Talking to kids about money isn’t easy. When many of us were young, we had piggy banks in all their glory. We felt their weight and we were content: our precious savings were adding up – until our siblings nicked it all, obviously.

But kids often don’t have the same sense of physical money anymore. It might not grow on trees, but that little card does seem to have an endless supply.

So we devised a challenge to get kids talking and thinking about money. With the help of a Starling Kite debit card for 6-16 year-olds, give your kids total control of your family budget for a period.

Will they rise to the challenge? What will they learn? What will you learn? And will you be eating M&Ms for dinner every day? We asked three popular podcaster families to get involved too. Here’s how they got on!

Podcasters, assemble

Scummy Mummies: comedians Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn, featuring Charlie, aged 10, and Hugo, 11. Budget: £100 for a grand day out in central London.

Dope Black Dads: Marvyn Harrison, founder of the Dope Black community, with Blake, six, and Ocean, four. Budget: £150 over three days! Brave.

Made by Mammas: Zoe Hardman and Georgia Dayton, alongside Isla, eight. Budget: £50 for a pre-holiday shopping trip.

Marvyn Harrison, founder of the Dope Black Dads podcast

Starting the conversation

After transferring money onto your kids’ Kite Space, it’s worth enquiring whether they think they’ve just received your entire annual income, or your digital spare change.

Ellie from Scummy Mummies probed Charlie: what do you think our monthly budget is, and where do we waste money? Answer: roughly £10,000 per month, with money wasted on Joe, his little brother, and wine. Hmm - that’s started three conversations, let alone one.

Marvyn’s kids are a little younger, so he introduced the challenge by asking which foods they’d eat forever – carrots, sausages, hummus (could be worse) – and how much each item cost. Meanwhile Zoe, from Made by Mammas, tested the waters by asking Isla how much sun cream costs, and how much a playsuit costs - with mixed results!

Georgia Dayton and Zoe Hardman, the Made by Mammas podcast

Let the games begin

Charlie and Hugo roamed central London. They tracked their spending on their own versions of the app throughout, as they:

  • Earnestly discussed tax over pizza
  • Negotiated mini-budgets in the sweet shop
  • Gravely weighed up the relative pleasures of new toys against takeaway dinner

They also bought Mother’s Day gifts. As the adult, you receive a notification when your child spends on Kite. Which means, for Scummy Mummies, “we instantly knew how much the boys had spent on us”. And according to the free market values, it’s Charlie who loves his mum more.

Memorable quote: Charlie on impulse sweet spending, “Um, I don’t like these. I wish I hadn’t bought four…”

Blake and Ocean were in control for three whole days. The total budget was £150, but dad Marvyn used his app to set a £50 daily limit. The kids had financial control of:

  • The big food shop
  • Taking Grandma on a day out
  • Dad’s haircut (for which, they regretted to inform, there were no available funds)

Memorable quote: on filling up with petrol, “Uh oh. I was supposed to put £20 in the car, but I put £20.16… Ocean’s gonna get mad”.

Isla was “super excited” about her new card, and how grown-up her own version of the app made her feel. She was getting some pre-holiday shopping done, and quickly learnt the merits of different High Street brands on a budget. A £25 pair of shoes in Zara? No chance. Get her to Primark!

Memorable quote: on deciding whether sun cream or a doughnut was more essential “I’m choosing doughnut… to get me in the holiday spirit”.

Learning without the lecture

All our podcasters agreed on one thing: the challenge is a brilliant way to talk about money, without it feeling like a lesson.

Helen said “the challenge was a real eye-opener, before we started they had no clue how much things cost. We had really good, healthy conversations”. The task even “changed Hugo’s whole demeanour. It gave him some authority and confidence”.

Helen Thorn and Ellie Gibson, the Scummy Mummies podcast

Marvyn says: “Talking about money really made Blake and Ocean consider how much things cost. I had a lot of fun… the kids loved it too, and learnt so much”. And finally, Zoe “had an amazing afternoon, we had so much fun - Isla came away with a much better understanding of how much things cost”.

How to get involved

It’s easy to take the challenge yourself!

  • Head to Spaces in the Starling app, and select Kite. It takes moments to set up, and the card will arrive a few days later
  • Download our challenge worksheet!
  • Share any fun moments, and see how other families did, with the #StarlingKidsTakeover hashtag

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