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How to talk to kids about money and the cost of living crisis (and where to go for help with childcare costs)
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Make learning about money fun
For younger children, the concept of money can be a difficult one to grasp. The more you teach them the basics about coins, money, and spending responsibly, the easier it will be when you have to explain why you can't afford something.
The good news is that there are loads of fantastic resources out there to help. For younger children, CBeebies Numberblocks and Numberjacks offer a great foundation in understanding numbers, which is the first step! Lesser known resources can also be great, as demonstrated by Loud and Clear Accounting’s video which tackles the question of Where does money come from? in a fun way.
The Moneyhelper website has a great guide on how to talk to kids about money, broken down into tips for different age groups, many of which are fun ways to get kids engaged.
Simple things like taking the kids shopping, and asking them to find the cheapest can of tomatoes or loaf of bread can help them to understand the idea of budgeting. For older kids, getting them to list their favourite activities, toys or clothes and guess the costs can help too.
How can I talk to my child about the cost of living crisis?
Once your children have a basic understanding of money, it will be easier for them to understand the concept of affordability. Debt advice charity Stepchange recommends being honest and direct when discussing money with children.
Be open and honest about money:
Don't be afraid to have honest conversations about money. Children may have noticed small changes to their lifestyle - from reductions in TV subscriptions to fewer treats or meals out. This change of circumstances gives parents an opportunity to start talking about the value of money, rising costs, and the need to make choices. Educating your children about avoiding debt, the cost of living, and the importance of saving will help your family now and in the future.
Keep financial education simple:
Keep your explanations simple and straightforward - e.g “The cost of X has gone up. We’ve decided not to pay for it anymore so that we can pay for X”. Children’s mental health charity YoungMinds advises parents not to overburden children with adult worries. Sharing worries about the cost of living may lead children to become anxious about losing their homes.
In fact, Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert, believes that money isn’t just a financial issue and points out that money problems can impact every area of our life, including mental health, happiness, work and relationships. To tackle the issue, Martin created a textbook, which is free to download from the Money Saving Expert website, to help young people embark on a journey towards financial freedom. The textbook includes chapters on: saving; making the most of your money; borrowing; the world of work; risk and reward; and security and fraud.
Teach kids about saving money and don't give in to ‘pester power’:
Getting your child to write down the things they want can help teach them that they can’t have everything they want right away. Teaching them about delayed gratification, and not giving in to ‘pester power’ can help build good financial habits for the future. Stepchange has a great guide to telling children you can’t afford something.
Be a good role model:
Setting a good example by showing your kids how to cope with financial hardship will help them to accept what you can and cannot afford.
Support for parents during the cost of living crisis
In a poll of 5000 parents by UK social change agency Nesta, almost 3 in 4 parents in London reported being worried about paying for rent and mortgage payments (74%) as well as loans and credit cards (74%), compared to just over half (58% for rent and mortgage and 53% for loans and credit cards) for the whole of the UK. At the same time, the poll revealed that 6 in 10 (60%) parents worried about being able to pay for activities for their child over the school holidays. There is lots of advice out there about how to heat your home for less, or preparing budget friendly family meals, but, at Pebble, we’re keen to make sure you’re maximising the childcare you get for your money - here are our top tips:
For every £8 you pay into an online childcare account, you receive a government top-up of £2, worth up to £2,000 a year per child under 12, or £4,000 if your child is disabled. This is true if you're self-employed, too. The money can be used with any approved childcare, including nurseries and childminders, after school clubs, or play schemes, too. Visit childcarechoices.gov.uk for info or to apply.
Don't forget child benefit:
If you or your partner earn more than £60,000 you don’t get it, but it is still worth looking into, because claiming gives you important national insurance top ups towards your state pension. Have a look at the EntitledTo website benefits finder for more information.
Free childcare for younger children:
Between the ages of 2-4, children may be entitled to receive 15 hours of free childcare/early learning per week, 38 weeks per year, with a an extra 15 hours a week of flexible free childcare for parents who work full time (entitling them to 30 hours a week for at least 38 weeks per year). Have a look at the government website on childcare for more information and eligibility criteria.
Universal credit or working tax credits:
You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. If you already claim tax credits, you can add an extra amount of Working Tax Credit to help cover the cost of childcare.
Look for childcare discounts:
Sign up for the Pebble newsletter, we often share discount codes that can help towards the costs of booking nursery places or children's activities.