When is it a good time to teach your children about money?
Along with many, many people around the globe, we have had to tighten our belts.
Christmas was rather more low key this year, ‘luxuries’ are out of the shopping basket and hubby and I very rarely eat a meal out.
To be truthful, it’s been an eye opener. I have enjoyed not frittering money on ‘stuff’. It has actually served to make me quite ashamed of the la-de-da way we almost threw cash around in the ‘good times’.
Household bills are sometimes a struggle so we try to be as energy efficient as possible.
Car fuel bills are rising, so we try to walk as often as we can.
And even though is really stretches us, we try to save.
And yet in the midst of this monetary maelstrom, we have decided to start giving our 6-year-old pocket money.
As a parent I think it is imperative that I teach my children to be cash wise.
I see so many young people leave their seat of learning and head off into a life of work – in debt.
Imagine that? In debt before you’ve even clutched your first payslip to your chest?
I do not want that for my children. I want them to understand that you can have the good things in life, but you need to be responsible with money first and then the rewards will follow.
Sure credit seems exciting and instant and boy wouldn’t it be great to bring that huge TV home right now, today, no waiting, no paying out?
But you do pay out in the end. And what’s wrong with waiting anyway and getting that buzz of satisfaction that you’ve saved up for this wonderful thing?
And then maybe, by the time you’ve saved up for it, you’ll have had time to think and actually you don’t want that big TV you want something else and buying that TV would have been a big waste of money.
So, on his sixth birthday, we told Daniel he would start receiving pocket money – £2 a week.
BUT mummy and daddy would no longer be treating him to the ‘little things’. If he wants anything – new book, stickers, a magazine, chocolate – he has to buy it himself.
And he has been brilliant with it. It has really made numbers come to life for him as he works out how much he will have if he saves for a year and what he could buy with it and how much more he will have than mummy and daddy (which is already climbing as he had some money from relatives for his birthday too!)
Of course, there is always the danger that it will be thrown away on junk that will last all of 2 days before it falls apart/gets lost/falls out of favour.
But those are lessons he has to learn too.
However, like most of us, money was burning holes in his pocket, so he has made his first purchase.
That rather magnificent model at the top of the page? That is a character from Star Wars (oh how he loves Star Wars) called Boba Fett and it’s crafted from nuts and bolts and bits of machinery and chains and suchlike and we stumbled on him at a stall in town recently.
Dan fell in love with it.
He asked the stall holder how much it was: £40 – rather a lot for a little boy.
Will I still be able to buy the marbles I wanted, Dan asks me. Will I have enough left over? I say I’m not sure but he is determined to buy that model so he rifles through his wallet, counting out his money.
The stall holder is clearly impressed and is smiling a big warm smile in my son’s direction.
“Is this your own money son?” he asks him and Dan silently nods his head, still counting out his notes and coins.
So the stall holder says: “I tell you what, how about I knock it down to £35 so you have some left over to buy those marbles?”
Dan came away with both his model and his marbles that day, and I came away with a great feeling of pride and achievment and a restored faith that, especially in bad times, the kindness of strangers is the greatest wealth of all.