MWIRIGI: Why you should get your kids hooked to the idea of saving

MWIRIGI: Why you should get your kids hooked to the idea of saving

The millennial generation has been bombarded with a lot more information than those who were growing up a decade ago as technology continues to bridge the learning gap. We have all noticed and comment about it in casual conversation, how much kids today know things so much earlier than we did. Your parents said it, now you say and so will the next. In fact, the big question or perhaps a general musing is, what will children be like in about 50 years assuming the path as we see it now remains generally true.

Some things, however, never change. Life’s uncertainties whether basic or self-actualized remain real. The better prepared one is, the better one can expect to deal with any change in circumstance, and if nothing else, at the very least, sleep should be more forthcoming.

As children grow up, it is necessary to ensure that they are prepared to face not just the vagaries of life, but have adequate tools to forge a brighter future than that of birth, no matter how high or low. Choice, they say, is a right. This only really rings true if one has the foundation of a sound education to build on or the financial means to say no or yes. Thus it becomes critical to understand how to make the elusive illusion of choice, real.

To achieve this, we must inculcate a savings culture in ourselves and teach it to our children. Consumerism is no longer a western phenomenon, it’s now a global phenomenon that affects all our lives and drives our lifestyle expectations. In the last two or so decades, we have learnt to desire and demand a higher standard of living, which in itself is not the issue, but as we create the middle income of today, we must ask whether we are sustainably enabling its ability to survive and thrive.

A study carried out by Kenya Bureau of Statistics in 2016 in their Financial Access Household Survey indicated that 49% of Kenyans spend their earnings on day to day expenditure, 39.3 % of Kenyans spend their earnings for emergency purposes and 32.8% Kenyans save their income to cater for their children’s future education. While this is a commendable percentage that goes into savings, instilling a better understanding for our children will ensure that they consider savings as a top priority in future. They will grow up with the right culture.

Giving your children a good foundation and teaching them about money matters is critical for their personal development. I find that the game of Kumiliki is great for these lessons. It teaches math, how to own property, value of money and so many great lessons that should then be emphasized by taking this into the real world. Open an account, start saving, work for some funds, budget and learn the value of money. Showing them the basics such as how to budget, spend and save will establish good money habits for life.

Like all other life skills, the savings culture is very important. How to manage the smallest denomination is just a start in itself, and with time, parents are allowed to introduce as many sources and teaching modules as possible to inculcate this culture.

We have to continually support our children to be successful savers and the best way to often achieve this is by motivating them in order to pique and sustain their interest in the subject. The longer you are able to achieve this, the more fruits you will harvest.

One way we can accomplish this is by engaging them and learning about what they like, what they yearn for. A list of things they would like to acquire helps you also understand your child’s interests and together you can draw up a plan on how long and how much it will take to purchase this particular item.

These dreams help children exert more effort to obtain what they need and thus develop a greater regard for money, and especially how hard it is to get money.

This will keep them focused on their goal and avoid splurges on candy and unnecessary items that may prolong the period of accomplishing their aim.

Opening a children’s saving account is among the best gifts you can give your child. Showing them the balance every time you deposit their ‘hard earned’ savings will give them even more joy because it instills in them a sense of pride that forms part of the journey they have made.

In the event that they attain their goal, withdrawing the money in their presence is sure to encourage them that savings have a longer term value addition than they had previously imagined. The take out from their first experience of saving and achieving their most prized possession is enough to imprint in their lives a savings future.

One benefit of imparting a saving ethos while the children are still young is that the ability to delay gratification can also point at how successful one will be as a grown-up. Children from a young age need to learn that if they really want something, they should wait and save to buy it. Delayed gratification is something that can be taught to our kids.

We should actually financially plan for our children from an early age, and pass on these skills to them as we go along.

Finally, in the words of Beth Kobliner, author of the New York Times bestseller Get a Financial Life, “Parents are the number one influence on their children’s financial behaviors, so it’s up to us to raise a generation of mindful consumers, investors, savers, and givers.” Let us strive to take charge of our children’s financial future before it is too late tpo provide meaningful lessons.

 Angela Mwirigi is the Director – Marketing and Communication at KCB


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