SingaporeMotherhood | Preschooler & Up

March 2013

Is my Child Financially Literate?

As parents we spend much of our time experimenting with different ways to teach our children our values and what we consider to be the right behavior. No parent ever gets it
right the first time (or even every time), and moreover, each child is unique and may learn differently.

Because the field of financial literacy is so nascent there are no tried and tested methods
which can guarantee you absolute success in teaching your children sound money management
So how do you actually know if your way is working? Is Junior going to enter the workforce
completely paralysed by a lack of knowledge about what to do with his or her pay cheque
(apart from having a lot fun with the sudden influx of cash)?

Or will you be one of the relieved and (secretly) proud parents of children who are making all the right decisions around building their wealth for the future?

Here is the Playmoolah view on what a financially literate child might look like:

Able to control impulse behaviour (with prompting)

A dear friend who qualifies for the Supermum tag has two lovely girls who are reasonably
rewarded with gifts during Christmas and their birthdays. However, for a number of
years now they have stopped asking for ANY toys, clothes, girly trinkets outside of these
occasions. Sound unbelievable?

Well, Supermum admitted to teaching her daughters from a very young age to wait for their birthdays or Christmas (to control the urge to ask for random things) and to prioritise what they want for those occassions.

Able to save for a goal

Another friend has an adorable eight-year-old son – let’s call him Matthew – who desired an eye wateringly expensive Lego set. He worked out that even with his generous parents and grandparents’ gifts of money, he was going to have to wait for two birthdays and a Christmas before he would be able to get the set that he wanted. So he came up with his own plan to acquire his dream set earlier.
piggy bank
For three months he did extra chores around the house, folding laundry, washing dishes, and washing the dog to top up his allowance. The set was his before the end of the year. Extrapolate that behaviour and for an eight-year-old with a weekly allowance of $8, the ability to save for that $490 set is pretty similar to a new graduate saving for his or her first investment. What this behaviour promotes later on in life is the discipline to save, to remain focused on achieving a stretch goal, and probably less reliance on immediate gratification.

Is aware of the true value of products

The smart value shoppers are at an advantage here. You know about modelling the behaviour that you want your children to learn from. A shrewd bargain hunter once shared that she brings her daughters to annual sales to teach them about the value of products, to comparison-shop and to look for sales and discounts. She admitted to feelings of pride when her eldest daughter once remarked, “That’s a rip off, I can get that cheaper somewhere else”.

Although there are always products we feel are worth the premium pricing, this smart shopper has started to raise the awareness of value with her children.

Many 20-something year olds admit to almost no knowledge of how to begin saving and some think they are too old to feel that way, wishing that they had better money management skills.

As with all skills that take time to master, the earlier these behaviours are ingrained, the more comfortable a person becomes with practicing, experimenting and building on their knowledge. After all, I know primary school-aged children who seem to be doing a great job of mastering some of the basics thanks to their mothers’ early intervention.

PlayMoolah is an award-winning online platform created to help children (6 to 12 years old) learn about money. Log on to for a free trial account and subscribe for postings on finance and online games for children by sending an email to [email protected] with the word “Subscribe” in the Subject line. DearAddy is a doting mother of two boys, former finance professional, marketer and mummy-in-residence for

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Is my Child Financially Literate?