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How (not) to get children interested in shares

teaching children about sharesAs part of the countdown to Christmas, the winner of Team Minted’s annual share-picking competition can now be announced. Bearing in mind all my accumulated knowledge gained through years of writing about investing, the results were utterly predictable: I came last.

The idea was to pick three shares back in October with an ‘investment’ of £1.00 per share. This makes a mini-portfolio. If the average worth of your three shares had gone up by the close of the stock market on Friday 16 December, you’d get back your stake and a pound for every percentage increase. If your portfolio had lost money, you’d get nothing. A hard lesson for those of us on £3.00 pocket money a week.

The race started on 24 October which was somewhat of a stock-market high. From then, share prices sunk, only recently perking up in an inexplicable Christmas rally. Maybe everyone’s cheerful ahead of the holidays but it hasn’t saved myself or Dear Daughter from wipeout. We both ended up with less than zero.

I relied on stalwarts like Glaxo and Unilever to tide me over post-Trump bumps. Sadly other investors were piling out. Both these companies are well-known for paying reliable dividends. However, since interest rates have gone up in the US, American government bonds (whose income is even more reliable) are starting to look more attractive.

Dear Daughter fared less badly than me by choosing Easyjet. Its share price has gone up by a whopping 13.5% over the time. This wasn’t enough to compensate for her losses on Amazon and Asos, however. Both of these internet retailers aren’t making as much profit as people expected.

In second place, Darling Son will be receiving the princely sum of £2.50 on top of his original investment. Apple and Tesla, the American electric car firm, have recovered from the doldrums where they languished halfway through the competition. And his other pick, energy supplier Centrica, got a boost from the recent increase in oil prices. Great for shareholders, bad for the school run next term.

The real surprise was Lloyds Bank which put on 15.7% during the last two months. Mr Minted had chosen that, of course, which makes him this year’s winner. Shame he didn’t put more than £1.00 into it.

The children seem mostly underwhelmed by their investing experience, although Darling Son is naturally thrilled to have outdone his older sister. The only time when either of them has shown any further interest was when I suggested to Darling Son that he use his winnings to buy his own popcorn at Rogue One. ‘I don’t know, Mum,’ he said. ‘I think I need to reinvest it.’

Check out our guide to investing for children here. All share prices courtesy of Hargreaves Lansdown.

Merry Christmas to all!
All I want for Christmas... is to sort out my gas ...

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Monday, 22 April 2019