How to pass on healthy savings habits to your children

When it comes to kids and money, how do you pass on healthy money habits to them? Our own early money experiences impact on our own money messages and money habits. These messages will be passes on to our children without us even being conscious about it. In my last blog, I gathered together lots of stories together about my own and other money bloggers earliest memories with money.

If we want to give the right money messages to our children, we have to work on our own money blocks first.

Start with your earliest experience with money – What did your parents say to you about money?

Some common phrases I hear are:

  • ‘You’ll get what you are given’ – indicates that you have no choice
  • ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’ – indicates that you can’t put down good roots
  • ‘We can’t afford it’ – What never afford it? This indicates that money controls us
  • ‘It is too expensive’ – Could indicate that dreams are out of reach

These kind of messages can give the wrong message to our little people about money. Think about re-phrasing them to give a more positive message.

How to pass on healthy savings habits to your children

Don’t just talk, do

Children pick up messages every single day. What you say to them will install messages that they will carry with them for their rest of their lives. If you hear yourself repeating the same messages, think about re-phrasing it and being a role model. For example rather than saying “it is too expensive,” you could reframe this to “let’s see how much we have and how much we need to save to get that.”

Don’t just talk to the talk – show them. Children will always remember how you made them feel more than what you said. Make what you say positive. If you want to be a role model for them, you have to do the doing.

Give them financial responsibility

When I was around 11 years old, my Mum and step dad took me and my brothers and sisters on a caravan holiday. We were each given £5 to buy our own dinner one evening. I don’t recall exactly what I purchased other than a pot noodle! My decision was made partially because of what I was rarely allowed to buy and partly based on buying the maximum number of items. I suppose my purchasing decisions were largely influenced by my palette but what a great exercise this was for us. The message here was choice. I was given the opportunity to make my own decisions.

Try giving your children a small amount of money each week to make their own decisions with. It could be as small as buying something from the supermarket or choosing their own dinner after school or at a restaurant.

Children’s money fact – Did you know that the average weekly pocket money for a child in the UK (age 8-18)  is £6.38 per week for boys and £6.48 for girls.*

Make money fun

Give them goals, give them something to save for.

Make it visual.

Pin up a picture of what they are saving for and help them see the benefits of saving each week. There is a FREE kids savings planner download below for you.

At my home with my two boys, who are aged 4 and 7, we use kilner jars. They just love spilling our their coins onto the kitchen floor each weekend to see what they have collected. When I go off to a speaker event or an evening coaching session and my boys ask why I have to work, I always tell them what that evenings work is worth. For example “I am off to speak to a group of women this evening about money and the money I earn from this will allow me to pay for your birthday party.” It helps them to visualise the value of money even at a young age.

Talk to them

Talk to your children about money. Making money private or not involving them in decisions, only gives them the message that money is shameful or secret. We need to be open with them about the families financial situation. Show them what you earn. Show them what you spend. What to save. How they can give.

Teach them about value

At Christmas and birthday times, try to resist the numbers game! Don’t spend for the sake of spending. Value is better than volume. And don’t feel guilty when you only buy them one or two items that they really want. The other items will only be forgotten about. Test it out – ask your child what they received for Christmas last year. I can almost guarantee you they won’t remember half of what you bought and neither will you!

Use television adverts or programmes to teach them about the value of money. A sofa advert that appears regularly with ‘this sofa is just £25 per month,have it delivered within 7 days,’ gives off the message that you can have items instantly. But what if you don’t have £1000 to buy that sofa? The marketing tactic of buy now and pay for it later has dragged you in. Talk to them about instant gratitude and how company adverts try to encourage spending money that you may not have.

This is also the perfect opportunity to talk to them about credit cards, loans and an overdraft. Don’t assume the banks will do this when they open their first accounts because after 17 years in banks, believe me they don’t!

Don’t compare

Wow this is a big one right! I spent years comparing my life to others. So much so that I spent money that I did not have to try to live up to high expectations. Expectations that I had placed on myself! Because I placed value in ‘stuff’. Forever buying new clothes or new items for my home. I had no idea what I was earning or what I was spending. If I wanted it, I got it. My emotions most definitely drove my spending habits. If I felt low, I would shop. For some, an emotional trigger may be food. Buying food to feel better. Remember that every individual has their own financial picture.

Play Shop

One of my youngest sons favourite games is pretend shops. Many parents role play this out with their children. As a result of playing shops your child will benefit from so many things. Top tips when playing shops:

  • Practice being an arsey customer! Asking for a refund, or negotiating a discount.
  • As children get older, talk to them about how to be savvy with their money.
  • Teach them what role cards and cash have when spending
  • Aside from the excellent maths skills this teaches them, you can talk to them about how businesses make money
  • Role play encourages their social skills and allows their imagination to run wild!

Final thoughts

If you set the money rules and give your children independence to manage their own money, they’ll soon blossom with confidence and develop positive money habits and healthy savings habits for life. Start right now, it is never too early!

*Statistics from Go Henry


Join The Money Circle membership

Join the next FREE Plug Your Money Leaks Challenge

Book in a complimentary call to discuss how financial coaching can help you move from financial overwhelm to confidence and control. 

Join Catherine’s Facebook Page and FREE Facebook Group

My Website 

My Online Courses – Investing for beginners from £1

My YouTube Channel 

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook 

Posted in ,


  1. Sam on April 2, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Wonderful post. This is such an important message! Teach kids good financial skills and they’ll be set for life.

  2. claire | The ladybirds adventures on April 7, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Such an important life skill to teach kids.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.