Here’s how to stay on a budget, and teach the kids to do it

Top money-saving tips from the experts

Here’s how to stay on a budget, and teach the kids to do it

When it comes to saving, and teaching the kiddies about the value of money, things can get a bit tricky. There are just so many places to go to in the UAE, and as much as the Time Out UAE Kids team tries to suggest budget-friendly outings, we know it can be quite hard to resist temptation. So, we asked the expert – and some mum influencers – to give us some tips on how to keep things in check when heading out with the brood.

“We focus on the bigger picture,” says Marilyn L. Pinto, founder and managing director of Kids Finance Initiative, a centre that offers programmes which promote financial literacy. “What we’re great at is teaching kids how to be more financially aware, and this then leads them to become more conscious of their spending and saving decisions,” says Pinto.

Research has shown that kids who enrol in financial education courses are more likely to save, and less likely to become compulsive buyers or max out their credit cards later in life.

“One of the first lessons we impart in our classes is how to distinguish between wants and needs and prioritise one over the other. This concept alone, though simple, forms the basis of teaching kids how to save,” she adds.

While direct lessons from parents can help shape a child’s perception of money, kids learn best through demonstration – meaning that they listen to and notice what you do, not what you say. “It’s very difficult to train a child to become more financially aware if you’re a financial wreck,” explains Pinto.

Helping kids set and work toward financial goals is another good way to teach them. If there’s something a child really wants, help them plan for that purchase. “Teaching kids about money is never just about money. It’s about character, responsibility, self- control and delayed gratification,”she highlights.

“Most parents haven’t had the money talk with their kids. And who can blame us?

“We aren’t given a lesson plan, so we’re not entirely sure of what to say or how best to go about teaching our kids good money management skills. We’re also afraid that saying the wrong thing might send them careening into a life of debt and financial despair,” says Pinto.

“We haven’t had much formal training on the subject ourselves, and mostly learned from trial and error, and by making expensive mistakes –none of which we’d like to elaborate on.”

When it comes to teaching kids about money, one of the most important factors is to start early. As soon as they say “I want” would be a good time to talk about how the dirhams, dollars and euros work.

“Don’t lecture. Kids switch off when we get into lecture mode, so don’t. Instead, use stories to illustrate a point. Also, avoid the gender gap.

Research shows that parents are more likely to talk to their sons, rather than their daughters, about money and investing. Don’t do that,” says Pinto.

Another smart move would be to always share the responsibility. Research shows that kids are more likely to ask their mum about money matters. More often than not – no matter how successful these women are at work – they play the “ask your dad” card, thus signalling to their kids that money is a man’s domain.

Pinto also advises mums and dads to look out for modelling what she calls “bad money behaviour” as it’s crucial to practice any habits you’d like for them to adopt. This can include manic grocery shopping patterns.

“Prepare a weekly meal plan before you go grocery shopping. This way you, only buy what you need. I’ve now even gone further and invested in a home delivery service, a company called Hello Chef, which sets out four main meals a week. Included in each weekly delivery is everything I need to prepare the meals. I no longer go out and buy meats, chicken or seafood as it’s part of the delivery. I only receive what I need and there’s never any wasted food,” says mum-of-four Taghred Chandab.

Bad money behaviour also includes regularly ordering takeout. “We’ve stopped buying our regular morning coffee from a café and are making it at home, taking to work our own coffee in thermos cups,” says PR mama and mum-of-two Lucy Holmes.

Remember, spending habits start at home. Swap everyday dining out for takeout Tuesdays, plan ahead and make sure that the kids see you every step along the way. Don’t forget to sign them up for a course – or even boot camp – if they need a bit more, too.
From Dhs1000 (per course). Kids Finance Initiative, Dubai Knowledge Park (055 108 4499).

Quick tips

  • They call her Mrs Money. Keren Bobker, senior partner at Holborn Assets and author of financial uae.com, tells us all about teaching kids how to save
  • A money box is a great plan as the child can see exactly what they have saved, and it’s personal to them.
  • Teach them to pay in cash, count the change, and realise that money is real, not just an abstract concept when using a piece of plastic.
  • Get them involved in grocery shopping by asking them to compare prices and work out the best value items.
  • Play games that involve money. There are quite a few board games, plus plenty online, where they need to calculate and spend money.
  • When travelling, either to your home country or a holiday, get them involved in handling the different currency. The novelty is interesting.
  • There are lots of children’s books that have messages about money, where they will learn without even realising it.
  • Get your child involved when it comes to buying a gift for a friend’s birthday. Give them a budget so they can decide what to buy up to a limit.
  • If you’re having a clear out, get your kids to do the same too.

Holborn Assets, Al Shafar Tower, Barsha Heights, Dubai (04 457 3800).

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