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The Importance of Numeracy Skills in Managing Household Finances


We all know that numeracy skills play a vital role in managing household finances. A household budget requires a detailed understanding of expenses and income. By accurately tracking expenses and income, families can make informed decisions about spending and saving and ensuring that the bills get paid, and there is still money in the bank at the end of the month.  Low numeracy makes people vulnerable to debt, unemployment, poor health and fraud.

How to Improve Your Numeracy Skills and Teach Your Children About Managing Finances


I spend a lot of time working with numbers; my day job requires me to work within a sales environment, and as such, I have to be accurate with my figures; otherwise, I could cost my employer a lot of money, which wouldn't go down well!


Numeracy isn't my most significant skill set! I didn't do that well at maths in school; my friends and I all had negative attitudes towards maths and numeracy (likely because it wasn't actually taught very well!); in fact, I only just scraped through with a grade, and throughout my life, numeracy has been a weak point; I've managed to scrape through, and I seem to learn something new every day. I recently became aware that I suffer from ADHD. As such, my mind doesn't work in the same way as those with better numeracy skills, which, although not an excuse for poor maths skills, does at least give me some reassurance that actually there's a reason I'm not that comfortable with numbers! I'm interested to see if, when I get medication to help with my ADHD, I become a maths superstar, but I suspect not, and I'll settle for just being better with numbers as a good result!

We all know that numeracy skills play a vital role in managing household finances. A household budget requires a detailed understanding of expenses and income. By accurately tracking expenses and income, families can make informed decisions about spending and saving and ensuring that the bills get paid, and there is still money in the bank at the end of the month. Low numeracy makes people vulnerable to debt, unemployment, poor health and fraud.


Half the UK’s working-age adults have the numeracy levels of a primary school child.

It is easier for some people than others to run a household's budget, like all skills, and many families struggle. In my view, a lot of numeracy issues system from school and how and what you were taught; I know that during my time at school, household budgeting was barely touched upon; I spent far too much time learning about angles, geometry, algebra and fractions, most of which I've now forgotten because I actually never needed to use it, and virtually nothing about managing a budget.


I would have got a lot from being trained on how to budget, what budgeting means and being shown how to read a understand a gas bill, how to cost up meal ingredients, talking about ways to save money around the house, buy bulk to make a saving, how to make use of excess food to feed the family and how to avoid getting into debt with a better understanding of interest rates, credit card charges, how mortgages work, why not to buy something on credit, and generally not living outside of your means, but none of that was talked about, and like most of the kids that walked out of that school on our final day, I was incredibly naive about budgeting and finances.


Children and budgeting/numeracy


I left school in 1990, and it was a different time; so much has changed since then, schools are better at talking about budgeting and maths skills, but I'm still shocked at the level of confusion and general lack of information around numeracy in our children and young adults§.


The cost of living crisis has, I think, actually helped children understand more about budgeting and the cost of living. Even my 6-year-old has a better understanding of what sort of bills have to be paid, how we as a family have to scrimp and save to ensure all the bills are paid, and food is still on the table, and doesn't argue when we explain that we don't have enough money to be able to buy him a new toy this week, or why he can't have a McDonald's and when times are really tough, why his dad has to go out and find ways to earn some extra money; and although that's a bit of the joy and innocence of childhood being taken away earlier than I would have expected, it's not necessarily a bad thing!


We give him a budget when he is allowed to buy a toy, and he can understand that and make a selection accordingly, and that's a big step towards a better understanding of budgeting and numeracy, which is only going to improve in time, so hopefully, it's helping him to be in a better position numerically, than I was when I left school!


Teaching your children about family budgeting is incredibly important, especially from an early age. It's beneficial to get them involved in budgeting and use your experience, both positive and negative, to help show them the right way to apply numeracy to their everyday daily life.


Here are three easy ways to get your child thinking about numeracy, and they'll likely enjoy the process and gain essential life skills.


  1. Assign them a savings goal: Assigning your child a savings goal can help them learn how to budget and save money. For example, if your child wants to save up for a new toy, you can help them figure out how much they need to save each week and how long it will take to reach their goal. This can help them understand the importance of setting and working towards financial goals.


