...even if you’re still in primary school! Jacqui Morley meets Blackpool’s little savers for a lesson in finance
Not one of the six Thames Primary School children facing me is a spendthrift - as each assures me with great solemnity at the school in the shadow of the Pleasure Beach, on Thames Road, Blackpool.
They are savers, some even closet hoarders, stashing their cash in nooks and crannies, away from prying little brothers, and dogs who eat £1 coins (according to Aidan Fairclough, 10), ready for the next splurge.
And after chatting to these chancellors-in-waiting it’s clear that grownups don’t give kids the credit due them. They know more about the problems in the economy than many of us appreciate. They see it on the telly and in the papers. Cutbacks, economies, uncertainties impact on us all, from the libraries or hospitals we use, the day centres our elders frequent, to the university education these kids hope to get (and at nine and 10 they really do think that far ahead) if they can find the cash needed to provide it.
For money guru Martin Lewis, Mr MoneySavingExpert.com himself, the battle for hearts and minds starts in primary schools, or should, in his ideal economic world. He’s fighting to get financial education in schools, the earlier the better, through the new all party Parliamentary Group for Financial Education to lobby to make money matters compulsory on the curriculum.
Thames Primary already includes economic “health” via the Every Child Matters element of the curriculum to equip kids for the wider world.
These youngsters appreciate the value of money. I ask the children what “debt” means. Keira Carlyle, 10, who wants to be a singer, says: “£100.” “No,” growls Thomas Jolliffe, nine, who helps out at his parents’ hotel. “A debt’s a grand.”
All six have a rant at premiership footballers for “ripping people off”, as Keira puts it. “That Rooney, he’s well ugly and bald, like Homer Simpson, but has a well cool wife. Footballers shouldn’t be paid so much. It’s wrong.” See it and weep all the way to the bank, Torres.
Daisy Atkinson, 10, gets a bit of cash for helping her mum out which the would be “guitar-playing astronaut” prefers that to pocket money. “I save it up. I don’t really bother about money.” Thomas, who fancies being a guitar-playing scientist, as the astronaut job may have gone, helps his mum and dad by serving toast at their hotel. “People can have cereal or fruit but most like the fried breakfast and toast is very important. I get money for that. I once got £20 tips from a coach party.”
“Well sick!” the rest chorus. For the record, that’s childspeak for good. Well good. It comes beneath awesome and well below epic.
Keira stashes her £10 (pause for collective gasp) pocket money away for a fortnight so she can buy computer games. “I’m oldest so get most. Connor gets £5, Kyle, he’s one, gets £2. Connor spends his on yoghurt as he doesn’t like sugary stuff.”
Nick Chambers, 10, who reckons the headteacher should taken over the banks as “she knows how to run the school, don’t she?” gets £7.50 and values it. “I’m one of nine, not quite the oldest, the oldest works at a sandwich shop. I spend some on sweets, DVDs and stuff, but save most. If I want something I’ll buy.”
Courtney Smith, 10, gets £5.50, which is saved until her next Primark spree or to buy her mum a present. “I got some pumps last time.” She’d like to be a dentist.
Aidan, who wants to be an astronomer or a soldier, gets £2.50, wants a rise, and reckons he’s got £50 saved, in his money box, and “secret” places, as last time his little brother went exploring he stuck the money in a “little pipe in the bathroom so it dropped in the garden and the dog ate £1.” How did he get it back? Don’t ask. But it came back with interest...