Africa-Press – Liberia. Having, like any other skill, is learnt better at a very young age. However, in most African countries, most parents believe children have nothing to do with money, at least until they get into their teens.
In Rwanda for example, children will most likely not learn any money skill until they are in their late teens, unless they are born in families that have a well oriented background with money.
Hajjati Mujawase, who runs a hardware shop in Gakinjiro, Gisozi says that before she ventured into business, she thought that exposing children to money at an early age would distract their life plans.
“I honestly thought that when children get exposed to money, they get spoilt or become money minded at an early age. But when I started doing business, I started involving them to support me as the business expanded,”
“The more they got involved, the more responsible and shrewder they became and even their performance in school improved. They started saving the money I gave them as a reward, before I knew it, they had accumulated impressive savings to start their own small businesses or buy gadgets,” Mujawase says.
Despite getting used to money, their school performance did not decline and the more focused they became. “Saving money is not among the skills they are taught at school. They picked it up when I started involving them in my business,” Mujawase adds.
Saving money is one of the most important skills children have to learn early on. In the African beliefs, children must not be exposed to money until they are considered grown to manage it. Many have to learn it late in life or never learn it.
Below are five tips that can help you teach your children saving skills at a very young age.
Get them a piggy bank
A piggy bank can be a great way to teach your kids the importance of saving, while giving them an easy way to do it. If you can’t find a real piggybank, you can improvise with a seal cooking oil tin or bottle.
Tell your kids that the goal is to fill up the piggy bank with paper money or coins, until there is no room. Illustrate that the piggy bank is for saving money for the future and that the more they save, the more their money will grow. Use the opportunity to tell them that they must earn the money by behaving well.
Open a bank account
Once the piggy bank is full, take your child to the bank to open up a savings account for them. Have them count how much money is going to be deposited, so they can have a physical understanding of how much money they have. Show them the final number and reinforce the idea of interest.
It can be tooth fairy money or money given by relatives. Also make them understand the cost they will incur when they want to acquire something out of their own money. Remind them that when they don’t spend their money will grow over time as long as they don’t touch it.
Saving for a toy
When your children really want their latest favourite toy or bicycle, let them know they will have to save up for it. Give them a jar for each of their desired purchases and offer them a small allowance each week in a denomination that encourages savings.
For example, if you give your child Rwf5, 000 a week, give it to them in Rwf500 bills. They can save all their cash for one purchase, or they can contribute to different “jars” for various savings goals in case they want more than two purchases.
To encourage saving up for their short-term goals, put a picture of their desired toy or item on the jar, so they have a visual reminder of what they are working towards.
Put a timeline
As a kid, the concepts of money and time can be hard to grasp. Research has shown that the impact of a one-hour financial lesson wears off after about five months. In order to make the message stick, money education should be timely and ongoing.
For example, if you know your child receives Rwf5, 000 from a tooth fairy, the moment to talk about budgeting is right before the tooth falls out. What will you do with your money in case the tooth fairy visits? This question can trigger lots of responses which will help them understand the concept of planning and budgeting. Tell them examples of what a certain amount of money can buy.
Practice what you preach Children learn by example, so the best way to teach your child about saving money is to save money yourself. Have your own jar of money that you put funds in regularly. When you’re out shopping, show your children how to discern between various prices and explain why buying one item makes better sense than another.