Saving for your child's future is one of the most important things you can help them with, and other family and friends can help too. With these steps you can help build up a healthy savings account for them to access when they turn 18, and by involving them in the process you'll teach them the value of money and saving from an early age.
Decide which account is best for your child
Start teaching them from a young age
When you deposit money take your child with you
Encourage them to earn their savings
Keep a chart
Set up a standing order
Add little and often
Look out for vouchers and sales
Allow them to make mistakes
It's important to decide which account is best for your child, with the two main options being a Junior ISA, and a Junior Savings Account. The two are fairly similar but with one big difference; with an ISA your child automatically gets control of the account when they turn 18 so you need to decide if you're willing to trust your child to be sensible with that money at the age of 18. A Junior Saver gives you more control over the account, and when your child is 16 you can decide whether to give them some control over it, or continue to control it until you feel they're ready. There are also differences with the tax you'll be charged however, if you plan on paying in less than £10,600 per year, you simply need to fill in an R85 form so your child won't pay tax on a Junior Saver. If your child was born on or before 31 August 2002 and on or after 3 January 2011, they won't be eligible for a Junior ISA as they would have had a government Child Trust fund set up for them instead which they can gain access to when they turn 16.
Learning the value of money is a great lesson to learn when you're young. As soon as they're old enough to walk and talk let them help you pay for things; if you're buying a newspaper encourage your child to hand the money over to the cashier and take the change. You can also play fun games with them such as 'shops' where you have an imaginary supermarket or toy shop and can chat to them about saving and spending money while playing. It could also help get them ready for school.
While standing in line at the bank is about as exciting for your child as a trip to the supermarket, when they're old enough to understand how money works, it is worth taking your child with you to the bank whenever you pay money into their savings account. You can remind them that you're saving for their future - for them to put towards a house or a car they'd like, and get them involved in the process of handing the money over and seeing how much is in there.
Start them off with a clear jar and encourage them to help with chores around the house to earn their pocket money; it can be something small such as making their bed, clearing the table or helping you wash the car. Reward them for this 'work' by paying them whatever you see fit per chore. Not only will they be learning to be patient with saving up for something, it'll help them to spend the money they earned wisely.
It can be difficult to know exactly how much money is in a piggy bank, so set up a chart and put it somewhere your child can easily see it. Help them to write down their target amount, and help them to track each time they add money to their piggy bank and how much was added. This gives them a really visual way of seeing how close they are to their goal, and will keep them motivated to save until they reach the set amount!
Even if it's as little as £20 a month, setting up a standing order so money is going into your child's savings account each month can add up. Even with just £20 a month, by the time your baby is 18 years old they'll have over £4,000 to help them go to university or buy their first car.
While your child will of course want to spend their birthday or pocket money on the latest gadget or new clothes, encouraging them to add even some of it to their savings account could give their account a good boost which they'll be able to enjoy when they're older.
We all love a little bargain. Vouchers and sales are a great way to demonstrate to your little one how you can be thrifty. If your child wants to buy something, it might be worth encouraging them to wait until the sales are on or you have a voucher for the store. While it might not be the easiest to convince them to have patience, explaining that if they wait until it's on sale they may be able to buy another toy alongside the one they already want, or save the money and put it towards a future purchase, might be incentive enough.
Everyone needs to make mistakes to learn from them, so if your child insists on buying something on a whim with birthday money instead of saving it, let them; these little stumbles are valuable in themselves. Encountering these types of financial situations when they're young and on a small scale is a good way to learn before they're older and the consequences could be harder.
Teaching your children how to save money is an important life skill that they will carry with them forever. If you start early enough, the good money saving (and spending) practices they learn will become ingrained. Let them pick up on your good habits and they'll thank you for it later.