To Secure The Future Of Kenya, We Must Train Our Children About Money Today

By Steve Biko Wafula / Published March 11, 2021 | 12:59 am




KEY POINTS

Research shows that kids learn best from those they respect. This research also points out that kids learn through what they call "modeling," or you might call it, "Monkey see, monkey do."


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As a nation, we tend to shy away from the topic of money. Our financial habits and attitudes to household finances are formed from a very young age and are largely influenced by how we saw our parents manage their finances.

Unfortunately as a country, we seem to have left this responsibility to everyone else except us. Look at how we managing our national resources. Look at the student loans at HELB. It’s a deep, roaring cry that something needs to be done and done now before it’s too late.

Our children need to know that money has a value that money needs to circulate, that it’s important to pay back any money you borrow and that above all, money with value and ability to create genuine wealth is money that is legal and real, not fake or wash-wash.

Money plays a big role in our lives, it can affect our relationships, our stress levels, and our overall well-being. Our lives are basically designed around the essence of money, in whatever form we can access it.

How we use and talk about money has a massive impact on how our children’s relationship with it develops as they grow up. The drama we are witnessing in Kenya from our elected leaders to inheritance and succession issues indicates that the generation ahead of mine, those born between 1963 to 1979 never learned the essence to train and teach their children the essence and value of prudent management of money.

Watching and reading the news every day is sickening because of what is always happening with killings and court fights over money and inheritance.

This is a serious conversation that no one is having yet it’s the denominator in our society that is tearing apart at the seams because of constant change that life seems to be handing us every day.

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There are so many critical skills that children need to survive and thrive in today’s world. Developing solid financial skills is one of these and it’s vital to their future well-being. It’s never too early to begin but equally important is it’s never too late. This is the conversation that we as parents, other stakeholders like banks, regulators, and teachers need to start and sustain. I wish I had been taught some basic financial aspects when I was young, it would have guided me and protected me in my old age.

As parents, we all want the best for our kids. We want our kids to get the best upbringing, the best education, the best quality of life, and the best financial situation. An important part of raising our kids and giving them a good upbringing is making sure that they grow up to be financially responsible individuals.

We are the biggest influence on our children’s development and it’s important that we set good examples and become more transparent about money with our kids. This includes teaching our kids about money. This is something that we need to take up and be deliberate about it. No one else will come to teach our kids about personal finance. This is their critical foundation and it is upon us.

The good and bad habits that our kids learn and develop come from us, so we have to be more aware of how we discuss and treat money in front of our children. What they read, what they see on TV, and hear on the radio needs to be deliberate and credible to ensure that we raise a better generation than what we are and have become.

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With the rise of mobile money, debit card, pre-paid cards, credit card usage and the increasing number of digital and blockchain payments, the notion of currency is becoming more and more abstract. If children are not able to get a grasp of the actual exchange of money and goods, then they will develop the idea that money is endless and easy to come by. They need to understand the basic, crude aspect of what money is and grow up understanding that money is constantly evolving to fit the current economic status and they must be able to appreciate that, or else they will destroy everything that we have built. The same way our forefathers used to train as warriors, we must train our children to be financial warriors for the sake of better development and creative investments.

Also, our children do not see us save when all our money interactions are digital. They do not see our salaries being wired to our accounts, and part of that being wired to our savings account. These distant digital-only transactions make it all the more important to create interactions around money at home for children to observe and copy. They need to understand how money has moved from the brick and motor to the digital wallets and that the aspect of looking for money is the same. The only difference is the delivery of the proceeds once we reach a certain threshold.

Research shows that kids learn best from those they respect. This research also points out that kids learn through what they call “modeling,” or you might call it, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Kids will mimic what they see, especially by those they trust and respect and are in contact with the most.

Tehlio Credit Union encourages parents to “teach by example” and also says that “experience is the best teacher.” As parents, we have heard it said, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is true, but it never hurts to reinforce our actions with some explanation and “hands-on” experiences. Doing things with our kids is critical and vital to developing their thinking and analysis faculties. Making them responsible from a young age is critical. You do not want to spend 60 years building an empire only for the kids to take a month to drink the empire away.

Starting at a young age, teaching kids money management will help them in their understanding of financial matters and this will translate to them being better at everything else in their lives because money is the denominator of our lives.