Take your child with you when you go shopping and let them help you find the best deals. Show them how to compare prices, read labels and understand promotions. This can help them develop good shopping habits and understand the value of money. Maybe give them a budget of £5 and suggest a meal they need to buy the ingredients for (spaghetti and sauce is always an easy one), and let them use their numeracy skills to find the right product for the meal, and at the right price to stay within their budget. I've done this with my son, and even at six years old, he came in on budget and with everything we needed for the meal, and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

2. Let them help with shopping: Take your child with you when you go shopping and let them help you find the best deals. Show them how to compare prices, read labels and understand promotions. This can help them develop good shopping habits and understand the value of money. Maybe give them a budget of £5 and suggest a meal they need to buy the ingredients for (spaghetti and sauce is always an easy one), and let them use their numeracy skills to find the right product for the meal, and at the right price to stay within their budget. I've done this with my son, and even at six years old, he came in on budget and with everything we needed for the meal, and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

3. Give them an allowance: Giving your child an allowance can help them learn how to manage money effectively. Set up a system where they receive a certain amount of money each week or month, and help them create a budget to manage their allowance. This can help them learn how to prioritise spending and save money for things they want. A popular way to do this is to use a service like Go Henry, where your child can have their very own debit card to make purchases with their money; it's a fantastic way for a child to learn about budgeting and spending, and they love the feeling of being 'like a grown up' with their very own debit card!

Is it too late for adults to improve their numeracy?


Good numeracy skills also help individuals make better financial decisions. Individuals can make informed decisions about borrowing, saving, and investing by understanding concepts such as interest rates and investment returns loan repayments. For example, understanding the difference between a fixed and variable interest rates can help individuals choose the best loan for their needs.


But what if you're an adult and still struggling with poor numeracy? Millions of us are, and it may feel like we don't have learning resources available to us anymore as our time for being taught numeracy is over, but it's really not! Low levels of numeracy may have affected our career choices, and our maths anxiety and lack of number confidence can hold you back, back it's not too late.


Whether we realise it or not, we learn new things during our everyday lives. Even just watching tv can be a revelation! Look at the number of people who watch the Martin Lewis Money Show and learn so much about how to manage their finances; I can honestly say I've learned more from that show than I learned at school; equally, I've learned so much from social media, which is crazy, but It shows you're never too old to learn new things about numeracy and to increase your skills.


National Numeracy Day 2023

National Numeracy Day aims to inspire adults to open up about their feelings towards numbers, challenge stereotypes and show how numbers are needed in everyday life. The aim is for people to open up about numbers in everyday situations and help people feel less alone. We're not talking about long algebraic equations but everyday situations with numbers (e.g., budgeting, paying bills, using numbers at work, travelling, cooking, health and nutrition, helping kids with homework, etc.)


One such way to increase your knowledge is to get involved in National Numeracy Day, which this year is being held on May 17th and is run by an independent charity, National Numeracy.


National Numeracy Day aims to inspire adults to open up about their feelings towards numbers, challenge stereotypes and show how numbers are needed in everyday life. The aim is for people to open up about numbers in everyday situations and help people feel less alone. We're not talking about long algebraic equations but everyday situations with numbers (e.g., budgeting, paying bills, using numbers at work, travelling, cooking, health and nutrition, helping kids with homework, etc.)


The National Numeracy Day website is full of helpful resources, practical resources and inspirational stories to help you brush up on your numeracy skills; for people of all ages and also for the rest of the family too, as it's geared towards helping the whole family, with loads of resources for adults and activities for children, including free downloadable resources. The 'Big Number Natter' is there to help you discuss your numeracy, and it's the perfect opportunity to brush up on your number skills.


The event is backed by National Numeracy Day ambassadors, such as Countdown's Rachel Riley, teacher and tv presenter Bobby Seagull, Strictly's Katya Jones, plus the CBeebies Numberblocks, and more, all getting involved with videos, live sessions and a range of activities to help you improve your numerical skills.


There's also The National Numeracy Challenge, where you can sign up for free and join the learning challenge where you can learn more about numeracy at your own pace and improve your skills, with over 650,000 people having already taken part; it's a fantastic opportunity for you to brush up on your numeracy skills and make a positive impact on your finances.


Good numeracy skills are essential for managing household finances effectively. From creating a budget and tracking expenses to making informed financial decisions and managing debt, numeracy is crucial in achieving financial stability and success. By teaching your children about the everyday costs of running your home and how to manage their finances, we can help prepare the next generation for financial success. By improving our adult numeracy skills, we can take control of our finances, reduce stress, and achieve our financial goals.




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