Preparing Kids for Financial Success

Link to the Episode

Anshu Bahanda: Welcome to another episode of Wellness Curated. This is your host, Anshu Bahanda, and as you know, my aim with this podcast is to help you lead a healthier, happier, more hopeful life by giving you tools, approaches, ideas, and techniques that will help you. In this season, we’re going to be talking about financial wellness and today’s episode is a very important one. It’s about preparing kids for financial success. Now, teaching children about money early on is meant to be key to setting them up for financial success later in life. Understanding money and how it works can give them a head start in life. 

We have with us today a very special human being, Soha Gawaly. She is the founding partner and CEO of The Strategic Investment Group and she’s one of the highest-ranking women in hedge funds. Soha is also passionate about educating underprivileged girls and helping them achieve their full potential in life. Welcome to the chat Soha, and thank you for making the time to be here with us today. 

Soha Gawaly: Thank you so much for this lovely introduction. I hope I won’t disappoint and thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about this subject. 

AB: So, Soha let’s jump into questions. A lot of studies highlight that it’s very crucial to give children financial literacy at a young age. So, what do you think are the key financial skills and concepts that children should acquire to set them up for success later on in life? 

SG: In my opinion, everything you give a child depends on the stage of life the child is in. And I’m speaking from not my own experience as a financial professional, but I’m speaking from my own experience as a mother who has a daughter with whom I address this subject with, throughout the different stages of her childhood. So, I do believe financial literacy is really important. I think it’s more important for this generation because, from a very young age, children are bombarded with things that are commercial and have to do with money. With the rise of the interaction of children with social media very early on in life, like TikTok and Instagram, which are effective currently. They might have been social media platforms a couple of years ago, but right now they’re actually like consumer marketing platforms for people to buy things and acquire things. And children are starting to be on these things from five years of age, six years of age, seven years of age. And they’re starting to think… due to peer pressure in this highly automated environment, with being online all the time, they’re starting to think that everything is within their reach or they should have everything. And I think the starting point should be to teach children what’s the difference between ‘what you actually need’ and ‘what you actually want.’ And I think if you distinguish that from the very beginning, you begin deciphering for them step-by-step: financial language, financial independence, and financial tools. And I think as early as about four or five years of age is when you should really start exposing children to this. I would have said a couple of years ago, I would have said the first time I talked to my daughter about money was when she was about seven, eight years old, I think parents… like I have a niece that’s 12 years old and she is engaged in money and online shopping. She has her own little account. She has a debit card that her mother gives her her allowance on. And I think that started way earlier. My daughter didn’t get a debit card until she was about ready to go to college, when she was at the end of her high school years. So, I think financial literacy does need to start early. And because it needs to start early, obviously you can’t sit in front of a five-year-old and talk about stocks and bonds and the market. But you’re going to start by exposing them to things like board games and role-playing and different things…maybe games that have to do with coins. In our generation, people played Monopoly a lot and you would buy things and save. So, you need to start maybe getting every child a piggy bank, getting them to decorate their own piggy bank and put the money in it. And then they can collect money [that way]. Because in the beginning, the financial conversation is hard because children don’t make their own money and they’re not working and it’s actually money that you give to them. So, you have to find ways first to broach the subject and then as the stages change from pocket money to money because they do chores to internships where they can make some money or outside jobs— when they’re a bit older, to then going away to college— I think at every stage of that, the tools and the discussion will be different. 

AB: You’re saying start when they’re very young, maybe with a piggy bank, playing board games, which have to do with money, role-playing games. But given what you’re saying, and I agree, when you and I brought up our children, we didn’t have so much social media, we didn’t have TikTok, and we didn’t have Instagram, and we didn’t have so much of this consumer culture. Given that exists today, how do we encourage our children to have, or the children who are being brought up now to have sensible spending habits and to make informed financial decisions? Because there seems to be so much consumerism. 

