Finding charities like RedSTART that have similar ambitions to our own of helping to create a generation of financially responsible young people is great which is why we were pleased to be able to catch up with one of their co-founders Jonathan Letham to talk about what they thought about some key issues.
Who are RedSTART
RedSTART has the ambitious mission to have “1,000,000 kids who can budget, save, invest and give back.”.
They rightly believe that the need for financial knowledge to successfully manage your own money to retirement has never been more important and educating the next generation in financial literacy is not a luxury. It’s an imperative.
With that in mind RedSTART work with young people from all backgrounds across the UK to give them the skills, they need to manage their financial futures from a young age.
But enough about them, bet you’re wondering what we asked!
What age do you think children should start learning about money?
We believe the key to learning how to manage money is developing good financial habits. The earlier good habits are ingrained, the better. There is research to suggest that habits are learned by the age of 7 which is why we have developed material for the Primary School age group. A simply learned habit such as delayed gratification will be hugely beneficial once the children start dealing with money in the real world.
What’s the best piece of money advice you have been given?
To automate my savings. Creating a rule to direct debit 20% of your earnings every month to a savings account means that, by the end of the year, you are satisfied to find a lump of money has built up without you even needing to think about it.
What’s your top tip on teaching children the value of money?
In our sessions, we don’t preach “money will make you happier”. Instead, we want them to focus on being able to manage whatever money they have effectively. We also encourage children to visualise the future - what do they want to achieve? In many cases, having some savings is essential to achieving their goals.
What specific lessons, if any, do you give for children shopping online?
We don’t necessarily focus on shopping online unless it comes up in our discussions. However, one of the key things to watch out for online is scams. In our “Money Matters” session, we use the character “Rich Ricky” to warn our students of the dangers of schemes that seem too good to be true. In this section, the children are promised that Rich Ricky will double their money with no strings attached which attracts a lot of attention. However, in the end, Rich Ricky never turns up with any money! This leaves many of the children extremely disappointed but is a powerful message of the dangers of scams.
How do you approach giving an allowance, are children free to do what they like, or do you set rules to help them learn to save and ensure they don’t blow the lot?
I would give children the freedom to do what they like from as early an age as possible. This combined with engraining good habits will mean they will learn from experience which I believe will have the most powerful long-term impact.
How do you think financial education could be taught better?
I think there could be more focus on practical money skills from an early age in Primary Schools. Teachers already have a lot on their plate but including more practical lessons on the curriculum will have huge benefits to the students in the long run.
Do you think greater emphasis needs to be placed on practical hands-on lessons, so children can learn by doing?
Absolutely. I think the best way for children to learn is from real experience. That is why we created the interactive game “Money Matters” where children are given a virtual £500 to spend on different stations in the room. Each station is aimed to teach a different concept (such as budgeting, compound interest, and risk & return) which the children learn by paying to play the game. This way the students experience highs and lows as they win and lose money making the day memorable but also subtly teaching good money habits.
We have created an all-encompassing game called Money Matters for our primary school children whereby the students learn from experience rather than being taught in a lecture format.
Is the financial services sector doing enough to create safe products that enable children to experience the cashless society first hand?
There are a few offerings out there which let children spend money through a payment card with the oversight of their parents. This is a great way for children to experience saving and spending money in a safe environment. However, this requires the engagement and ongoing involvement of parents which is an area we are looking to focus on in the future.
The Easter holidays are approaching. What advice would you give to help children stay on top of their money during the break when the temptation to blow their allowance in the arcade will be at its greatest?
The Easter holidays are always a great time to have some fun with your friends so I definitely wouldn’t advise against that! If you are lucky enough to have an allowance, just make sure to put some of it in a safe place so you don’t spend it all at once and you are able to save for that thing you really want to do or buy in the future.
Hope you enjoyed their answers as much as we did. You can find out more about RedSTART in the video below: