Dubai: If you are worried, your child does not fully understand the value of money, a newly launched initiative that focuses on children’s financial education in Dubai could be a step in the right direction.
The ‘Kids Finance Initiative,’ which was launched by an Indian-Portuguese Dubai resident and mother of two, Marilyn L. Pinto, introduces kids to the basic concepts of financial education, and helps mould a child’s perceptions about money.
The programme is available for two age groups — the primary programme for children aged between 8 and 11 years and the secondary for those aged between 12 and 15 years.
Children are taught various aspects of money management.
“We teach kids about the different money mindsets, the importance of goal setting, differentiating between wants and needs, all before getting into saving, spending, investing and donating,” said Pinto.
The programme covers the basics of saving, spending, investing and entrepreneurship in a way that is relevant to students’ everyday lives, encouraging them to manage money more responsibly.
While many parents prefer to keep quiet about money matters in front of their children, research shows that parents are the number one influence on their children’s financial behaviour, said Pinto.
“Many people think financial literacy is concerned with math and formula, and is not something that young children would easily grasp — but that is a popular misconception,” pointed out Pinto.
She explained that while financial literacy may have to do with numbers, it’s more about learning the ability to manage one’s finances competently. “This includes psychological, empirical and educational aspects and it is a code of conduct or behaviour rather than the ability to keep a record of household expenditure,” said Pinto.
During the classes, youngsters don’t sit down to an accounting class, rather the concepts they are being taught involve training in various aspects of money management in simple ways including role playing.
“We discuss various things that would qualify a person for a loan (collateral, steady job, existing debt, assets etc) and then given them different characters to play and then decide whether or not they would lend money to those characters. We also do similar role plays for understanding credit history,” explained Pinto.
The issues tackled in both the theory and practical sessions of the course teach the children how to make wise spending decisions, what it means to live below one’s means, how to budget, the difference between different forms of payment, and how to stay out of debt.
Several schools around Dubai have conducted the programme for groups of students, with several more signing up for the new academic year.
“All the lessons are age appropriate. The sessions are conducted by trained educators and are interesting and engaging with group discussions, activities and short videos,” said Pinto.
Classes for 10 groups of students are taking place on Saturday mornings at a number of schools across Dubai, with sessions open to students from any school.
“I have two daughters and realised that though they were pretty bright academically, they were utterly clueless when it came to money matters. This wasn’t their fault as this isn’t something that taught in schools,” said Pinto. She explained that while most kids she knew were similarly challenged when it came to financial education, she decided to change that and create the Kids Finance Initiative.
• Students who take financial education courses are less likely to be compulsive buyers, more likely to save and less likely to max out their credit cards.
• As few as 10 hours of financial education can improve students’ spending and saving habits.
• Kids and teens are spending far more money than any previous generation did at their age.
• Children who learn the basics of spending, saving, investing and managing money acquire financial skills for success.
• 78% of expatriates in the UAE who return to their home countries go back with less money than they arrived with.
• 70% of UAE nationals under 35 are in debt.
• Schools teach little about personal finance.