Financial education for children

Matthew Lipman, renowned American pedagogue and founder of the methodology known as “Philosophy For Children” raises an interesting paradigm in the education of girls and boys. When we are born, we come into a world where adults decide for us, and normally this goes on until the end of adolescence, when it’s time for us to make important decisions like choosing the profession that will shape our future activities. When we do not exercise the ability to make decisions, so often we will make the wrong ones.

When it comes to financial literacy, this is a common issue. Children generally don’t have enough background to decide what they will spend and how. They have been given little information about the importance of saving, not to mention them not being taught to invest the money. It is not surprising that so many young adults are in economic difficulties due to not knowing how to manage their credit, and/or for spending more than what they earn.

For this reason, we invite you to include the children in your family in the process of making financial decisions. We are not proposing you let them choose how the family income will be allotted, but rather that you set up with them small financial tasks that will help them exercise their ability to decide. You can offer them a small weekly amount in exchange for completing certain tasks for the benefit of the family. Then teach them how to distribute their income in a diversified way — part of it can be spent, but they also have to save. If they decide to invest, you can help them, with a part of the money they invest, to buy something big after a certain period.

Children understand much more than we think when it comes to their family finances. Great goals should be shared, and everyone can contribute to achieve those goals, according to their potentials. If, for example, you want to go on vacation, children can help by recycling their school supplies from the previous year to avoid more expenses.

Also, remember that providing an example is very important, and that children learn most from what we do than what we say. Teach them by example; save, invest, plan, and try to involve them in family decisions, and the reasons for making those decisions. Doing so will save them from worries and problems as adults.

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