Saver vs spender: which one is your child?

Saver vs spender: which one is your child?

Are you raising a saver or a spender? Figuring out your child’s money personality is key to helping them develop healthy financial habits that’ll set them up for adulthood. 


Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with being either a saver or a spender. What’s more, your child may not fit neatly into either category. Humans are unique, and that goes for small humans too. But understanding where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lie can help encourage wise spending decisions now and in the future. 


Read on to learn how to spot the tell-tale signs of a natural saver vs a natural spender. Plus, tips on how to encourage responsible money habits for each type. 


What is a saver?

A saver is always looking ahead. They feel a great sense of pride as they stash away cash in their bank account for the future and watch it grow over time. 


Savers live within their means. They’re good at budgeting and finding ways to make their money last as long as possible. Savers are patient, too. Masters of delayed gratification, when they set themselves a savings goal, they stick to it. Rigidly.  


A saver doesn’t buy on impulse but monitors prices and researches the market. And when they do decide to make a purchase, they’ll shop for a bargain. 


So what’s the downside, you’re thinking? Savers are the people you want in charge of the budget for group vacations. They probably never get into debt and retire early. 


There are some disadvantages. In more extreme cases, savers can become so anxious about parting with their cash that they won’t do so unless necessary. To others, this can make them seem stingy. But it can also mean they fail to enjoy the present and miss out on hobbies or activities that bring happiness or purpose. 


A saver can also be hard on themselves. They can be seriously upset if something prevents them from reaching a savings goal. An unexpected expense, for example, or a life event. 


How do you know if your child is a saver?

Your child may be a saver if they’re: 

  • Reluctant to part with their money, even if it means they might miss out on something fun

  • Indecisive when it comes to spending, they’ll check prices endlessly and take a long time to make up their mind

  • A bargain shopping expert, it’s a source of pride that friends come to them for advice on which smartphone is the best value for money, or where to buy the latest video game for the lowest price

  • Organised and meticulous with their finances they regularly check their budget is on track and like seeing everything neatly laid out

  • Happy to go without something if it means they reach a savings goal—they’ll glow with satisfaction when they achieve it

  • Extremely upset if they lose money or fail to meet a savings target in the time allowed.

Tips if your child is a saver

If your child is a saver, reassure them it’s a good thing. It’s just a question of finding a balance between saving money and enjoying life. 

Encourage them to be more flexible with their budgeting

When your child’s working out their weekly or monthly budget, encourage them to plan for a few treats. For example, a trip to the cinema with friends or a new app for their phone.


Savers stress about spending money seemingly without purpose. But if it’s built into their budget, it’s an ‘allowable expense’. 

Get them to see purchases as an investment in lived experience

Savers can get so wrapped up in getting value for money, they fail to see the value in experiences. That trip to the cinema with friends, for example. To a saver, it may seem like a waste of money. What will they have to show for it afterwards? 


Encourage them to see that sometimes the value of spending is in the experience. Spending time with friends and making memories that’s priceless.

Reassure them it’s okay to spend a little sometimes

Explain it’s okay to splurge every now and then. When savers get a windfall, a bonus, or cash for their birthdays, let’s say they tend to squirrel the whole lot away into their savings immediately. 


Of course, that’s sensible. But it does take a bit of pleasure out of receiving a gift. Encourage your child to save some, but spend a little too. Even if they put away 80% of the money and spend 20%, they can still feel good about saving. 


What is a spender?

A spender is carefree with their cash. Unlike savers, they don’t plan ahead but live for the moment. As a result, they’re likely to act on impulse and buy things they don’t necessarily need. 


Instead of focusing on the value of money, spenders are more concerned with what it can buy them. In other words, it’s a means to an end. They tend not to be great with budgeting and love to shop. 


Spenders are generous people. They’ll treat friends to dinner for no reason except that it makes them feel good to spend money on others at the time. The downside of this is that they’re not always prepared for the bill they’ll have to foot at the end of an evening. 


Buyers’ remorse after an impulsive purchase or act of generosity is a problem for spenders. As they tend to live beyond their means, they find it easy to get into debt.  But while this creates anxiety, they may also splurge as a way to cope with stress. 

How do you know if your child is a spender?

Your child may be a spender if they:

  • Part with their cash easily. They’re the first to offer to lend money or buy drinks for their friends

  • Spend on impulse, then feel bad about it

  • Care less about the price of something and more about how fast they can get it

  • Save little or not at all – and when they do, they regularly dip into their savings

  • Set few savings goals and often take longer to reach them than they thought

  • Don’t plan their spending. They may budget but won’t necessarily stick to it and are likely to have blown their pocket money long before the week or month is out

  • You often have to talk to your child about spending wisely

Tips if your child is a spender

Reassure them it’s good to be generous and live in the moment. It’s just a question of finding a balance. Otherwise, they may end up with nothing to fall back on.

Encourage them to budget

Encourage your child to think ahead by showing them how to budget. Explain that making a plan for how they’ll spend their money will help them feel more in control of it. It’ll also make it easier to stay on track. 


To a spender, the idea of sticking to a budget rigidly may sound terrible. So reassure them it’s okay to go over budget sometimes. They can always make it up next week/month.


It might help to talk about the difference between needs versus wants.  

Explain the rewards of delayed gratification

To encourage your spender to avoid buying on impulse, explain the rewards of delayed gratification. Learning how to delay gratification is an important part of money management. 


By resisting the urge to splurge on something they want right now, they’ll have more time to save. And more money to spend on something they really want. 

Encourage them to save 

For most of us spending is easier than saving, which is why encouraging kids to save is so important. Automatically putting aside a set amount every time your child gets their allowance is good saving practice. You could also suggest that when they get a windfall or cash gift for a birthday, they save a little of it instead of spending it all at once. 


If they’re hesitant, try explaining the power of compound interest. Show them how even a small, regular amount of savings can grow over time. It may help to use a compound interest calculator. 

What makes savers and spenders different?

Their approach and emotional response to money differentiate savers from spenders. Savers find it difficult to part with their money because they worry about the future. Spenders live for the moment. They worry about their spending after the fact. 


What’s important is to remember there’s nothing wrong with being a spender or a saver. The point of identifying which money personality best fits your child is to help them balance their natural tendencies. You can then direct them toward the right money habits for them and set them up for a financially healthy adulthood. 


How GoHenry can help

Whether your child is a natural saver or spender, GoHenry can help. 


A prepaid kids debit card and app for 6-18-year-olds, GoHenry comes with a companion app for parents. You can pay your child’s allowance, track progress, set spending limits and get real-time notifications every time they make a purchase. Your kids learn by using their cards, and you get peace of mind. 


Even better, GoHenry comes with tools designed to develop your child’s financial literacy.  Through our in-app Money Missions quizzes and interactive games, they’ll learn how to manage their money effectively. From how to budget, spend and save wisely, delay gratification, harness the power of compound interest and more. 



Related articles:

Activities to teach your kids financial literacy

How to teach kids the value of money

Financial literacy resources for children

Financial milestones for kids

How old do you have to be to get a credit card?

What age can you get a debit card?
Written by Charlotte Peacock Published Feb 5, 2023 ● 4 min read