When paying children an allowance, avoid tying it to specific chores. Instead, tell your child the purpose of their allowance is to teach them in managing money. Especially if they are boarding school, it’s easier to monitor and talk to them about their spending habits. The following are some of the tips that I would like to encourage parents like myself to encourage their kids to do. A habit takes 21 days to form permanently. It’s easy to train our children into better financial managers than us. Here are some points that we, as parents can practice on a daily as we train our kids through examples;-

  1. Encourage everyone in the household to pitch in with chores without compensation expected. The responsibility of nurturing better citizens begins at the family unit and we as parents are in charge of that.

  2. Avoid using money as a reward or punishment. Teach your child that money is a tool to help them in life. Being clear, deliberate, and precise when explaining this is important.

  3. Let kids make mistakes and learn from them. This might include a purchase they later regret. The best teacher is life. Better they make mistakes when they are young than when they are old and alone.

  4. If you pay your child an allowance or monthly salary, increase it as he/she gets older. At the same time, increase the number of things they’re responsible for purchasing. Teach them how to manage the little that they have so that when they get much more, they don’t panic and ruin themselves.

  5. Let your child manage their spending money without your interference. This way, they can learn and understand how to feel the pain of mistakes they make so that the lessons stay for life.

  6. Encourage your child to save. Consider a matching program for long-term savings such as college or a car. We have a poor saving culture because of the challenges that we face with limited disposable income to save and invest because most of the time we are living from hand to mouth. This is a critical aspect of life. Saving for a rainy day.

  7. Encourage your child to give of their time, money, and talent to a charity, church, synagogue, local shelter, etc. Money is a weird aspect that I have never understood. But what I know is that the more one gives with a clean heart, the more they receive back in double measure. One good deed, always deserving another.

  8. Model needs versus wants by letting your child see you saying “no” to something you desire. Send them shopping and see how they pick stuff for the house. Critical learning space.

  9. Encourage your child to delay instant gratification by comparing prices on something before purchasing it. Teach them the need to window shop first before they commit.

  10. Once a child reaches his/her early teens, help them open a checking account. Oversee the writing of 3-4 checks each month as well as teaching your child how to balance their monthly statement. It’s important that they understand the aspect of banking or mobile money from a young age.

While teaching money management for children, be sure to talk about credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, mobile money, and online transactions and how they work and the proper use of them, and most important the need to pay back the money once borrowed.

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We need to teach them that borrowing is important but must only be done as the last resort and with a clear guideline on paying back the money. I feel for children born since Jubilee took over. Do not ask why. I have gone to watch cartoons.

Discuss marketing techniques that will come their way, offering too-good-to-be-true no-interest offers. Make them understand that money goes where there is value. That money abhors a vacuum. That money and hard work and integrity go hand in hand. Let them understand the critical consequences if they break this sacred aspect of money and indulge in schemes that seems to make money out of thin air.

Research by the University of Cambridge reveals children as young as seven years old have an understanding of basic concepts related to finance. This is critical to ensure they know what money is all about.

Matheson says kids learn best by experience. You can teach a child the difference between a need and a want, but they won’t be able to correctly discern between the two without practice in the real world, like at the grocery store. Practice makes perfect.

With our busy schedules, we seem to delegate a lot and let our teachers and house girls take care of our children. This is wrong. We must walk with them on this journey without delegating. While apps can be a useful way to introduce some of the concepts related to managing money, advocates say the apps shouldn’t solely be responsible for educating children on financial concepts.

The Co-operative Bank of Kenya has some great products that I think are tailored towards instilling among children the art of saving and planning for their finances. Other banks have similar products too but I feel, those from Co-operative Bank stand out.

Currently, they have a Visa pre-paid card known as Co-opPay. The card is for students to use for shopping while within or without the school, use it to withdraw cash at an ATM, but most importantly, the parent is able to track the spending. As a parent, this is an amazing product.

Tell your money what to do or it will leave you.





About Steve Biko Wafula

Steve Biko is the CEO OF Soko Directory and the founder of Hidalgo Group of Companies. Steve is currently developing his career in law, finance, entrepreneurship and digital consultancy; and has been implementing consultancy assignments for client organizations comprising of trainings besides capacity building in entrepreneurial matters.He can be reached on: +254 20 510 1124 or Email: info@sokodirectory.com

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