finance

“My 3 kids under 10 don’t know the value of money. So, here’s what we’re trying this year.”

Commonwealth bank
Thanks to our brand partner, Commonwealth bank

"Are you going to get some money from the magic money machine, Mum?" my kids would often ask. The 'magic money machine' in question was, of course, the local ATM. 

I would patiently explain that it wasn’t magic that made the money appear, but the hard work Mum and Dad did.

Unfortunately, they kind of lost interest when magic was taken off the table. And it made me realise how little they understood about money, where it comes from and how it’s used.

And who could blame them? With so much of the world going digital, it's hard to know a lot about something that you can't actually 'see'. 

So, now that my kids are older, we've started focusing more on building their financial literacy skills. From opening a Youthsaver account to mastering a budget, here are the four key things we're doing to help them better understand the value of money. 

1. Opening a bank account with visibility.

My kids have had bank accounts since they were born. But, until recently, they weren’t something tangible. They were something they’d been told about and understood in vague terms, but how money got in there and what happened when it did, was a mystery. 

Signing up for a Youthsaver account with the Commonwealth Bank has meant we have access to the Commbank Youth App which has allowed our kids to ‘see’ where their money is and how it is accumulating. 

We love that the kids can set a savings goal and log their chores and pocket money within the app as it shows the direct link between work, earning capacity and mindful spending. 

My son is currently saving for a Virtual Reality headset and though it’s a big goal, he can steadily chip away at it with a clear idea of where his savings currently sit and where they need to be.

Image: Supplied. 

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2. Making pocket money work in real time.

Our kids are old enough now to receive pocket money for specific chores. 

These chores are different to the expectations we have for them to help around the house and contribute to the smooth running of our family. 

For example, getting themselves dressed and organised for school, packing their school bags, or helping with the dishwasher are what we’d consider part of everyday life. Cleaning out the cat litter, walking the dog (and carrying out a backyard ‘poo patrol’), helping with the vacuuming or mopping the floor are chores which carry monetary value. 

When they are completed, the kids have the option to receive ‘cash’ or have the money deposited into their accounts. 

Image: Supplied. 

If they haven’t completed any pocket money worthy tasks, then they don’t receive anything. And if they don’t receive anything, their Youthsaver account or piggy bank balance doesn’t change. 

“I wanted to buy XYZ after school, but I don’t have any money,” used to be a common refrain in the house. Now that they have some tools to earn that money, we hear it less often. And they’re slowly realising that money just doesn’t magically appear when we want it (if only!). It needs to be earned before it is spent.

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3. Getting a handle on budgeting.

I am the first to admit that I would rather live a life with endless amounts of money and no budget. Alas, until I find that business idea (or money tree), that is not an option.

Budgets are important and a skill I wish I’d learned more about as a youngster.

With tap and pay, and automated payments, it’s rare that the kids see money changing hands or appreciate the forethought that goes into purchases. 

This is why I have started to involve them more in our online shopping each week. 

I will tell them how much we’ve budgeted for groceries and then fill our (virtual) cart with what we need. The first few times we did this, there were a whole bunch of items added that weren’t on the list but ‘looked really yummy.’ 

Unsurprisingly, the grand total was way over the amount we’d budgeted. And so the kids had to go back and work out what could be taken out to get back on track. 

Image: Supplied. 

Slowly but surely, they’re starting to see the importance of tracking their spending, and making the money they do have work harder. 

Instead of selecting the $5 bag of flour, they’ll look for the $3 bag of the same size and use that money saved for something else. It actually ends up being a fun little challenge each week that not only teaches them about budgeting, but also develops important numeracy skills for school.

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We’ve also applied budgeting to purchases the kids want to make by using some of the resources available on CommBank website like The Beanstalk and Start Smart. These resources are specifically designed for kids and teens to learn more about financial literacy, budgeting, saving and smart spending.

4. Becoming app savvy.

Like most kids, mine enjoy the odd app during their screen time of a weekend. 

The problem with apps however is that often, the kids have no idea how much they cost, especially if there is a monthly subscription or those sneaky in-app purchases. 

We had the situation a little while ago where my son (with my permission) downloaded an app to help him identify different plants and insects in the garden. It was a very useful and, dare I say it, educational app that I was happy for him to use. 

What we didn’t realise was that after the trial period, we’d be automatically charged for a yearly subscription if we didn’t cancel within the designated time. (Let’s just say that I was reasonably befuddled when $89 disappeared from my account and he’ll be off plant and bug identifying for the next 52 weeks.)

After this happened, we sat down to discuss apps, their cost, how they often do ‘cost money’ even when they appear free and how we could best manage. 

The kids drew up an ‘app budget’ that they would contribute to each month via their Youthsaver accounts, and they could choose which apps they’d like to spend their cash on (with our permission). 

It’s given them a much clearer picture of how the little purchases really add up and helped them track their spending and choose more wisely each month.

The Commonwealth Bank is supporting you for a brighter future by offering a range of accounts and resources to families to help build financial literacy skills in children and teens.

With expert guidance, videos and activities for young kids and teens, CommBank has all you need to teach your children about money. Find out more about the Youthsaver account here.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. You should consider seeking financial advice before making any decision based on this information.

The target market for this product will be found within the product’s Target Market Determination, available here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Commonwealth bank
CommBank offers financial support to families through a range of online resources, helping you towards a brighter future. Our Youthsaver account is designed to teach under 18’s how to save by offering bonus interest and no account fees. Supporting you for a brighter future. Brought to you by CommBank