The cure for financial illiteracy in one word is effort.
Effort comes in the form of classes, conversations, calculations, presentations, activities, experiences, repetition, and persuasively sharing with kids, their parents and teachers that the habit of saving money is vital to their dreams and futures. These activities must happen repeatedly and in volume.
There are no ‘silver bullets,’ that would include games and products. There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions.
Constant, relentless effort – that is it!
The effort to teach kids about money must start early. Regretfully for kids, that is inverse to where 99 percent of the energy and resources are currently allocated in youth financial education.
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You should know:
- A Cambridge University study revealed, adult money habits are set by age 7.
- The first ever S&P Global Financial Literacy Survey in 2015 recently reported that just one-third of the world’s population is financially literate. (See financial literacy statistics below).
You should ask and/or think about:
- What is being poured incessantly into kids’ minds prior to age seven?
- Who is doing the pouring and programming?
- Why and how qualified are the people or devices who are doing the programming?
- See section at end of column titled – Statistics: Financial Literacy, Education, Capability
Undoubtedly, financial education is needed at every level, from cradle to grave. To argue financial education is ineffective may be popular, but it is also preposterous.
I can share with you it has worked for me and many others. What I can also share with you is, it is not miraculous. It is not necessarily instantaneous. It does not guarantee a person won’t make financial mistakes. And, it does not mean a person will be able to answer questions correctly that try to measure it. By the way, it is far more important that a seven-year old, or anyone for that matter, own a savings account and be adding to it regularly than to be able to define what it is. Although, with the right instruction, a seven-year old would be able to easily do that.
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Should financial education be more effective and efficient? Of course. To start with, we can adjust the timing and dosage of delivery to early and often.
A “smart” society would invest heaviest in its future at the point of greatest impact and influence – prior to age 7.
A “socially just” society would provide protections for those who are vulnerable, unable or less capable of protecting themselves (ie. children) from messaging that unabashedly aims to shape their thinking toward over consumption.
Sammy Rabbit’s stance is simple – he wants kids learning, reading, singing, playing games and doing activities related to great money habits as early as possible. He thinks the process should be as simple, interactive, repetitive, fun and fresh as we can make it. He also believes children are extraordinarily capable of understanding the concepts, they simply just may not be able to explain them. And for the record, the best place to start is at home, not schools.