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How to talk to your parents about money

Kamahl Cogdon, December 13, 2020 2:30PM Kids News

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Kids used to be taught that money doesn’t grow on trees. These days the lesson is that money doesn’t magically appear on your mobile phone. media_cameraKids used to be taught that money doesn’t grow on trees. These days the lesson is that money doesn’t magically appear on your mobile phone.


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Kids used to be told by their parents that “money doesn’t grow on trees”.

Talk about obvious, right?

But what that saying meant was that money wasn’t just there and easy to get; it was much harder to come by than that and had to be earned.

Today, that saying could be replaced by “money doesn’t magically appear on your mobile phone”.

While the sayings might have changed over the years, the lesson is the same — helping kids understand the value of money.

Son Receiving Pocket Money After Completing List Of Chores media_cameraThere are many questions kids can ask their parents to kickstart a conversation about money.

Learning about money is just as important to your future as learning to read and write, but it can be much harder today when we don’t see actual cash as often as we used to. Buying something is now often just a tap or click away.

While some money lessons come from school, research shows most kids get their financial knowledge from their parents.

So it’s a good idea to talk to your parents about money, and you don’t need to wait for them to start the conversation.

There are many questions you can ask that will help you become what is known as “financially literate”, which basically means you know about money, including how it’s earned, what it’s worth, how to spend it responsibly* and how to save it.

Crop grandfather and grandchildren saving money media_cameraKids get most of their money knowledge from their parents so it’s a good idea to start talking about money matters early.

You can get the conversation started by asking your parents questions like:

  • How do they divide their money between spending on essentials (like food, clothes and bills), spending on things they want rather than need (like a holiday or a new TV), and putting some away as savings?
  • How do they make their money last until the next time they get paid? And how can you do the same?
  • How do they make a budget*? For example, how do they plan how much they will spend and how much they will save?
  • What was their first job and how did they save money when they were young?
Hands full of money media_cameraSet your own savings goals and talk to your parents about the best way to achieve them.

Having your own savings goals can also help when talking to your parents about money. You can talk about the things you want, the things you need, and how long you would have to save or how many chores or hours of work you would have to do to reach those goals.

While your parents have different things they want and need to spend their money on, you can still learn a lot from them about how to manage your own money.

Westpac’s managing director for everyday banking, Mandy Rutherford, said the sooner kids started learning positive financial habits, the better.

“Saving and understanding the value of money from an early age can help to set you up to think smartly about money choices in the future,” Ms Rutherford said.

“Like most things, the more practice you get at saving, the better you get at it.

“Saving up for your first big purchase like a bicycle, then puts you in good stead to start saving for your first car.

“It is all about practice, a bit of discipline*, then reaping* the rewards and feeling that sense of achievement.”

Ms Rutherford encouraged kids to look for opportunities to practice and learn good money management habits from those around them.

“For example, a trip to the supermarket with mum or dad is a chance to learn about managing money,” she said. “How much money is required for the groceries you really need and how much money is left over for a treat or two?”

Happy family saving money together media_cameraYou can use a traditional piggy bank or ask your parents to set up a digital savings account for you.

While piggy banks were popular when your parents were kids, and are still used today, just like spending, saving is increasingly going digital.

“Setting up a savings account with online access is a great way to see your money grow in a digital environment,” Ms Rutherford said.

“You can ask your parents to deposit your allowance* and work with them to allocate money into different buckets to help you save for different things, like a gaming console you’ve had your eye on for a while, or a bigger purchase like a new laptop, or for those ‘just in case’ moments.”

Talk to your parents about savings accounts that are specially designed for kids. Many of these are online accounts that you can manage together and have parental controls so mum or dad can help you with your saving and spending. Many also offer bonuses for regular saving.


  • responsibly: carefully and sensibly
  • budget: a plan for spending and saving
  • discipline: ability to follow the rules
  • reaping: receiving
  • allowance: pocket money


How to take your financial first steps

Phones and watches are an increasingly popular way to pay

What type of saver are you?


  1. What does the saying “money doesn’t grow on trees” mean?
  2. Who do kids learn most of their financial information from?
  3. Name two items that are considered “essentials” when it comes to spending.
  4. Name an item that is considered a “want” rather than a “need”.
  5. Name one of the suggested questions about money that you could ask your parents.


1. Life’s savings
Saving up for large purchases is something that people do throughout their lives. Over time, their incomes, circumstances and priorities may change, meaning that the things they are saving towards will be different at various stages of life. Glue a few sheets of paper together (end to end) to create a long strip. Write some age brackets along the top of your strip to divide it into parts. (Suggested age brackets: 0-10; 11-15; 16-20; 21-30; 31-45; 46-60; 61-75; 75+) Draw or cut and paste pictures to create a visual of the things you think people save for at different stages of their life.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; HASS/Economics and Business

2. Extension
“Money doesn’t grow on trees” is an example of an idiom – a phrase that if interpreted literally doesn’t make much sense, but that is commonly used and has a culturally understood meaning. Below are some more idioms – write an explanation for each one.

  • beat around the bush
  • bite the bullet
  • hang in there
  • let someone of the hook
  • pull someone’s leg
  • under the weather

Can you think of any other idioms you have heard?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity 
Curriculum Links: English

Opener Up-Level It
Make a list of all the openers in the article. Pick three that repeat and see if you can replace them with another word, or shuffle the order of the sentence to bring a new opener to the front.

Don’t forget to re-read the sentence to make sure it still makes sense, and that it actually sounds better.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What money question would you like to ask your parents?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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