Whatever a child saves through work (apprenticeship wages, vacation or part-time job) or from pocket money belongs to them. Your child is free to decide how to spend their savings.

We recommend talking to them about money when they are still very young and letting them practice handling it on their own. For example, if your child wants to buy a game console with their own savings, that’s their right. But how can parents best help their children make such decisions?

1. Talk as equals about goals and wishes

Take your children’s preferences seriously. That doesn’t mean you have to satisfy their heart’s desire. But ask them why they want that specific item. Are they interested in a new hobby, or will they feel excluded by friends if they don’t join in? Talk about what you yourself would like to buy and what you consider before you make your decision.

2. Start with small purchases

Ideally, your child has already had the opportunity to save up for something less expensive before buying an expensive game console and was able to buy it thanks to saving towards that goal. They will have already learned to choose between different purchases and know what it means when their savings, or a part of them, are gone.

3. Define the reason for the purchase

As soon as it becomes clear that your child will soon be earning their own money, it makes sense to sit down and talk with them about how they intend to spend it. Does your child have a specific goal or no plan at all? When it comes to wages earned from an apprenticeship, this is an opportunity to create a budget. Talk to them about paying a fixed amount for their board, that is by contributing to the household budget by paying some of their own income to their parents.

4. Discuss upkeep costs together

If your child wants to buy something that involves ongoing costs – such as a scooter – discuss with them what this means. Who will pay if the scooter breaks down and how expensive might repairs be? Who will pay for gasoline? What about insurance? Such expenses are often forgotten. It’s best if young people draw up a small annual budget that includes these expenses.

5. Wait instead of buying immediately

What do you do before you make a major decision? Sleep on it overnight? Give it a week? Talk this over with your child and try to agree on a waiting period before they make their purchase. If you talk about goals and wishes early, the next step is usually saving and waiting. During this time, the desire may change or become less urgent. If the intent is still there after some time has passed, the purchase would seem to be genuinely important to your child.

6. Learn lessons for future savings goals by looking back

How often do you buy something you later regret? For example, that shirt hanging in your closet that you almost never wear. Buying decisions that you would not make the same way later are part of the learning process, and will happen to your child, too. Look back together a few weeks after the vacation money was spent on the game console. Was it the right decision and why? The next desired purchase is sure to come.

Key points at a glance:

  • Savings from pocket money and work belong to the child. They are free to decide how to spend them.
  • The savings goals of children and parents are not always the same. Talk about these goals with your child and take their wishes seriously.
  • Make your child aware of follow-up costs (maintenance, insurance) and draw up a realistic budget together.
  • Take a closer look before they start their first vacation job or an apprenticeship. What are their plans for the income and who will cover which expenses?

UBS’s educational principles

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.