The Rough Guide to Family Finances

Two young boys looking at shopping receipts.

Many of us struggle to make ends meet these days and it can be tough for families in particular. With this in mind Legal & General has worked with The Rough Guide to produce The Rough Guide to Family Finances. Packed with tips for families, its aim is to make people feel more confident about budgeting now and saving for the future.

To help promote the launch of this comprehensive free ebook, they asked me if I’d be prepared to try something different. Among the suggestions was letting Dylan and Xander take charge of the family finances for a day.

I love a challenge like this. I was also quietly confident that, despite their tender years, they would make at least one sensible decision between them. The day we handed over control of the family purse strings was also the day before Xander’s birthday. This was going to make it even tougher as we needed to get some party food!

We don’t drive, so have two options for going into town; train or bus. We gave them the choice and they opted for the former. This cost 80p more, but the latter would have been a false economy as it takes twice as long, so I think they made the right choice.

Once in town, Kate took Dylan to look for party bags while Xander and I went to buy Dylan a small toy so he wouldn’t feel left out the following day. Xander’s first instinct was to choose a massive Lego helicopter that cost £25.

In the spirit of the challenge, I was prepared to buy it, but showed him a few different options and let him decide. He’s a very strong willed little lad, so I didn’t like my chances but, to my surprise, he went for the cheapest Lego set that cost £5.

An infographic showing weekly family spending.
An infographic from the new ebook, showing weekly family spending

Onto the food shopping and things started to get a little silly. They started throwing random products into the basket. Again, we intervened to ask if they really wanted the things they had picked up and said that they we would buy them if did. But they didn’t fancy crumpets, tortellini or an Indian snack selection and put them back. Predictably, they went for a load of sausage rolls, cakes and biscuits, oblivious of multi-buy discounts, but they didn’t go over the top, so I was again impressed.

On the way out, we asked if they wanted to give money to the charity collection at the door – which they did – and they asked to have a go on a camper van ride. They were the bosses, so on they went! We then walked past a stall selling catnip mice. Kate asked if they wanted to get one for She-Ra. Dylan said no, giving the reason that she already had one!

They had been good boys, so we offered to get them the new Paddington DVD. Amazingly, they both said no. Again, Dylan gave the reason that we had already bought another DVD for Xander’s birthday. We were really proud of them. I’d like to think that some of their decisions were based on watching how Kate and I make choices when we’re shopping.

Just in case that makes them sound like perfect children, I’ll share with you the fact that their behaviour on the train home was abysmal. They had to be bribed with chocolate at an obvious additional expense! That said, I think they did well and will be swotting up on The Rough Guide to Family Finances and passing on its pearls of wisdom.

What are your experiences of budgeting? How do you think your kids would fare if they were in charge for the day?

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post


  1. Papa Tont

    Very brave, that could have gone so horribly wrong. Luckily you’ve got some sensible lads there who’ve picked up a thing or two from you guys. Not sure I’d do the same with my son, my daughter definitely, but my son no way.

  2. Jonathan

    I’ve just downloaded a copy of this e-book. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, it looks really interesting and useful. I enjoyed reading your post and hope to find a similar way of involving our son (and any subsequent siblings) and financial decision making so as they get an idea of what’s involved and why it’s important.

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