Experts in the Media

Sarah Wells – The Australian &

Business and Money expert

How parents can use school as a tool to train young money minds.

Back to school has been busier, and weirder, than ever before for Australian children, but still offers a chance for parents to instil fresh financial knowledge.

While schools are often criticised for not including enough lessons about money management and financial literacy, banking and finance specialist Sarah Wells says mums and dads should be teaching money skills as part of day-to-day life.

“Going back to school is an event … so sit down with kids and have that conversation that things cost money,” Wells says.

“Parents often feel that in order for their children to thrive at school they need to buy new,” she says.

“But buying second hand or ‘new to you’ items is an opportunity to teach your child financial literacy.”

Wells suggests taking children shopping for their weekly school snacks and giving them a budget – perhaps $10 – that they must stick to.

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She says spending money can have a bigger impact than any textbook, but family conversations should be modified to suit a child’s age.

“A conversation with a 14-year-old about a MacBook is different to a conversation with a seven-year-old around an expensive Disney backpack or coloured pencils.”

There are other ways to boost children’s financial literacy. Teach longer-term planning by setting a monthly limit for lunch orders that the children must navigate. And bring older teenagers into family budget discussions.