Most of us come from a generation where money was a taboo topic. In fact, money in Setswana’s usually referred to as “sengwenyana” or “di-parcel”, rarely was it referred to as what it really is, madi.
As a child, I wasn’t really taught about money. It was only when I was a teenager that my mother began to teach me about buying my own blankets. Funnily enough, she’s still big on this. Beyond buying blankets, the bigger lesson was to own my own things like cups, plates, big bowls, jugs etc.
How I Started Saving
As soon as I started University, my Mum encouraged me to open a BBS Account that was called Paid-Up Shares. This was one of the best lessons she ever taught me. My friend and I would save almost every month as soon as our allowance was credited into our accounts. This money would prove to be extremely significant in the later years of our lives.
When my friend got married she used some of that money to pay for her wedding. Later that year when I got married, I cashed out some of my own money. And when the chance came I invested in shares with BBS Bank. So these are great lessons I learnt in those years about saving.
Because of this, I made it a point to teach my firstborn daughter about money as soon as she was old enough. We started in March 2020 after she turned 4 years old.
Teaching My Toddler About Money
I decided to go with the simple method of an allowance as per her age. At the age of four, she doesn’t need money for anything really. At this point, it’s more about teaching her the habit.
I went to Shoprite and bought a glass jar. I wanted something clear where she can see her money go in to, and see it sitting there. After bringing the jar home I gave her markers and let her go wild decorating it.
She did a lot of squiggly lines in different colours and looked at me with a huge smile, “Mama look”, and like any parent would, I gushed and praised her. It looked beautiful in a childlike way and gave her a sense of ownership because she’d decorated it.
I moved on to explain to her why I bought the jar and what it was for. Her face lit up. We would put in P4.00 every month because she’s 4 years old. You’re welcome to do this weekly if you wish.
Every month without fail, okay some months we were late, but we still would put P4.00 in the glass jar. I make it a point to switch up the denominations, to teach her the 5thebe, 10thebe, 25thebe, 50thebe, P1, and P2. So each month I brought, for example, 2x50thebe, P1 and P2. Then I’d explain them all to her.
Initially, it did seem like gibberish to her but I could see that she was processing it all. Soon enough she would remind me that she needs to put money into the glass jar. Each time we would add in P4. It’s now February 2021, and we’ve almost come full circle.
This year she’s starting to notice the differences in the coins and is able to identify some of them. It brings me immense joy to see that happen.
She’s 5 years old next month and we’ll be moving on to P5 per month, adding the P5 coin to the mix. These are all simple and basic lessons but ones I believe toddlers and young children can grasp. You just need to make it a routine and keep encouraging them and teaching them why the P1 is different from the P2 and so on. Before you know it, they’ll be attempting to teach you about money!
It’s so fascinating to watch children learn. They thirst for knowledge. With exceptions here and there; when I ask my daughter to practice the alphabet, chances are we will both end up in tears! Nevertheless, we persevere, and the lessons she’s learning as a child will become the building blocks that will mould her into a responsible adult.
Lessons For My Two Year Old
I hope to start this practice with my second daughter later this year when she turns 2 years old. I want to see how her mind adapts as I’ve come to realize that second-born children catch on faster to things as they copy their siblings. She always looks at her sister with interest as she adds the coin to her jar. I do believe at first she will just be excited to throw money in something, but eventually, she’ll learn the reasons why.
Building Healthy Financial Habits While They’re Young
As time goes and they both get to a stage where I believe that they can comprehend these lessons, I’ll make sure to teach them how to use their money and why it’s important.
Some of the money will go to spending on things they like, some they’ll set aside as savings, and some of the money can be used to help someone who is less privileged. All these lessons are to show my daughters why it’s important to have a particular purpose for her money.
Since this is a life long journey, I’ve opened savings accounts for my daughters. Savings Accounts such as the Tema Savings Account offer flexible, long term Ts & Cs that allow me to graduate my girls from the jar to their own bank accounts when they’re are old enough. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they get their own debit cards and our first trip to the ATM!
Parents, when did you start teaching your children about money? Have you started? If not, just know it’s never too late or too early to start.
** This article is proudly sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank Botswana**