Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finance made easy

Nicholas Cheah, 7, couldn’t hide his excitement as his little fingers flicked through the bank notes on his table.

Feeling very proud of himself, Nicholas’ face lit up when he finished counting his hard-earned “money” which came up to nearly 200 dollars.

When asked, however, if he could use the money before him to buy a Game Boy, he replied, “No, because these notes are fake.”

Nicholas was one of the participants at the Astro-Moneytree Money Savvy Camp where he learnt about the concept of money.

Organised by AstroLife – Astro’s loyalty programme to reward its customers – the camp aimed at instilling the values of saving, investing and budgeting among children.

Among the activities were a simulated auction, treasure hunt and introduction to the concept of money and budgeting.
There were also sessions for parents who wanted to learn the effective ways of teaching their children about the importance of managing their allowance money.

Parent Cheah T. S. said personal financial management should be taught in schools.

“What they teach in schools now is very academic and may not be adequate for children to ‘survive’ in society,” he said.

“Teaching children about the importance of saving money is not good enough. When children get older, they also need to know how to manage, grow and protect their money,” he added.

Trainer Chu Lai Yee was quick to caution that parents should not rely on any courses alone and expect their children to be financial-savvy over night.

“Parents must also do their job by reinforcing the positive values we teach in the camp at home,” she said.

As a start, Chu advised parents to treat their children like adults.

“Don’t give them the fish. Instead, show them how to fish. Show them how to, for example, open a bank account, rather than do it for them,” she said.

Making children work hard for something they want would make them understand the importance of money, she added.

“If they want something, they have to work for it. So they should be encouraged to take up summer jobs which they could earn some pocket money.”

However, she said, many Malaysian parents were overprotective and worried for their children’s safety, so most of them would not allow them to work.

“If that’s the case, parents perhaps could be the designated ‘driver’ that takes their children back and forth from work so they know their whereabouts,” she said.

When teaching children about financial management, Chu said parents or teachers should speak in a language that they could understand, such as by telling stories to explain complicated concepts

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