The Legacy of Lockdown: Canny UK kids cash in on household chores, ramp up savings and give more to charity during Covid-19

7th May 2021 | Blogs, News

By gohenry


  • Bonanza for kids during pandemic with a 20% rise in pocket money earnings 
  • Almost 70% of children more worried about money since beginning of pandemic as savings increased by 77% during lockdown 
  • Kids show kindness in a crisis with charity donations rising 59% on pre-pandemic figures 

Wednesday 28 April 2021:  gohenry, the prepaid debit card and financial education app for 6-18-year-olds, has today released its 2020 Youth Economy Report, revealing how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed kids’ attitudes to money. The findings show canny kids increased savings by 77% over lockdown one and found new ways to make money boosting their earnings by 20% over the year.

The insights into children and teenagers’ earning, saving, spending and giving habits – gathered from 400,000 UK children* – indicate that the events of 2020 are likely to have provoked more positive financial behaviours and attitudes to money, which will continue through 2021 and beyond.

Louise Hill, COO and Co-founder of gohenry says: “The events of 2020 brought a lot of financial uncertainty to families across the UK and the nation’s kids responded by supporting their parents at home and being careful with their own spending and saving.

“After a challenging year, it’s heartening to see that the lasting legacy of COVID-19 could be an increased focus on social responsibility and social good, with children as young as six earning more, saving more and even giving more during the crisis. Overall, 6-18-year-olds contributed a staggering £95.7 million to the UK economy in 2020 and, as that number grows, encouraging good money skills for life has never been so important.”

No furlough for kids

At a time when many adults’ incomes were reduced by 20% due to furlough, young people managed to increase their earnings by 20% between the first and last quarter of 2020 as parents outsourced household chores to their kids.

Not only were young people rewarded for helping out around the house, but they enjoyed a 172% rise in earnings for taking exercise during lockdown one, as parents paid an average of £1.34 to encourage them to get moving.  Savvy school kids managed to give their savings an additional boost by focusing on the most lucrative tasks such as babysitting (£6.01), washing the car (£3.10) and gardening (£1.98).

Savvy savers

The COVID-19 pandemic has made UK children and teenagers acutely aware of money, and the impact it has on people’s lives. Two-thirds of children and teenagers (66%**) say that they worry more about money since the start of the pandemic.

This is particularly true for young children: 71% of 6-10 year-olds said they worried more, compared to 59% of 11-15 year-olds and 68% of 16-18 year-olds. As a result of these anxieties, 44% of young people say that they worry about how they’ll save for events like Christmas or expensive items.

But these concerns produced some savvy savers, and during the first lockdown, children’s average monthly savings in the UK increased by 77%. This is over two-and-a-half times the UK’s Household Saving Rate, which increased to 29.1% in the same second quarter of 2020.  Over the course of the year, children and teenagers saved a total of £12.7 million, which equates to 12% of their total income.

British children and teenagers spent much of 2020 saving for life after lockdown, whether that’s a holiday in the sun or a big shopping trip. But they’re also saving for items that will help them cope with ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, like big ticket tech equipment to keep them connected, and a car or bike to regain their independence and possibly avoid public transport.

Big spenders

In 2020, UK children and teenagers spent a total of £95.7 million, which equates to £367 per child, or £7.00 per child, per week.

With people unable to physically leave their homes, the UK’s kids turned to the virtual world. In the second quarter of the year, gaming accounted for 19% of children’s overall spend; the amount spent on gaming increased by 66% during the first lockdown, from a total spend of £3 million in the first quarter of the year, to £5 million in the second quarter.

Despite the digital boom, during the first lockdown, the amount spent on toys and hobbies also increased by 16% perhaps indicating screen fatigue as homeschooling demanded a huge amount of screentime and kids returned to more traditional games and hobbies.

In contrast to the loungewear boom witnessed amongst adults, being stuck at home didn’t stop UK kids and teens looking sharp.  Over the course of the year, they spent £8.7 million on fashion, with girls spending over three times as much as boys (£6.9 million versus £1.8 million). Girls also spent significantly more on health and beauty - over the course of 2020, girls spent £1.6 million, compared to £140,000 for boys. However when it came to gaming, boys dug deep, spending over £14.3 million during the year, with girls spending just £1.6 million in comparison.

As restrictions eased and the government encouraged us all to Eat Out To Help Out, kids were keen to make the most of these 50% discounts and see friends again. Spending in cafes and restaurants increased by 432%, from £280,400 in April, May and June, to £1.5 million in July, August and September, while the amount kids and teens spent on entertainment (cinemas, theme parks) increased by 9607%, from £900 to £88,000, in July, August and September.

And, at a time when we learnt to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ whilst washing our hands, kids’ hygiene concerns grew. As a result, just over a half (51%) of British children and teenagers** admitted to being more concerned about using cash since the pandemic and ATM withdrawals accounted for just 9% of spending in 2020 – down from 14% in 2018.

The Generous Generation

As the nation rallied together, widespread awareness of initiatives like Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals during holidays, heightened young people’s understanding of the power of their pound – and the different ways they can be good (and do good) with money.

Children and teenagers clearly responded to this message, with gohenry kids giving 59% more than usual to charities during the first lockdown and, over the course of the year, donating over £66,800 to gohenry’s official charity partner, the NSPCC, through micro-donations averaging 7p a week.

For more insight into how Covid-19 changed Gen Z’s and Gen A’s attitudes to money in the UK, view the full gohenry Youth Economy report here

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