Why you need to give your children a financial education

Faced with the economic hardships we are going through, some parents think they are doing the right thing and protecting their offspring for as long as possible from the future financial disappointments that await them by keeping silent on the matter.

A big mistake according to Béatrice Copper Royer, clinical psychologist, specialist in childhood and adolescence, who asks for a better knowledge of money since primary school.

What does financial education actually consist of?

Beatrice Copper Royer It is about teaching children the concept of money and showing them that it is a reality like any other that cannot be ignored. From a certain age, they must understand that we do not “live on love and fresh water”, that our way of life has a cost and that every family has a budget to manage it.

Why is it so important to educate them on the subject?

This education is a parental responsibility. It is not only the speech that counts, but also the example. Many adults mismanage their budgets, a quarter of the population is in surplus each month. This prompts some people to use consumer credit and many end up with huge debts. Knowing how to manage your budget, from an early age, guarantees a long-term life balance.

Is it even more important after experiencing a pandemic?

Obviously. It is important to show that no one is immune from financial worries and that the family can go through difficult times. It is very commendable not to want to clutter children with these problems, but one must not hide everything. Especially since parents whose jobs have been hit by the health crisis feel worried, far from being ignored by their children. Be careful, however, not to insist too much on the truth. This can be unsafe, especially for little ones. I met a patient in the middle of a divorce who told her 9-year-old daughter: “I hope we don’t sleep under the bridge.” The latter had taken the metaphor for face value and suffered from it. With the little ones we reassure them by saying that we have what we need for our needs and that we must make choices about the superfluous.

Knowing how to manage your budget, from an early age, guarantees a long-term life balance


From what age should they be “educated”?

At the end of primary school, around 10-11 years old. Below this age, the notion of money is still too abstract. The little ones are not independent enough, they cannot go home alone or do the shopping yet. When kids are older, pocket money is a great way to boost them. They discover the pleasure of affording something but also the limitations related to money that adults already know well: the waiting and frustration to buy something that exceeds the budget. Through this management we also see the characters being formed, independently from those of the parents. There are the spenders and those who hoard, the grasshoppers who can’t get enough and the ants who plan everything.

How should this pocket money be framed?

Parents agree on an amount appropriate to age and needs. In the case of young people, this money is distributed on a weekly basis and as they grow up, the distribution is spaced out on a monthly basis. Children do what they want with pocket money. If the savings disappear quickly, on the contrary, it is a good lesson for the child. In this way, by letting him do it, he will realize by himself that he is a punctured basket. And most importantly, parents don’t have to break and fill in the gaps. For teens, this monthly budget marks a step into adult life because it somewhat resembles salary. If the young person spends a lot, parents can try to confront him and explain that waiting to afford a nice gift is more rewarding than compulsively spending on products of little interest. And we can make them more responsible by giving them the money they need to cover transport and meals.

Through money management, we see the formation of characters, independent of parents

What if you are limited by your finances and want to give more?

We discuss it with children when they can feel it, around 10-11 years old. We explain to them that for the moment we are saving our money on essentials, rent, food, clothes. If the child insists and asks for consolation, for example, we can offer to wait for a return of the money for his birthday, from his grandparents, his godmother or his godfather. We must not close the prospects and leave a little hope at the end.

How to explain that money is sometimes so taboo within the family?

It is very cultural. We don’t have that American relaxation with money. This moderation is certainly linked to our Judeo-Christian upbringing, which considered this subject dirty and anything but noble. In view of history, people of the nobility preferred to emphasize the moral virtues of courage rather than pecuniary advantages. All this remains very paradoxical today as we live in a consumer society and children are important actors.

The role of parents is not to control expenses. Children do what they want with pocket money

Is opening a bank account a solution to check and learn how to manage your expenses?
Yes. We are dealing with a very enterprising and autonomous generation when it comes to ordering purchases online, but some teens do not take responsibility because they still use their parents’ credit card and therefore have a rather blurred view of what it represents. their purchases. Banks are adapting and offering specific offers for young people aged 10 to 12, without overdraft permits. The teenager can consult her bank statements on a mobile application and track her daily expenses. She also uses a bank card linked to her account and finally understands what this very abstract means of payment used by adults is for. For each expense, a row on the statement and a decreasing budget.

Some parents bargain with their child for a good report card or for a few francs of housework. It’s a good idea?

As for housework, I am not in favor of this concept. We can clean the cutlery and put it in the dishwasher without being paid, it is part of family solidarity: everyone helps each other and the sharing of tasks is good. On the other hand, if the child reports a good relationship, why not offer him a reward. It is best if the money materializes into a real gift. But it doesn’t have to be a carrot every time to get a good grade. In that case, a permanent reward system would be activated, so that the children enter a system of blackmail and systematic negotiations.

Should we worry when our teenager aspires to a job primarily for its pecuniary benefits? How to basically tell him that “money doesn’t buy happiness”?

There is no need to formalize. It is a motivation like many others that can evolve during your studies. The right reaction is to explain to your child that the ideal is to combine this aspiration with the pleasure that work gives us, because it is a daily task, repeated throughout the year. However, this conversation can be an occasion to remember that joy and joy do not always go through unbridled material consumption. Baking a cake, dancing to music, playing a board game also brings joy, which is free.

Tiphaine Honnet / Le Figaro

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