Survey highlights the importance of teaching children about money

The Momentum UK Team 02 September 2013

A survey released today by thinkmoney reveals what Brits think are the most important lessons to teach children about money, with some surprising results.

Voted as the most important financial lesson to pass on to children, by 37% of people, was “if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it”. This was followed by “always live within your means” (23%), “try to save at least something each month” (16%), “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” (9%) and “money can’t buy you happiness” (8%).

The data reveals differences between age groups, some of which may be surprising. Although they tend to be on lower incomes and have relatively few financial commitments, 18-24 year olds were three times as likely as the over 65s to rank “try to save at least something each month” as the most important money tip for the next generation. The financial lesson deemed most important by those over retirement age was “always live within your means”.

Alongside the research, thinkmoney released a video in which children are interviewed about money, showing that they certainly could use some guidance on the subject. Estimates by the children on the approximate value of a house ranged from £1 to £2,000, and their guesses at how much mummy or daddy earns came in between 1p and £5. When asked “who is the richest person you know?” one child replied “Santa.”

Of course, at such a young age it is not so important for children to know the ins and outs of adult finances. However it can be a good idea for parents to introduce the concept early. Ian Williams of thinkmoney said:

“It's funny to see all the ideas that kids come up with about money. It's important to try and show them the value and importance of money from an early age, though, for example by giving them a money box and a small amount of pocket money each week. How you encourage them to use that money is up to you.”

In February this year, the government agreed to add personal finance to the national curriculum in secondary schools for the first time, with lessons starting next month. This move came after pressure from MPs and organisations like the Personal Finance Education Group, who believe that sound financial education from a young age is essential to preventing people getting into difficulties later in life.