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Created on 18.05.2020

Learning to save

There are many good reasons for saving: buying something significant, financial planning for old age, preparing for unforeseen expenses. For kids and young people, it’s important to gradually develop the ability to save. And parents can support them in this.

The Swiss public are world champions at saving: on average, they set aside 18% of their income each month. The most common reasons for saving are significant desired purchases, such as a trip or a home of one’s own, saving for the unexpected and retirement provision.

Older savers usually set aside higher amounts than younger ones. This is partly because they have greater financial strength, and partly because retirement provision is perceived as a higher priority amongst the older age groups.

Start saving as early as possible

However, savings experts advise younger people in particular to start saving as early as possible. In this way, the habit of making regular savings is developed at an early stage. If you start saving early, your savings period will be extended and, as a result, you end up with a large sum even from small savings amounts.

Learning to save

The ability to save develops gradually in children and adolescents in conjunction with other cognitive developmental steps. Being able to save money means, above all, being able to wait. For instance, instead of spending pocket money on sweets at the checkout, stowing it away in a piggy bank and using it later on to buy a new computer game. People who save are forgoing the fulfilment of short-term wants in favour of long-term desires. Postponing consumption until the future can be particularly difficult for younger children without a clear conception of when “later” is.

Saving also involves the competence to estimate the costs of different wishes and to weigh them against one another. How much does my wish cost? What proportion of my pocket money can I or do I want to put aside for this each month? What do I have to do without until the wish is fulfilled, and is it worth it to me?

Tips for parents

In order to be able to develop the skills involved in saving, children and young people need opportunities to practise.

  • Let them practise with pocket money: with their own pocket money, children develop an idea of the value of money and learn to use it sensibly for their various needs. When they spend their money autonomously, they also experience first-hand the consequences of spontaneous and planned purchases.
  • Discuss money and saving: talk to kids and teenagers about wishes and costs. In doing so, make sure you also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of short-term impulse buys and long-term calculated consumption.
  • Set an example when it comes to saving: in appropriate everyday situations, explain that you are saving for something yourself and are therefore going without something else, or explain that this is the reason why you don’t immediately spend unexpected lump sums (refunds, gifts, bonus payments, etc.).
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