Finance for the Young: Possible or Implausible?
The topic of money is met with a considerable amount of scepticism and unignorable groans of boredom and unwillingness. Yes, learning finance is important, but it’s also vast and daunting - often resulting in childrens’ reluctance in learning it at all! Here comes the star of our article- Mala Kumar’s “Rupaiya Paisa” books. In this article, we explore the array of benefits reading the series has to offer- and the limitations it poses.
Rupaiya-Paisa isn’t one of those drawling books that we often pass off with disdain- this is a solution at its finest. The series employs the use of simple language and flamboyant colours to fully immerse its readers in the educational experience the books provide.
“Most parents don’t know where to start when explaining monetary concepts with children.” says Priya Fonseca, children’s books author. “My husband and I too thought that we had covered all the basic aspects and were in for a rude shock when we realised our seven year old son’s concepts about money were quite muddled.”
This is precisely why author of Rupaiya Paisa- Mala Kumar says, “The Rupaiya Paisa series uses simple, everyday situations and familiar situations in a child's life to explain crucial topics like earning, saving and spending.”
The series also employs the use of reading levels which help individuals pick the right book for themselves based on their own needs.
"Reading levels are a detailed way to pair your child’s reading ability with books they can successfully read and understand. They measure a child’s reading progress. If your child is primarily reading books at or just above their determined reading level, they are more likely to find reading enjoyable.” says Prodigy Education, an organisation which harnesses the power of game-based learning- anytime, anywhere.
Yet, I expect an inkling of doubt lingers in your mind- why present it to a younger audience?
Well, as B. Srinivasan, a Bangalore-based financial planner says, “The earlier kids know about money basics, the better it is."
Children who build good money habits early in life not only avoid financial pitfalls as adults, but also develop a sense of responsibility about their finances. They feel confident and empowered when it comes to managing their money.
“Money becomes part of a child's life very early on. It could be a gift from a grandparent on your birthday. Or a coin that you're asked to drop into a donation box or hundi. It could be you seeing someone buy a fruit for you. You learn that it is something special, not to be dropped, stepped on or thrown away. When a child is old enough to understand this, she is old enough to be told a little about its importance too.” she said.
Reading such books isn’t a fool proof way to promote financial literacy. Are there any limitations to this solution, I wondered.
Mala shares her expert opinion: “A book provides a window to a world, a thought, an idea. It is left to the reader to choose to enter that world, to think about it or to take off with that idea or to ignore the invitation. In an ever-changing world, many things become obsolete very soon. The books have pointers about money that I hope children will use wisely to navigate their way in their present world.”
Fortunately for non readers, besides the books, there is another way to assist children navigate the world of finance!
“Children could be roped in to help the family to make decisions on what to buy, why and when. Schools could organise mock melas and flea markets. While not all families may like it, managing a small amount of ‘pocket money’ does teach children to be more responsible. Some may be irresponsible, lose it, spend it all at once, but those too become lessons on how not to abuse money.” said Mala.
Yet again, Mala reinforces on the fact of how money handling/ financial education for all is imperative.
“The way money is portrayed by some adults while explaining it to children is either that it is something we have to earn a lot of as a means to get everything one wants, or as something evil and to be shunned if we don’t want children to get corrupt! The truth is, we need money to take care of ourselves and others. Children need to learn from a very young age that money has to be respected and used carefully without hurting ourselves, our co-dwellers on this planet, or the planet itself. For example, earning a lot of money, building huge smoke-spewing factories in what was once a forest, earning even more, and then giving generously to charity to plant trees is definitely not an ideal way of dealing with money!”
While the series is a compelling tool to teach children financial literacy, readers are to adapt their own methods and inculcate finance by making the experience an interactive and hands-on one!
Money is a tool. Used properly it makes something beautiful; used wrong, it makes a mess!
Written by Nivrrithi Arvindkumar
Nivrrithi is a seventh-grader from Chennai who strongly believes that words are revolutionary, if exploited to their fullest potential. She is a ballet and tap dancer who firmly believes that it transports one into a world of reverie. She greatly enjoys public-speaking and writing powerful pieces that centers around intense emotion. She hopes to publish a short story and a photography blog which is currently in the making and is a part of her school's Newsletter Team. Her main drive is fascination that keeps her ardent about the generalized idea of learning.