Learning the value of money can be so much more than a game for children. Passing on the values of economy to them can bring them values such as responsibility, collaboration, saving, learning to negotiate, or even entrepreneurship. Experts recommend starting to talk about private and family financial management from the age of seven, when children can become aware that the ATM does not give money because it is magical, but because adults, with their work, earn it and keep it in the bank.
It is within the family that the first values about money are learned. Today, most children in our society have grown up in a consumerist system that has made them used to having it all, and having it all now. In this sense, the first lesson to be learned is that access to money is limited to one’s own productive capacity. They need to be taught to see the value of living within their limitations, and to be aware from a very young age that knowing how to spend is as important as knowing how to save.
- Children and teenagers, the great consumers
Montse Junyent, educated in business management and administration, advises passing on to children “the value of money, which is hard to earn and must be used ethically“. Show them, from an early age, that all the decisions we make have an economic impact, from buying and accumulating toys, to the practice of buying and throwing, food waste, or even the use of plastic bags. Children can understand that one of these bags can end up in the sea and take four hundred and fifty years to disintegrate. Make them aware that the Earth is finite, and we must take responsibility and take care of it through sustainable consumption actions. Adults and children must be consistent with this idea and act responsibly in all areas, in our relationship with people, with the environment, with the world, or with our way of consuming.
Junyent also defends the economy of the common good, with the aim of “contributing to the construction of a more sustainable and fair life system”. She is committed to “transmitting and publicizing sustainable alternative economic models and helping children to grow as committed people, with criteria, information, and a desire to change what they do not like.” That is, to give children all the tools that allow them to be independent and make their own decisions, based on values such as commitment, sustainability, honesty, innovation, and creativity.
Values that can be passed on in many ways, including through games or stories, and that begin in school. Sustainability, for example, is one of the issues of most concern today, and therefore much talked about within the education system. On the other hand, according to Junyent, children are not taught to talk about economics from an ethical and responsible point of view as much as they should.
- The value of money through pay
Many parents have doubts about whether to give money to their children. They often wonder when they should start giving their children allowance, and what the ideal amount is.
Allowance can be an important way of teaching children how to manage and value money, a learning that will serve them well in the future. There is no set age to start using money, but it is essential that when they do, they understand its value and the importance of saving.
Some parents associate pay with doing household chores, a view that many question, arguing that all members of the family should collaborate in this type of activity. Whatever the mentality, the point is that the model of education that the child receives must be coherent. Therefore, it is not a question of whether to pay or not, but to find the perfect formula for learning through values.
- Suggesting to children what they should spend their allowance on
As the child gets older, the allowance can be increased, always depending on the use that is made of it. It is important to suggest to children what they should spend it on, taking into account their wishes and the need they have for the product in question. Beyond avoiding the purchase of products that may not benefit them, it is important to establish a fluid conversation, without imposing anything, where we make them see the consequences of each of their purchases. It will also be a good time to show them new forms of consumption, always opting for a sustainable consumption model, which can provide a real benefit and for as long as possible over time, and for them to understand, in short, that money is there to make their lives easier and that using it unconsciously can lead to negative situations.
We usually start this teaching at around five or six years of age, although it can also be beneficial to do so at preschool age. For example, you can show them how picking up their toys can have a reward, whether in the form of a treat or something else, the point is to learn that if our actions have a positive impact, we will be rewarded. And maybe at first it will be through material things, or when we start working it will be through money, but over the years this teaching will mean that the best reward is the one we make for ourselves, based on our own values.
- Teaching to save and share
A good way to show the importance of saving can be to divide the money that the child receives, from an early age, into two parts. The first is in the form of a piggy bank that they can keep at home, where they can keep all the money that can be spent, which would be the daily economy. On the other hand, you can have a bank account where you can put money for future savings. In this way, he will create a relationship with money from both perspectives and understand its importance.
Another important learning will be about sharing. Money does not have to be an individual possession, it can also be shared. An idea that may seem controversial socially, as we relate to money from the point of view of possession and, therefore, it individualises it. Educating children in this issue will allow them to experience this relationship from another point of view, with a more collective vision and social responsibility. It is important to show, by example, that money can be a tool to help others, from making donations to the most disadvantaged to shopping in a specific shop where the profits are used for social projects. There are many ways to help, and it is worth instilling this habit in children and young people.
In conclusion, children need to be taught clear lessons about money, and the best way will always be through practice, copying the behaviours they see at home. Therefore, parents should be the example of this learning, teaching them not to buy on impulse, but to plan their goals, both in the short and long term. When the time is right, they can be encouraged to do small paid chores, and if approached from an educational point of view, giving them pay can become a decisive way of teaching children to manage and value money, a lesson that can mark their lives. Finally, and taking into account the weight that the new generations carry for the future, focus on teaching based on the construction of a more sustainable and fairer system of life for all.