Finally it’s the weekend! And your family is out in the fresh air again. But there’s temptation everywhere you look in the form of an ice cream shop or a kiosk. Your kids can hardly contain themselves and would happily eat more ice cream than they have room in their tummies – while spoiling their appetite for dinner at the same time. How can you prevent all the food stands and ice cream shops from leading you to financial ruin? Is there a cheaper option that the kids will enjoy but will also teach them the concept of saving?
Can children understand the cost of things?
When the little ones constantly ask their parents whether they can buy them this or that, their answer is normally: “Do you know how much that costs?” And, no, they probably don’t. And how could they know whether 10 Swiss francs is a lot of money or what else they could buy with it? It’s normal that they don’t because understanding the monetary value of this amount is something that kids will learn through experience. They usually start learning about numbers in kindergarten. But there are still opportunities for you to show your child what things cost and that money can be saved as well as spent. So what are these opportunities?
Tip 1: Do it yourself
Take food from home when you next go on a day out and show your kids the amount of money you saved by doing so. Or even better: get your kids involved in preparing snacks for your day out such as popcorn, granola bars and muffins. You could then put the money you’ve saved into a family savings jar to do or buy something nice as a family. This makes saving more fun. You could even print a photo of what you’re aiming to do or buy and stick it to the savings jar. Or even better, draw a picture of it together.
Tip 2: Define your budget
Before your next family day out, agree on a budget and demonstrate it to your kids using 20-franc notes. Shop with your kids and show them your change. If you want to, you can put this money into the family savings jar too. After all, it's money you saved by planning your expenses together in advance.
Tip 3: Avoid spontaneous purchases
Regardless of how well you budget in advance, you’ll sometimes be faced with spontaneous purchase decisions. To avoid temptation, always refer back to the family savings goal. Take a photo on your smartphone of the picture or drawing you stuck to the family savings jar. Then, when you’re standing at the kiosk debating whether the kids can have both a drink and an ice cream, looking at the photo of what the family is saving for should end the debate quickly.
Don’t forget: These tips apply to the whole family. It’s not just important for the kids to learn about saving – it’s an issue that the whole family should keep in mind. Maybe your child will learn today that they shouldn't spend all their pocket money at once, and that it can actually be fun to put their pennies into a piggy bank instead.
The highlights in a nutshell
- Don’t be too strict with yourself or your family. Teaching the topic of saving to your kids might not go smoothly every time. In fact, that’s expected. Remember: it should be fun!
- Put the money into a transparent jar or glass so you can see how much money you, as a family, have collected.
- Having a goal makes saving more fun. Print out a picture of your savings goal or draw a picture together and stick it to your savings jar.
- When it comes to their first savings goal, your child will likely use the savings methods introduced to them in their early childhood.
UBS’s educational principles
This article was written in collaboration with educator Marianne Heller, who has years of experience in teaching financial education and debt prevention programs for children and young people.