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Children already in habit of saving

Children as young as 10 are already saving up for "key milestones" in their lives such as university, buying their first home or starting a business, a report has found.

The tough economy has produced a generation of financially savvy children, many of whom are more "switched on" to savings than their parents were at the same age, investment provider Scottish Widows found.

With the prospect of university tuition fees and a typical 20% deposit currently put down by first-time house buyers, 11% of children said that they have already begun saving towards the cost of college, university, or buying a home.

A further 6% said they are saving up for a car - while 2% of entrepreneurial children said they are putting money aside to start their own business.

But toys, games and gadgets remain children's savings priorities, with 48% of youngsters saving up for this purpose.

Some 98% of 10-year-olds said they have already got into the habit of putting some of their cash away for a rainy day, while just 15% of adults surveyed said they had started saving before the age of 15.

The majority of children who regularly receive pocket money said they get between £5 and £9 a week. Most children said that they save a portion of this cash, although 10% put all of it away.

The report suggested that the economic downturn has had an impact on children's savings habits. Publicity around the Government's landmark efforts to automatically enrol people into workplace pensions and encourage people into a lifelong savings habit may also be having an effect.

Seven out of 10 children surveyed were found to understand what a pension is - although a significant proportion (10%) think they will be able to retire before the age of 50.

Oxford University professor of economic history Jane Humphries said: "These children started school around the start of Britain's financial crisis, so perhaps growing up in an age of austerity has made them realise that saving for a rainy day is sensible. The rising costs of education may have prompted their concern with saving for university or college."

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