Our ‘Rooster Heroes’ series brings you financial experts from all over the world, asking them 10 quick fire questions on all things pocket money and allowances – so you learn from the best. They’re all leaders in their field, and they’re all people we at RoosterMoney admire.
This month we spoke to Ann Griffiths.
Ann is the Senior Policy Manager a the Money Advice Service, with a focus on Children and Young People. They provide free and impartial advice on money and financial decisions to people in the United Kingdom. Pretty heroic if you ask us!
1. What’s your earliest money memory? 🍼
Putting birthday money into a post office savings account at, I think, age 4 or 5. (I still have the passbook!) I remember being smaller than the counter, but having the distinct impression it was a good thing.
My family didn’t always have a great deal of money when I was very young, but they were strong on the importance of saving, and I think somehow knowing money was quite scarce made it seem more important.
My work at the Money Advice Service has taught me that children are capable of understanding saving by age 5, so building habits early on is really important, even with very small amounts of money. Too few children and young people are getting those chances – 60% of 16/17 year olds don’t have a savings account, and that has knock-on effects when children grow up – 4 in 10 working age adults in the UK have less than £100 in a formal savings account.
2. What did you want to be when you were a kid? 👶
I used to play at being a nurse or a teacher a lot, but I think more because those sorts of jobs were in my consciousness rather than wanting to do them. As I got older, I wanted to write. I spent huge amounts of time creating stories and poetry (on a typewriter!), and I still love the power and wonder of words used lyrically.
I’ve been astonished in adult life to discover jobs I never knew existed, including just about everything in the financial services industry, which I never even thought about growing up. Because of this, I feel really strongly about children getting careers education that opens up possibilities and options they wouldn’t otherwise know existed – it’s so important to see what’s out there in the big wide world!
“Building habits early on is really important, even with very small amounts of money.”
3. What's your favourite candy? 🍬
I’m afraid I don’t really like sweets! I’m a cheese sort of a gal – to the extent I had tiered cheeses at my wedding rather than cake!
4. Describe your money personality 🤔
Cautious and increasingly curious. Working at the Money Advice Service, and coming into contact with people who really understand personal finance beyond my natural approach of aiming to just stay comfortable, secure, and out of debt, has made me think hard about what more money could be doing for me. Again, it’s also made me really care about how children can be taught about aspects of money beyond the basics – around things like investment, which I freely admit I still need to learn lots more on!
5. What's the best bit about your job? 💼
Being able to create research that takes our understanding of how children learn about money and what’s effective in helping that, beyond anything we’ve known before, and apply that to policy, funding, and delivery making financial education more successful. It’s really quite amazing to be able to break completely new ground, and to help funders and providers of financial education test and measure success of what they’re doing, as well as funding new projects that show impact ourselves.
I’m really proud of a set of reports we’ve just published, which summarise for the first time everything we know about how children and young people are doing on financial capability, what financial education’s available to support them, and what evidence shows may be most effective. We hope these will be of use to everyone helping children learn about money.
“60% of 16/17 year olds don’t have a savings account, and that has knock-on effects when children grow up.”
6. Do you give your kids an allowance? And if so, what's the system? 💰
I don’t have children, however, our research shows that children receiving regular money is strongly associated with children scoring better on measures of financial capability, including financial behaviour. There are pros and cons to different approaches to giving pocket money – some of these are explored in the booklet for parents from our parenting programme ‘Talk, Learn, Do’, which delivered a strong impact on child and parent financial capability – but the really important message is that children who get regular money do better on many aspects of financial capability, no matter how much or how little they get.
7. Best piece of money advice you’ve ever been given? 🎓
There have been times when I’ve got caught up in regret about things I could have done differently in the past. Regret can be good if it helps you change and commit to different future actions, but it can also be negative if it makes you feel hopeless or stuck, and it’s easy to see how people can get trapped in cycles of making mistakes, feeling bad about them and themselves, and giving up on believing they can change for the better.
My Dad once told me to think of money I felt had been wasted as ‘learning fees’ – i.e. they won’t be wasted as long as it was a lesson that stuck, and the learning can be used to positive effect in the future. I find that a really helpful message in focusing on making the most of what can be done now, not what might have been.
“The really important message is that children who get regular money do better on many aspects of financial capability, no matter how much or how little they get.”
8. What’s your top tip for parents on teaching kids the value of money? 💡
Give children regular money (small amounts are just as good as larger sums), and responsibility for their own decisions, bounded by rules.
We found in our survey of 5000 4-17 year olds and their parents that these things are strongly associated with children doing better on measures of financial capability, including their financial behaviour (like saving regularly, and planning their spending).
Show them how money’s used – even things like how to check a bank balance – and talk to them about the choices they make and what they’d do differently in the future. All parents can do something – check out our tips for parents and carers.
9. How will we be paying for things in 2040? 🤖
Even more instantaneously than now, somehow. I’m not very good at predictions! I’m sure fintech will have created whole new ways to deal with money and there is a live challenge that I think will only grow, for the financial education sector to keep up with technological developments. I’d love to see more developments of ‘fintech for fin ed’ over the coming years.
10. Bonus: Favourite app on your phone (apart from RoosterMoney of course!) 📲
It would have to be one of several messaging apps I have. My husband does work that means we can’t always be together. Communication is vital in all relationships and it becomes even more essential when you can’t be physically in the same place all the time.
One of the things we discuss of course, is managing and making choices with money. Money is too often a source of conflict in relationships and seen as taboo to discuss, even with friends and family. This week is Talk Money Week, an annual event that aims to address that, getting people to open up about money-related topics and seek help if they need it, as well as celebrating the work of organisations across the UK doing fantastic work to help people manage their money better.