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What are the most important money lessons to teach children?

Published 4 September 2013 by

We're sure that everyone would agree that it's important to teach children about money from a young age. However, according to our new research, there is some disagreement about the number one money lesson to teach kids.

We found that over a third (37%) of British people think that 'If you can't afford it, don't buy it' is the best financial lesson for the younger generation. The full list is as follows:

  • If you can't afford it, don't buy it (37%)
  • Always live within your means (23%)
  • Try to save at least something every month (16%)
  • Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves (9%)
  • Money can't buy you happiness (8%)
  • Always try to avoid borrowing money (7%)

We also asked the kids themselves to weigh in - you can find out what they think about money in our adorable (and hilarious) 'Kids and Money' video,which you can watch here.

Age makes a difference

The differences in opinion come when we look at different age groups. The younger and older generations have very different ideas about what we should be teaching children about money.

For example, three times as many 18-24 year olds (25%) think it's important to teach children to 'always save something each month' than the over 65s (7%). Older people (31% of people aged over 65) think it's more important to teach children to 'always live within your means' - while just 13% of 18-24 year olds agree.

What do the kids think?

Although some adults think kids should know that 'money can't buy you happiness', we're not sure the kids agree with this. When we asked them what they'd buy with all the money in the world, they said they'd get loads of fun stuff like chocolate, Transformers and water pistols.

Many haven't quite grasped the true value of money yet, either. Estimates for 'what mummy and daddy earn' ranged between 1p and £5 - and a house costs between £1 and £2,000.

Watch the video here.

If you want to teach your child a little bit more about money, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Let them pay for small items. Give them the money to hand over and tell them how much they're paying
  • Give them a small amount of pocket money and encourage them to make it last for as long as they can
  • Encourage them to save by giving them a money box, and regularly count their savings with them to show them how much money can grow
  • If your child wants a new toy, search for deals with them online or in shops to show them how to spend their money as wisely as possible