SG: I think that the world has a lot of consumerism. It is obviously very strong, but also kids have a lot of peer pressure at school about wearing the right shoes, especially kids that are living in major metropolis cities. Some kids are not exposed to so much affluence early on. I’m talking about the kids that live in London, New York, Paris, Frankfurt, major cities where they’re going to schools, where all of this is happening all the time. And I think the best thing to start, in my opinion— the way to go about it before you actually start structuring specific steps— is that they learn from the conversation at home and they learn from what they see. So, the parents have to be very honest with themselves if they really want to tackle this issue. I think it’s very important for your children to understand that what they see in their family is different from what they might see in another family. How much their father and mother make might be very different from a family that has a huge industrial company; someone who’s an investment banker is very different from someone who’s a shop clerk. And I don’t think people should shy away from this conversation; just like we’re all different about where we come from, what we believe, what our colour might be, our orientation might be. I think it’s really important to explain to children first that different people have different means and we need to be sensitive to that. And then they learn from what they see you doing. So, I feel like if a parent is always buying whatever their child wants without explaining anything, they see their parents shopping all the time without saying anything about the value of money. And again, whether we actually need this or just want it, and if we do want it, why do we want it? And it’s okay to want things, but then don’t say you need it because you can very well live without it. So, I think that dialogue needs to start at home. They learn from what they see. If they see you spending in a very irrational way, and then you say, ‘Well, no, you can’t buy this,’ they’re obviously not going to be listening or learning anything from that message. 

AB: No, that’s absolutely right. And what you’ve said about what they see, we set an example for our children. So, children see this at home. But also, what I’ve realised, we’ve been doing this financial well-being season, and I always suspected this, but I didn’t realise before I did this season how complicated people’s relationship with money can be. Right? Now, how do we make sure that that doesn’t get transferred onto the children? Because obviously, children are like sponges. They absorb what they’re seeing around them, especially in their families. And if the parents have a complicated relationship with money, how do we stop the children? Or how do parents make sure that their children’s relationship with money is okay? 

SG: Look, lots of people have a very complicated relationship with money. Being in the finance industry and having worked at a certain point with wealth managers and with family offices that are managing money for very large and wealthy families, I could see how difficult even the interpersonal relationships and motives behind family relationships are because of money. What you want to avoid is you want to teach your child that money is only a tool, just like education is a tool, just like any skill is a tool. You teach them that money in itself is not important, but that money in itself is a tool we use to achieve certain goals. And you start to teach them about how to set those goals. So, if you teach them, for example, about saving to buy something they really want and to work toward that, to earn it. So, I think that’s one way to uncomplicate the relationship, by teaching them first it’s a tool. By teaching them that they can be in control. If they want something really, then they can, for example, save from the money their parents give them; save from birthday money, Christmas money, and things that grandparents give. If they’re older, like they’re 13 or 15, whatever, then they can be doing chores or working outside the house, like do a newspaper run, work in a charity shop, and do the little things that younger kids can get jobs in. And they would be making some money out of that and then they can be in control of that money. They earned it, and therefore they have the right to control it. And they can set a goal like, I want to buy, let’s say earphones, I want to buy a new phone, I want to buy whatever, where you make them realise the value of money. But that it’s a tool and not the aim. I think the relationship becomes complicated. And that’s why I started by saying it’s important to segregate between what we need and what we want. The other part of that is what is financial independence and what is wealth? A lot of kids, especially kids who have financial parents, grow up and say things like, ‘I want to be rich, so I’ll be a hedge fund manager.’ You want to really have a very serious conversation around this and explain to them that being rich is not an aim, it’s not a goal to have. And then you uncomplicate the relationship this way. And I think there are a lot of apps now which weren’t the case ten years ago, about financial literacy, budgeting, saving, and charity. So, I think one of the main things I did with my child was have a discussion about money. I was very conscious about this because I grew up in a house where nobody ever talked about money.

AB: I think in our generation when we were growing up, people didn’t discuss it.

