child putting money into a piggy bank: how to talk to your children about money so that they can understand

How do you make money discussions with your children fun, rather than hum-drum? And how do you capture their interest instead of watching their eyes glaze over? Well, to help you explain simple money concepts in ways that will keep your children engaged, why not take them on a magical money quest? Using a mystical and magical dragon theme, here are the five things that savings and setting out to find a dragon have in common.

1. To start your quest, you need a goal!

Every adventure starts with a goal! This could be anything, from finding a dragon (because of course they exist) to building a magical castle out of jellybeans. When it comes to saving, you also need a goal, which should be simple and achievable! Perhaps it is to save enough to buy a skateboard, or enough to buy gifts for less privileged kids at Christmas. Or the family a round of ice creams next time you go out. Whatever you decide, this goal is very important. It gives you the focus and direction when it comes to saving.

2. Next you need to plan your quest…

How exactly are you going to find this dragon? Do you have an ancient map, drawn up by the dragon riders of old? How long do you think your quest will take? What equipment do you need to wrangle your mystical beast when you find it?  Will you need some help from others on your adventure? A dragon tamer perhaps? These are very important considerations indeed.

And saving for your goal is no different. You need a plan that says how long you are going to take to reach your goal and what exactly you’ll do with the treasure you earn on the way. A goal without a plan is just a dream! Make yours a reality.

how to talk to your children about money so that they understand

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3. How will you pay for your adventure?

Dragon-wrangling costs quite a bit of treasure! Do you have enough saved, or will you need to use your talents to make more money? Think about the things you’ll need for your quest. They all come at a price! Once you find your winged wonder, it’ll also be pretty pricey to feed your new pet. Dragons eat A LOT of spaghetti.

Similarly, when saving, you need a budget that will allow you to cover your needs and wants and still put enough aside to reach your savings goal.

4. What talents can you use to make more money for your quest?

By now, you’ve probably realised that having a pet dragon is pricey. You need to feed your beastie, get his wings regularly serviced at the dragon-wash, and employ a talon-ted nail artist to file his claws. That’s not cheap! So, how will you earn more to grow your treasure? Think about what you can do around your castle to earn more money. Can you do extra chores for cash? Or do you have a special talent you can use? Could you paint your dragon and sell your art for money? Or bake cupcakes and sell them to family and friends? Make a list of ways you can get your paws on more shiny coins!

5. Big adventures take time… but they’re so worth it!

One does not simply find a dragon overnight. It takes time. A long time, sometimes. Dragons are pretty sneaky. They know how to hide. So, you might be looking for a while. But that means that when you find your precious pet, it’ll be all the more special, right? You might be tempted to settle for lesser dragons on the way. Like maybe you’ll see a lizard and think it’s just a baby dragon in disguise. But it’s not really! It will be fun for a while but deep down, you’ll still long to find yourself a bona fide dragon pet. One cannot fly into the clouds on a lizard. That would be ridiculous.

When it comes to savings, the same can be said of spending on something that you don’t really need, just because you feel like getting something new. Think quickly before buying a small Lego pack with some figurine, rather than saving and waiting until you can get the bigger box set. A lot of adults struggle with delayed gratification and it can land them in all sorts of debt. Learning this skill during childhood can be invaluable for a successful and financially confident future.

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Sanlam recently launched its free Sanlam Savings Jar app which uses Augmented Reality and animation – in the form of a life-size growing dragon – to teach children the wonders of saving. For more information about the Sanlam Savings Jar, visit Sanlam.co.za or download it from the app store.