When Dr Arinola Araba wanted to help her kids understand the value of money, she found a novel way to get the message across – and has now inspired others across the UK and beyond. Here she explains how it all began and offers her top tips to help your kids learn how money works.
The way we do business and pay for things has changed so much recently that explaining to a child how money works presents a very different challenge than it did just a few years ago.
The popular phrase ‘cash is king’ seems to be losing its place now that we have so many different ways to pay for goods and services. And this world of easy credit and electronic transactions means it can be difficult to explain to children how money works.
But given that research suggests money habits are picked up from as early as age five to seven, it is crucial that the younger generation understand their finances so they can develop a better relationship with money that can help them to gain ‘financial freedom’ later in life.
I am a single mum to three young adults, who are all currently at university. When the children were younger and in primary school, they were introduced to the idea of undertaking chores and earning pocket money.
But when I entered a period in my life when redundancy and lower wages became a reality, I realised the children needed a better understanding of how you work or solve a problem to earn money; it does not sit in the bank, at the ready when you insert a card into the cashpoint. And I had to fi nd a way to get that message across.
That conversation began with 22 teenagers in our local east London community, followed by hours of workshops where we had many conversations about the origins and uses of money. The bMoneywize board game was born as a result of this project, and I believe my children now have a sound financial understanding because of it. They all hold part-time jobs while studying and they contribute to the running of the home when they come back during the holidays.
The game itself has gone on to gain recognition on a national and international scale, and I now go into schools to teach children money skills using the board game during either their maths or PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) lessons.
If I had to give parents or other family members my top tips to teach children about money, they would be as follows:
1. Show children, with relevance to their age, how you deal with your finances – whether that’s making payments or managing bills – and make it fun.
2. Encourage children to save towards something they want. This goal will give them a feeling of control and achievement.
3. Reward children, if possible, to help them understand the benefits of saving and earning interest. You could, for example, offer to pay part of the cost of an item they are saving up for.
4. Children need opportunities to practise handling money in age-appropriate ways; either through play or by taking responsibility for paying smaller items or bills or helping with chores around the home.
5. Teach children to take care of the money they do earn.
Dr Arinola Araba is an author and the inventor of the bMoneywize game, which focuses on helping young people learn maths and financial skills in a fun way. You can buy a copy for £24.27 (£19.97 plus £4.30 p&p) on Bmoneywize.co.uk