SG: People didn’t discuss it! Obviously. We were lucky enough, you and I. We grew up in fairly affluent homes, so we didn’t have the kind of traumas around parents that needed to work three jobs and not spend time with us because they can’t afford this. Or we didn’t have to leave school because our parents couldn’t pay our tuition or didn’t go to college on school loans. But a lot of people who have that situation, get exposed to money much earlier than people like us. And so, I felt that my daughter needed to be exposed because I felt that I was never exposed. Nobody ever told me, you need to save or this is too much, or this is too little. So, with my daughter, what I did was any money she had, whether it was like pocket money, like five pounds every couple of weeks, or whether some family member gave her money for her birthday or for Christmas or whatever, I always told her that she has to split that money into three pools. The first pool was to spend it to do something that she liked or wanted, candy, whatever when she was younger. The second pool had to be saved so that she could just keep it in her piggy bank. And then if she wanted to actually buy something bigger, then she could be working towards that goal. The third pool was to give away to charity, and she could pick the cause to which she could give that money to. And this started from as little as she was seven years old. And I asked her to do that, and she was doing it very gladly. And now she’s 25 years old, living in New York, and today she obviously has a different skill set on how to manage her money. But this part about giving away part of it, and this part about understanding that there’s a difference between independence and wealth is natural to her now. It’s really important for a child to understand that financial independence is required for everybody. Wealth is a different story because not everyone’s going to become rich. And you don’t want from a young age exactly what you’re saying— children to become obsessed with the idea that the reason they’re doing all these things is just to become rich. 

AB: On that note, I want to ask you something. Is there an age which is too young to talk about money? Would you feel like, don’t start at this age, start later? Is there something like too young or not? 

SG: Look, if you’re five years old and you play a coin game or you play a shopkeeper that’s buying vegetables and fruits and things like that, I think those things that we were talking about before saving in a piggy bank. I don’t think you’re too young to ever be taught about the fact that money is a tool and it shouldn’t be your primary goal. I think you say it in little things when you’re younger. As they get older, you give them bigger examples, or you show them bigger examples. I think learning that you have a social responsibility toward the community that you live in, so the money that you make or are given, you should part with some of that [by giving it] to children that are less advantaged to you or to people around you. I think you’re not too young to do that. I think if a child bakes some cookies or makes lemonade and sells it when they’re five, or six years old at their beach home or in their schoolyard or whatever, that’s not going to harm them in any way. That’s going to teach them to be less self-centred. It’s going to teach them also that in their quest for money it’s not just for them that when they have more, they should part with more. So, you’re introducing philanthropy in a very gentle, fun way. Not everyone’s going to become Bill Gates and have a foundation, right? And you don’t want to set a goal that to be successful you need to become a hedge fund manager or an institutional manager. Then you have to have a foundation because lots of people’s paths won’t go that way and then people become frustrated and feel like they can’t help right? 

AB: And tell me when they get a little bit older, do you think financial learning should be part of a school curriculum? 

SG: I think so. And I think, let’s say for the English system, kind of like before the 11+ and after you’ve gone into secondary school, that should definitely be part of the curriculum. Just like they have things like design and technology, just like they have things that have to do with non-core courses that are not really part of sciences and maths and humanities. A lot of kids are exposed to entrepreneurship now because this generation is not like our generation. Kids are setting up companies from the ages of like 15 and 18 and things like that and I think before that if you give them financial literacy it will help a lot with entrepreneurship, which is a big theme with younger kids now. It will help a lot with the stage of them leaving home and getting prepared with living on their own. And so, I think, yes, financial literacy should be part of the curriculum. It should prepare people for things like wanting to study economics or finance because many people go to university and they say, I want to be a business major. They’ve never had a single financial course; they’ve never been exposed to any accounting principles of any kind before they go to university. So, I don’t think they should have it at age five or six, but I definitely think around that 11+ mark and after it, it would make a lot of sense for kids to have a financial literacy model, at least a choice. And then if parents say, well, my child can’t do that because I want them to study languages more, I want them to do something else, that’s fine. It would be nice to say that there should be some mandatory learning about finance. I think that’s very important. I advise every parent to encourage their child, even if they’re studying engineering, even if they’re not in the US system, which is a liberal arts education, where you can have a lot of electives. Whether you’re studying in Germany or in France, I think it’s really important for every parent to tell their child to take one basic accounting course and one basic finance course because they just can’t get on with the world around them if they don’t understand that. 

AB: That’s exactly what we’ve been telling the girls because neither of them has gone the finance way. But we’re saying it’s important to do one course in finance because unfortunately it’s not taught in schools, but for people who have younger children Soha, are there any resources or tools that you can recommend to teach children budgeting and financial management?

