Saving money is right up there on people’s lists of difficulties, alongside the likes of quitting smoking, turning down a chocolate bar and forcing themselves to get to the gym to make the most of their expensive memberships. However it’s actually saving money which causes people to lose sleep and even get ill even though it’s something that you can learn to do from an early age.
When you start to receive your own pocket money from your parents you don’t think “great, that’s going in the bank account.” You initially think about what you’re going to buy, a thought that millions of people still have when they’re at the age where they’re handing out pocket money to their own children.
As a child you’re likely to spend your money on sweets, magazines and books, maybe a computer game or perhaps an app for your tablet or something like a new pair of football boots (which will obviously take some saving or substantial investment from the Bank of Mum and Dad). As an adult, it’s more likely to be bills, credit cards, car repairs, fuel, food shops and clothes – which are all much more expensive than a bar of chocolate!
This is where it really does pay to pass on your experience to your kids as soon as possible, teaching them the value of money from the moment they get their first installment of pocket money. If they learn how to budget, how to save and how to resist the temptations to spend that money; they’re much more likely to find themselves in a solid financial footing when they get to the age where they’re paying for houses and car repairs.
One great place to start is with a savings account. Rather than handing them the money like our parents may have done, put it straight into an account each week – you can even do it as a direct debit if you like, however works for you. This way they don’t have the temptation of money burning a hole in their pocket that they have to go out and spend and, because it’s in a savings account, they actually earn more money from the bank in interest by leaving it in there.
Another suggestion is to explain to them how accountancy firms like Alexander & Co in Manchester work and how they help businesses to look after significant sums of money. While they might only be given £5 each week, professional accountants have to help companies look after thousands to ensure that they are making more than they are spending.
In connection, you can start to teach them how to budget for the short and long-term. Budgeting is the kind of thing that is easy to plan but difficult to maintain – especially when unexpected bills come in or you end up spending more than you anticipated by accident.
The best way to teach them is to sit down together with a pen, paper and calculator to show them how to add up their income and expenditure, subtracting the money going out from the money coming in to see what is left over. This is their available money and that needs dividing by the number of days until the next amount of income – you can show them your own salary if it’s easier because you need to work it out anyway.
They can then learn how to spend only what it is available so that (hopefully) they never end up in debt and learn how to resist the temptation to spend and start making money rather than making ends meet.