Financial Literacy

People first started using money around 2,500 years ago. Before that, we used a system called “bartering”, where you swap the goods you have for the goods you want. Early items we used to barter for other things were grain and cattle.

Eventually, people invented a new way to pay for the items they wanted: money. The modern system of notes and coins we use today began with the invention of metal coins in the part of the world we now call Turkey.

Today, as well as using cash, people also use credit cards and phones to pay for their shopping. You can read more about the future of money in our Briefing.

Looking after your money is a good skill – and it’s important to learn about it early. In 2013, experts at the University of Cambridge found that our money habits (the way we spend and save) are set by the age of seven.

Here are some tips to get started:

Wait to buy: If you want to buy something that is too expensive, save up your money until you have enough.

Keep track: Use a notebook to write down how you spend your money. That way, you won’t end up running out unexpectedly.

Save 10%: Keep back 10p of every pound you are given in a piggy bank or jar to save for the future.

Budget: Work out how much you have to spend and plan how you want to spend it.

Read Our Story


How much do you know about money? In this video, American comedian Kate McKinnon talks to some children about what they know and what they can learn about how to look after money.


  1. Think of something you’d like to buy and research how much it costs. Compare different shops or sites to see where you can get it cheapest.
  2. Use a see-through jar or box to collect small change for a month and watch your savings grow. After a month, count up how much you saved and choose how to spend it.