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Has your kid got more birthday present cash than they know what to do with?

Try this idea… Money and birthdays go hand in hand – slipping a ‘lobster’ or even a ‘pineapple’ into a birthday card has been the go-to present idea for extended family members around the country for decades. But it’s what our kids do with that money when the party’s over that really counts.

“Approximately one in five 15-year-olds do not have basic financial literacy,” says Dr Justin Coulson, parenting author and speaker. “This trend is only going to get worse as we move closer to becoming a completely cashless society.”

Now is the time to teach money management skills to our children, to prepare them for the financial challenges they will face as adults. And the key could be that juicy pineapple Aunt Margaret just gave your 9-year-old for their birthday. That “money for nothing”, as Scott Pape (the Barefoot Investor) calls it, has real value – not for spending, but as a tool for financial education. Scott suggests kids invest their money in three see-through jars (or piggy banks, or any kind of container): one for spending, one for saving and one for giving.

“Kids need to learn how to become savvy shoppers, but also how to save for stuff – saving is the cornerstone of effective financial education, and pays lifelong dividends,” says Scott. “The final container, done well, is a life lesson in contentment – after all, the happiest people on the planet are those who give.” While Scott’s idea is a great one, you don’t necessarily need to have physical jars for your kids to save with. There are a number of products out there that can act as each ‘jar’ – like ZAAP, the low-cost, pre-paid card for kids which may be a good way to handle their spending.

“Products like ZAAP give children the chance to learn about and control their finances in a safe environment and this is crucial for building strong financial skills for life,” says Justin.

Spriggy offers a similar service, with interconnected parent and child accounts to help you manage your children’s money – with them, not for them. Different Spriggy features can help them allocate their money to spending, saving and giving. And, when all else fails, you can always rely on the humble piggy bank (just make sure it’s see-through).

  1. ZAAP bands, from $9.95, www.get.zaap.com.au
  2. The Container Store Palaset piggy bank, $8.52, www.containerstore.com
  3. Spriggy, from $2.50/month per child, www.spriggy.com.au
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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.