A couple of years ago, I was invited to a school to talk to the Yr 7 kids about the importance of financial education and during the conversation one of the girls said that she didn’t think she needed to learn about money because she intended to marry a rich man. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

Inwardly, I went on a rant decrying the sappy Disney movies which put these delusions of ‘being rescued by a knight’ into the heads of our young and oh-so-impressionable kids.

Outwardly, I just smiled and told her that’s it’s always smart to have Plan B.

Thankfully by the end of the talk she had scrapped Plan A and was determined to learn as much about the topic of money as she could. She even campaigned to her teachers to get me to come back in a few months for a follow on session.

I wish I could say that instances like these are rare, where kids don’t feel the need to learn about money. But they aren’t.

And we can’t really blame these kids.

Most parents haven’t had the money talk with their kids. And no one can blame us.

We aren’t given a lesson plan so we’re not entirely sure what to say or how best to go about teaching our kids good money management skills. We’re also afraid that saying the wrong thing might send them careening into a life of financial despair.

We haven’t had much formal training on the subject ourselves. We mostly learned from trial and error, and by making expensive mistakes, none of which we’d like to elaborate to our kids.

Given all of the above, our reticence is understandable, though wholly ill-suited to the task at hand.

We all know that financial ignorance is dangerous….and expensive and yet we do not adequately prepare our kids to handle, manage or even think about money.

No matter what their career choice, the one thing kids are going to have deal with as adults is money. They will be tested on this skill every day of the adult lives.

And how they fare on this test will affect every aspect of their lives — what they do for work, how long they choose to work, their relationships, their health, what age they retire, their ability to take on risk and of course their stress levels. (Money is the number one cause of stress in adults).

There is light at the end of this tunnel however.

Now is the time to fix the next 10 years. — Jim Rohn

Research by the National Financial Educators Council has shown that just 10 hours of financial education can positively impact kids’ spending and saving habits. And that kids who take such courses are more likely to save, less likely to be compulsive buyers and less likely to max out their credit cards.

So we have the science backing this… We know what needs to be done and how to do it…what’s stopping us?

The hope that our kids will magically learn how to manage money before they leave home? Even though this isn’t taught in school, high school or college and most of us don’t have meaningful conversations about money with our kids?

Hope isn’t a strategy.

Only 33 percent of adults worldwide are financially literate. This means that around 3.5 billion adults globally lack an understanding of basic financial concepts.

So here are a few pointers that might help:

  • Start early: As soon as they say, “I want” would be a good time to talk about how money works.
  • Don’t lecture: Kids switch off when we get into lecture mode, so don’t. Instead use stories to illustrate a point.
  • Avoid the Gender Gap: Research shows that parents are more likely to talk to their sons, rather than their daughters about money and investing. Don’t do that.
  • Share the responsibility: Research shows that kids are more likely to ask their mum about money matters, and more often than not, no matter how successful these women are at work — they play the “Ask your dad” card, thus signaling to their kids that money is a man’s domain.
  • Don’t flaunt bad money behavior. Kids may not always listen to what we say but they are always watching what we do, so we must model what we preach.

We need to write a new narrative for our kids… one in which they are taught how to manage money smartly and responsibly….in which they have the skills and the resulting confidence to make smart financial decisions…. And in which they use this knowledge to live a life on their own terms.

The Kids Finance Initiative has been at the forefront of financial education for teens in the UAE for the last 4 years.

We want to see a world where more teens are equipped with the financial education skills they need so they don’t repeat the money mistakes of our generation, so they can step up and play full out.

So go ahead, have the money talk with your kids; then come talk to us.

P.S — Personally, when I read my daughters the usual Disney stories when they were young, I always improvised…and made the female protagonist resourceful and self-reliant, who wasn’t waiting to be rescued, who wasn’t waiting for the prince to make her happy or ‘complete her’ and who didn’t always accept the prince’s proposal to go off and live in a castle, because, well… she really had so much to get done in the world. 😂😂