SG: You know Anshu there are so many apps online now and they are categorised by age. So, there are apps that are for teenagers and young adults and then there’s the apps that you and I would use, which are like financial budgeting tools. They basically get you to put all your information like how much you spend every month, and how much your income is, and then they model everything. And then some of these apps also are connected to older people. They can be connected to your bank account and they can be connected to your debit card. So, there are a lot of tools. And then there’s the traditional tool. In our household, when my daughter went to university, there were apps that she wanted to use. But actually, my husband told me that the best way to tackle this with her is to do it the old-fashioned way. Which is to get her to understand accounting. To get her to understand like a ledger account. And to start actually keeping her receipts and doing like the way we used to do expenses at work before, where you would have like a spreadsheet, you would put all your expenses in it. That’s how we started in our family with her, but I think with a lot of kids…

AB: And did she keep it up? 

SG: She has kept it up. And whenever she wants to discuss budgets with us now, like whenever she wants to say things like, ‘Well, I’m thinking, should I get a mortgage? Would you guys help me with a down payment and then I can pay you guys back for this and that?’ She always prepares a spreadsheet and these spreadsheets are based on her current expenses, and she always has a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario. As they get older, we’ve also taught her, which I think is really important when you’re young, you teach your kids about basic savings as they get older. You want to teach them that there are also hidden costs in their lives. So, things like subscriptions to Apple and Spotify, and subscriptions to diet programs, all these things have hidden costs because if you don’t pay by a certain time, they increase in price. If you don’t cancel them by a certain time, they increase in price. So, teaching your kids that this new world they’re living in has a lot of hidden costs. It’s not just a matter of signing up for five pounds for something or the other. I think that’s important. 

AB: That’s a very good point. Soha, I think a lot of kids miss that because they just think it’s a click of a button and they get everything, right?

SG: Yes. And things like, ‘Oh, I found this place to live in, Mom, and it’s really great.’ And they don’t know anything about how much extra cost they have to pay for utilities, for electricity. So, all of that, as they get older, you need to be helping them. And I think the best way to start once they’re a bit older is once they have a proper salary. And once they have a proper salary, go through one cycle of budgeting with them and then let them, after that, get on with it. And I think they do. Some will probably prefer the tech app route because some just do everything through tech, because you can even keep it on your phone, right? 

AB: Yeah. 

SG: You can bank on your phone, and you can have your budget on your phone, and you can have your monthly expenses on your phone. You can have that all on your phone. Now, I think a lot of people prefer that, especially the younger audience, than to actually have a notebook, where you sit or on your computer where you do a spreadsheet and you take notes and you do all of that. And really, there is so much on the market in terms of apps, and they classify them by age. So that some stuff, you know, you can’t show that to a younger kid because they just won’t understand at all. That would be my point of view.

AB: So, Soha, tell us about the apps that you would recommend that parents can use to educate their children about financial literacy. 

SG: Yes, there are a few that are quite good that have been used, other than the apps that come with some of the banks that have large student accounts, type of literacy. So, like, HSBC or Barclays have these large student accounts that they offer now for students both at school. So, anyone from kind of the age of 15 to 16 can have those. With the debit card, you get a student account. But along with that student account, you can, on the Barclays app, do all kinds of things like set all your direct debit, set all your budget, set all the things, all your expenses that come out. And then it even has a section for you to see if you can borrow. And then, obviously, older 18-year-olds have different accounts. There is Zogo, which gives bite-size literacy lessons. So, I assume this would be good because it gives you financial literacy at different stages depending on how complex you want it to be. There’s something called Rooster Money, which is something that works for young kids who are on allowance. There are stock market games that are for parents who want their kids to start a financial portfolio or start investing from a young age from their own allowance and from the money they save. And then there is Copper: Kids and Teen banking. Copper is a banking app and it’s designed to teach kids and teens about money management. And it fosters financial literacy. You can pay bills through it.

AB: That’s wonderful. Thank you, Soha. You know, as the world of finance gets more digitised, how can parents and educators assist children on navigating online banking, and digital payments, protecting themselves against scams, against identity theft? 

