Earn, save, spend and donate - four habits children should learn

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 September, 2011, 12:00am


There are four habits parents should be teaching children when it comes to money management, according to Dr Alice Wilder an internationally recognised children's education specialist. They are: earn, save, spend and donate.

These are the four concepts which Wilder, working with Prudential and Cartoon Network, has used in the making of Cha-Ching, a new cartoon aimed at helping parents build money-smart values in children aged seven to 12.

'Kids tend to do what they see us do as adults, and what they see us do most often is spending,' says Wilder, speaking at the launch of the television programme in Hong Kong.

'The really wonderful thing about having this multimedia platform is that it takes these more abstract non-visible parts of the money process - earn, save and donate - and makes them visible through the magic of media.

'One of the things about saving which really children don't see too much is that saving is so important and difficult because it involves self-control and this whole notion of delayed gratification.'

Each concept plays an important role in teaching children about money. 'The principles of earn, save, spend and donate show children they have choices with their money,' she says.

Earn - Experts recommend parents try to give children a realistic idea of money values by talking about how much their spending money could buy. They should let them know that everything costs money, and that money is earned through hard work. Wilder says one of the main goals of Cha-Ching is to get across to children that money really doesn't grow on trees, and that money is much easier to spend than earn.

Save - This is one of the most difficult concepts for children to understand, as it involves self-control and delayed gratification, says Wilder. She suggests parents should talk to their children about what they would like to save for, as well as their short-term and long-term goals. The traditional savings box is a good first step and introduces the concept of saving before spending, says Wilder, but the bank account is better for long-term saving because it puts the money out of sight and out of mind.

Spend - This is something parents do all the time and it is okay to let children to spend as long as they are encourage to differentiate between what they want and what they actually need, says Wilder. In its parents' guide, the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants uses an example of deciding whether to buy a branded or cheaper non-branded pair of trainers, and recommends parents talk about the 'want' and 'need' issue, even if they intend to buy the branded trainers.

Donate - 'Money is not all about accumulating wealth, and it is our duty is to make sure we take care of others as well,' says Wilder. 'In the programme, we wanted to show children this is another of the choices they can make with their money and it is a very important one. We also wanted to show that charity can be about donating services or giving old toys away.

'The important thing is to get into the habit of donating.'