear from you though about your experiences with money as a child, how they have shaped your finances as an adultDid your parents have a good credit score and set you up for a healthy financial future?

Please do leave a comment!

Children and finances tips NatWestNatwest Money Clip

Image creditsIULIIA BLIZNETSOVA, Jenn Huls,  abdrahimmahfar, Africa Studio, Maria Symchych – all from shutterstock.




  1. 26 February, 2016 / 1:52 pm

    This is all great advice, I’m quite good when it comes to money, my husband not so much and I think my kids seem to be split too, my eldest will save where as my 8 year old wants to spend as soon as she has money!

  2. 27 February, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    Hi Jo,
    Nice write up there. Teaching the kids to be financially savvy is something that everybody should be doing. I wouldn’t blame my parents too for not showing me or teaching me some of these stuffs at an earlier age but I am happy they brought me well and I know how to do good budgeting. Teaching kids some of these things at an earlier age opens them up to see what’s ahead and become future professional planners.
    Thanks for sharing this, I will be sharing with some of my friends too.


  3. 28 February, 2016 / 11:43 am

    We’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as Wilf just thinks I can buy him everything and I really want to teach him the value of money and how it needs to be earned etc. Some great tips! x

  4. 28 February, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    I think it’s really important for children to know the value of money and it’s something I want to pass onto my kids – we have a comfortable childhood but my parents never spoilt us, instead they made it clear the money went on things like school, medical aid, sports trips and not things – we always had minimal toys/presents at Christmas etc but we also felt secure – we have not started pocket money or untying like that yet but I do try and make my sons aware that things cost money and money needs to be earned.

    Laura x

  5. 28 February, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    Wowee – first of all – you have a 20 year old daughter?!!! How!?! So youthful looking! Secondly – I really love the idea of giving kids an opportunity to think about value and worth in lots of different ways. We always try to explain that mum and dad have to work to get money to buy things and that’s why we take good care of what we have. I find Levi to be so so generous at 4years old. He saves any money that aunties or grandparents give him and then he asks if we can go out for hot chocolate so he can pay. It’s a nice way to start to see him learn about generosity as well as saving. xo

    • Jo Middleton
      29 February, 2016 / 8:40 am

      Belle is the same – she gives about a third of her pocket money to charity. That’s very sweet of him at 4 years old :-)

  6. 28 February, 2016 / 9:32 pm

    Great post! As a teenager, I used to wash the car and do the ironing for extra pocket money! x

  7. 29 February, 2016 / 3:09 pm

    Ha! I love that your tide advice has foxed Bee’s friends. I’m with you on that though, it does always seem to work out in the end x

  8. 29 February, 2016 / 3:37 pm

    My mum and dad brought me up in an incredibly financially savvy household – but that didn’t make a difference to me! I got myself in some right pickles when I was younger, and I think there are some things (like money management) that can only be learned through experience. I’m still more spendy than I should be but am getting there ;)

    My two ‘earn’ money by doing chores. They’re still young but I want them to grasp the connection between earning money to buy nice things as soon as they can. .

  9. 3 March, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    great tips! My girls all have pocket money, and they ahve to use it to buy the things they want. They earn it by doing chores, and it’s really helped them see the value of money. Last year Kiki saved up to buy a laptop!

  10. 9 May, 2016 / 6:41 am

    Great post, my boys are so different, my eldest is more money savvy than me so I must have done something right with him, my youngest not so much! I left home at 16 so taught myself all I know about money and learnt fast! When I was at home if you wanted anything I had no choice but to save up and buy it myself including decorating my bedroom but I enjoyed doing it and planning it all and then getting it done!

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