Teaching kids to be money smart starts at home

As we move towards a cashless society, teaching our kids good financial habits becomes increasingly difficult. Spriggy co-founder Mario Hasanakos suggests it doesn’t have to be this way…

In 2016 only 37 per cent of payments were made in cash. So why are we still teaching our kids about money via old-school methods of notes and coins? It’s a question Mario Hasanakos often pondered before embarking on the road to building Spriggy, an app that helps parents teach kids about personal finance in a fun effective way.

Hasanakos tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) the next generation of spenders are growing up in a vastly different landscape to that of previous generations. In today’s tap and go world it’s easy to lose track, especially if you don’t have money smarts to begin with. It’s one of the reasons, Hasanakos and co-founder Alex Badran decided to build Spriggy.

As a child, Hasanakos recalls he never really had much pocket money – but his parents did instil in him a good work ethic, encouraging him to work and study to better himself.

“My parents worked very hard to do everything they could to make sure we had the opportunity to be better off than them. Education always came first and they scrimped and saved so we would have everything we needed for school. They never let up that we had to work hard, go to university, get good jobs so we wouldn’t have to struggle like they did and give our kids more opportunities,” Hasanakos remembers.

“I worked hard at school and did extracurricular activities to compete for scholarships, whilst working at McDonalds saving up, because, at the time, it was really the only way I could have afforded to go to university.”

Hasanakos says money seemed quite scary to him as a child but he feels it needn’t be this way for the next generation.

“If Spriggy can help a generation of Australian families share that with their kids, I feel like we can make a positive impact on young lives.” he says.

“We quite like the idea that our personal financial futures and the futures of our members are intimately linked, if we can help Australians build wealth and be happy about financial decisions then we’ll be part owners of a successful business and on our own way to financial happiness,” he adds.

Hasanakos says one of the scariest things he and co-founder Alex saw when working in the finance industry was just how little people understood about how the industry worked. 

“Worse still, just how much certain people and institutions exploited that illiteracy for their own gain. Seven years in the industry and it was pretty obvious to me that we needed to do something to help the next generation of Australians be better with money.”

He suggests teaching kids about money through pocket money is the first step.

“We learn best by doing, and it’s the same with money. By allowing kids to manage small amounts of money regularly, they will begin to understand where it comes from and that it’s not an endless supply. They will make mistakes, but that’s how we learn and grow. It’s better to make the mistake at 8, than at 28,” he laughs.

Hasanakos says at Spriggy they spend a lot of time with families from all over Australia and time and time again there are four simple lessons that pocket money teaches

  1. The difference between wants vs needs – learning that there isn’t an endless supply of money and that not getting everything you want isn’t such a bad thing, as long as you can afford everything you need.
  1. Every purchase has an opportunity cost – Even if you’re lucky enough to afford some of the things you just want, you can’t afford them all.  Every dollar you spend on something, is a dollar you could spend on something else you might want more.
  1. Make money mistakes – the best way in the world to learn is by doing.  Pocket money is magical for that, it gives kids an opportunity to learn by doing, make their own choices and their own mistakes along the way.  And learning not to make those mistakes the next time around.
  1. Delayed gratification – Perhaps the most important lesson of all, learning that sometimes it makes sense to give up something you really want today for something you really really want in the future.

“Ultimately the most important outcome of pocket money is the experience to set them on a positive path.”

According to Hasanakos digital money is here to stay and he suggests parents don’t let this daunt them.

“Cash is on the way out. You may have learnt to put dollars in a piggy bank, however teaching this to kids is like teaching them to build a fire and boil the billy for a cup of tea.

“Today’s kids and the next generation are and will be digital natives. Prepare your kids using digital apps like Spriggy. We make sure it is a safe and controlled environment that still gives them real-world experience.”

Spriggy Pocket money do’s and don’t’s

DO’s

Do Start Early It is never too early to start giving pocket money. You could start off with a piggy bank with coins and as their capabilities improve move them to a digital pocket money system – obviously Spriggy!

Do Make it a Regular Payment Whatever the frequency it teaches kids how to budget. Like adults do between pay cheques.

Do Talk about Money It’s not a taboo topic. Talk about what they are saving for or planning on spending their pocket money on. Maybe over the dinner table or on the way to the shops. Regular, open conversation is key.

Do Supervise. Allow your kids to decide what they want to spend their money on, but also keep an eye on it.

Do Prepare them for Digital Money – future proof them!

DONT

Don’t Over Complicate it – agree on how much to give and how often to give.

Don’t expect them to get it straight away – pocket money is their training. They will make mistakes, but this is sometimes when the best lessons are learnt.

Don’t Put off Pocket Money – it could be one of the most useful things you can teach your kids. Money is part of our everyday lives.

Don’t demonise WANTS, desires are okay in moderation.

You can catch Hasanakos and the folk from Spriggy at the Your Money Your Life Expo at the ICC at Darling Harbour on November 9 & 10. Get your free ticket here.

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Cec is the managing editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, CULT, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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