SG: I have had money taken out of my account and I have had my cards copied in places that I travel. And I’m a very well-travelled person. And I have a business card that I only use for business. I’ve separated how I use my cards to protect against this. So, this is one way you can do it. You can tell them that when you travel and when you go to places that you don’t know and all of that, you should have maybe one card that you use for all of these things. There’re a lot of new tools now for young adults, Anshu. There are things like the Revolut card and the Monzo and all of those. Those are a bit safer.

AB: Yes, I learnt about this from my daughter. The Revolut card. 

SG: Yes, exactly. And this Revolut card is kind of amazing. I don’t have one, but I also learned [about it] from my daughter. And it’s kind of amazing because you can Venmo to people through all of this. The way the transactions are being done, it’s a lot harder for scamming to happen. And you don’t have an actual account, it’s a virtual account. So, I assume those have higher levels of security than probably some of the other accounts. But look, I mean, British Airways had all its data of its customers and the cards, the credit cards that we use with BA stolen. So, I suppose there’s only so much you can do. But teach them things like don’t show your Pin to anyone, don’t give your debit card to anybody. Use these tools like Revolut and Monzo and these other ones. Try to do your transfers through those systems. You can exchange money through those systems. So, scams about exchange rates and stuff like that. You can convert from Dollar to Sterling, Sterling to Euro on these Revolut cards without commission and without any kind of transaction cost. It’s a continuous learning process because it’s a digital process now. And what you and I knew two years ago is completely irrelevant today. So, that’s why I’m saying financial literacy should be taught earlier now, because of this, because of social media— number 1. Second, because of this digital thing everything is on your phone, which requires a whole different set of understanding of how to maintain your budget, how to keep your credit card safe, and how to monitor your account. 

AB: The other day I got scammed because in front of a bank machine, someone had put in a device which looks just like the bank machine and it ate up my card and copied my PIN. So, just a warning to all parents out there. You need to tell your children to be very careful. Go into the bank and get your money out, use the tele machine inside a bank. 

SG: Well, this has happened to me before, so I understand what you’re saying because it’s happened before. I was in Germany and my card was eaten, the way you say. And it was the weekend so I couldn’t get my card back. Now, luckily, I had other cards. But then I’m an adult and a professional. There are lots of people that just have one card. If this happens, they might not have access to their account at all. 

AB: Exactly. 

SG: So, along with this world comes the concept that you have to be very vigilant. The Internet and all of this automated access and all this digital access has a lot of positives in it, like we said, but it also has a lot of negatives. People can hack into your data. And we know about hackers because if they can hack into government institutions that are counting votes in an election, then they can definitely hack into your account. And what I’m saying is it’s a continuous process of learning and being vigilant because it changes all the time. 

AB: Absolutely. So tell me, Soha, do you feel like there are any specific financial errors or misconceptions that parents commit when preparing their children for financial success? And if so, how can we do something about it? Or what can we do about it? Different people have different parenting styles. Every parent does the best they can. And you cannot claim to say, well, this method works because also the child has their own DNA and the circumstances that the child is growing up in and the influences that are affecting this family or this child or the peer pressure they’re experiencing at school, all of this is going to affect things. My take on parenting is that everything comes with the appropriateness of age. And that’s why I was saying to make them understand the difference between financial independence and wealth. One of the dangers is that kids become obsessed with money. That’s one of the main dangers. 

AB: Absolutely. And that’s why I asked you that question about what is the right age? Exactly. Because of that. 

