Tim Jay is Professor of Psychology of Education at Loughborough University. Here we talk to him about children's education, money and Starling Kite.


1. Talk about money

“Having conversations with your children about money is so important,” says Professor Tim Jay, researcher, former secondary school mathematics teacher and father to a 14-year-old.

“When children start school, a lot of parents think that education is the school’s job and it’s best if they keep out of the way. But the school curriculum is crowded and financial education is often only a small part of it,” says Tim, 46.

Possible conversation starters include asking your child what they want to buy, and how they plan to save up the money. The next time they ask about buying those latest must-have sports shoes, it could be a perfect opportunity to talk about money. Every shopping trip can be a teaching moment.

2. Give children responsibility

For Tim, giving children their own spending power is key. “If possible, it’s good for children to have regular pocket money. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it gives them opportunities to manage their own money.”

With Kite, Starling’s debit card for children aged 6-16, adults can automate transfers of pocket money. Once Kite is set up, go to your Kite Space in the Starling app, tap ‘Manage Space’ and then ‘Automatic Transfer’. You can then choose the frequency and amount for your child’s pocket money. You can also do one-off top ups for extra chores or birthday money. Kite costs £2 per month, per card.

3. Let children make their own small mistakes

“Learning often comes through making mistakes, feeling bad and planning to avoid the same mistakes in future,” says Tim. “We’ve all had buyer’s remorse and it’s much better if a child learns that from a £5 toy they can’t return, compared to an 18-year-old that buys a new car when they’re offered credit.”

Kite includes controls that allow you to block online spending and set daily spending limits, helping you to create a safe environment for your child to spend and learn as they go.

“The app notifications also help children to reflect on past decisions,” says Tim, who set up Kite for his son. Every time your child spends money, you receive a real-time notification. Your child also receives these notifications if logged in to the Starling app.

4. Help your children understand your household costs

“Something that makes a big difference to children is if parents involve children in conversations about how the household economy works,” says Tim. “For example, you can make older children aware of how much the electricity bill is each month, or how much council tax or the mortgage costs.”

Part of this could include going supermarket shopping together. “With younger children, play a game where they guess how much everything will cost at the till.” You could also challenge your child to find the ingredients for a certain recipe, within a set budget, to encourage them to weigh up which brands to choose.

Professor Tim Jay, Loughborough University

5. Chat about their computer games

“It’s so much easier to get children to have a conversation about something they already care about,” says Tim. “For example, a lot of games have currencies or credits. In the past, my son has regretted spending money on virtual objects in video games or to access new levels and different modes of play.” The potential pitfalls of spending video game money is one of many important talking points between adults and children.

Tim says: “What’s powerful about Kite is that it makes everything much more visible. Children can see where their money has gone and parents can ask them questions about why they chose to spend their money in that way. It provides an opportunity to learn.”

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