SG: Because of that. And then the other problem that you encounter while you’re parenting about money is that kids might start to value people based on whether they have money or not. So, if your child is not exposed, is only exposed to quite a wealthy community or an affluent one, everyone’s talking about money, and then everyone’s got, like, very lovely cars, very lovely homes, all of this. They might actually begin to think that that’s the norm. And then people that don’t fit into that mould are less good than them, or they’re not equal to them. And so, you don’t want money to become almost like a classist thing or a thing that makes people feel better than others or worthier than others. So, that’s the danger if they’re too young and you haven’t put the right things in place, that they might also use language around money to intimidate other people or hurt other people that don’t have money. And so that’s why I’m saying— identify it as a tool, teach them from what you practise, and then build the information around money based on their age. So, you start very young, with the games and with the savings in a piggy bank. Then you move up from that into, like, chores and savings because you’ve got this extra money from your family. You can’t just spend it. Your grandmother all of a sudden gives you 100 pounds. You can’t just go out and do whatever you want with it. Then you plan this whole budgeting concept of splitting the money between different pots and them being responsible for that. And then you move into an internship or a job. So, it’s in stages. I see it that way. If it’s in stages, you should be able to avoid serious pitfalls with them becoming too obsessed. Or, God forbid, some kids get involved with illegal things, with social media again. Taking nude pictures of people and selling them, or taking nude pictures of themselves and selling them. Or being in an environment where they’re exposed to maybe someone who’s doing drugs, then they sell drugs to other kids. These things can be as a result of peer pressure and all kinds of problems, but also, they can be as a result of conversations about money that weren’t handled the right way, making kids feel like the most important thing in the world is to have money. 

AB: So, Soha, talk to me about what you think about the gender gap in financial literacy. What can we do about that? How can we prevent that going forward? 

SG: Look, there’s definitely a gender gap in financial literacy. There’s a gender gap in women in finance versus men. There’s a gender gap between women who graduate from girls’ school and boys who graduate from boys’ school. And this is a struggle we have to tackle. And the only way you tackle it is, first: girls’ education and making sure that girls stay in school and making sure that all girls are getting educated and making sure girls have access to scholarships and to be able to go to better places to be educated. So, this is very important, and I think women like us have a role to be mentors to girls. I think if you’re going to give some of your time away to help with a local charity or whatever, just help mentor girls, mentor them about day-to-day life problems that they’re going to face, problems they’re going to face at work, problems they’re going to face to buy their first home if they want to. And I think we have to teach girls that you need to be financially independent. And I think this is something my parents might not have taught me anything about financial literacy as I was growing up, like I told you. The one thing my father told me is that financial independence is something that you need to have because if anyone gives you money, it will never feel the same as making your own money. And I think this is a very basic lesson to teach kids at home first. Look, I can give you five pounds to buy some candy and to go have a meal and to have ice cream and to do that. But if you do a chore and make five pounds, or if you go work in the local store and make five pounds, it’s going to feel very different. And when you earn, that’s going to give you a certain power that helps you face a lot of the things you have to face in life. So, I think this is very important, teaching girls that whether they come from an affluent family and their parents are going to leave them lots of money, whether they get married into a very rich family, all these things don’t matter. They, as human beings, need to be financially independent on their own, aside from all this environment around them. This idea that someone needs to take care of them or give them, it’s like a bonus. It’s an addition but you need to be your own person like everybody else. I think this is very important. Everything starts with education. So, girls have not had the same opportunities in education as men, but they’re getting more. And if more women get involved in that, then they’ll help more girls. So, I think this is another way we can help. And then obviously the third way is to have role models and mentors that are women, because, like in our generation, a lot of our mentors and role models were men. A lot of the heroes in the books and the stories were men. They were not women.

AB: Yeah. That is very true. And do you think there are any particular skills or knowledge areas that are overlooked for women regarding financial success? 

SG: Well, I think for women in general, it starts with school. They always assume boys will do better in maths and science than girls. Right? Well, maths is very important for financial success and financial literacy. And so, a lot of schools even today will always say, yes, it’s the same for boys and girls, but it’s not. Since I have been involved in helping schools, I can see that this is a common theme and it’s not a common theme in India or the Middle East. This is a common theme in Western countries, right? 

AB: Everywhere.

SG: But you can imagine how much worse it is in a little town or a little village in Egypt or in India. It must be hundreds of times worse. If in central London and New York, people say, well, boys do better with maths, you need to break these misconceptions. God didn’t create men smarter or women dumber or women smarter. People have individual IQs that have nothing to do with gender. Exposure is very important. And then all I’m saying is boys from a young age, people talk to them about things. If they’ve got a father who’s a banker or like when you come from a family where it’s an industrial family, there’s a family business. Even if there are three kids, they naturally look to the boy first as being able to take over the family business, right? It’s the same way even with royalty, they look to the heir of the throne as being a male figure first, then a female figure. Almost all the female figures are always the replacement. So, that’s the same way with finance. It’s no different. I just think it’s all about dialogue, about education, and also about women creating networks to help other women. I think there’s more now, but generally, men have always had boys’ clubs and networks to help other men much more than we did, right? 

AB: No, you’re absolutely right. The number of women who freak out when they see a P&L [Profit and Loss statement], I mean, they completely get cold sweats. Why is that? 

SG: Look, I’m going to tell you, from having worked all of my life, except for very short intervals when I didn’t work, even with interviews and everything, men and women are very different about these things. Men are taught to have enough confidence to bluff through a lot of things. Women believe they must know everything in order to speak about it, otherwise, they’re scared, especially in a professional context. So, financial literacy, a lot of women, adult women, no young kids, say, ‘I don’t know anything about that. My husband manages the finances.’ And that’s why I’m saying: teach a girl from a young age, you need to be financially independent. Financial literacy is a way to protect themselves, right? It’s a way to take care of them. It’s a way for them to have choices, right? And so, it’s really important because later the conversation will develop into, do you want to take a loan? Do you want to have a mortgage? Do you want to be able to leave your job? And to be able to leave your job, you need to have maybe six months or a year’s worth of money to keep you going so you can leave your job and have money that can take care of you at this time. So, I go back to the beginning. What I told you is the difference between want and need, the difference between wealth and independence and then the stages of your life. How to broach different material for the stages of your life. So, from a toddler to a preteen to a teen to a young adult.

AB: Soha, something struck me. You said the difference between want and need. How do we teach the next generation about sustainable finance and socially responsible investing? Because socially responsible investing today is a need. It’s important. It’s absolutely important. 

SG: It has to start with telling kids all of these byproducts. We’re such a spoiled society. What have we done with the environment? All these extra things that we don’t need. Like I remember in my grandmother’s home, water was always in glass bottles and then we got into this whole plastic, disposable, carrying around everything, which is horrible because we can only do very little. Plastic is destroying our planet. It’s also the worst thing for our health. Anshu all of these portable, disposable meal containers, plastic bottles which are used to carry water. This water is completely bad because it’s plastic sitting in the heat in all of these transportation modes. So, I think tying in sustainability through health and through what we actually need…what do our bodies actually need? We’re eating all of the stuff that we don’t need at all that’s contributing only disease to our body. And I think that’s where you bring the link in for the kids. Invest in things or invest in companies that do good. 

AB: Sometimes what happens is, and I see this argument all the time because the financially responsible investment choices are not giving you the returns today but then you’re investing in the future. 

SG: I think you have to teach your kids that life is a holistic approach. That’s what I think. I think that you have to teach your kids that everything is interconnected and because something is not producing anything bad for you right now or because something is giving you money right now but it’s actually from a very bad source like selling arms or dealing drugs probably makes more money than a lot of other things. But you have to teach your kids that just because of this immediate satisfaction concept… Again, it ties to wanting to be rich. The reason people get into all of these things about returns is because everyone thinks that the aim is to be rich. The aim is not to be financially independent. The aim is not to give back to society. If we change that dialogue that the wealthier you are and the more affluent you are, you have a social responsibility, and that social responsibility is a holistic approach to what you invest, what you eat, what you spend your money on, and what you give charity to. Then it makes sense because it’s almost like a connected circle. 

AB: Very well said. Soha, I know you do a lot of work with children, and with schools. So, can you give us a success story or a case study of a child you’ve come across, where, thanks to early financial education and the right kind of financial education, they demonstrated significant financial success later in life? 

SG: So, there is a child, we were supporting their tuition at school and that child was obviously a very bright child from very modest means. So, when she turned about 13-14, she started going to school during the day and having almost a full-time job in the evenings. She managed to study and work and do all of that before she even got to college. Once she got to college, we were mentoring that child a lot about what she wanted to do, how she wanted to achieve it, all of that. She wanted to go and study in the United States. So, getting her through school here in the UK, she did extremely well and she managed to get a full scholarship in the US, a ‘Need-blind’ scholarship. She is living in Spain now and she is getting ready to pursue a higher degree. She’s doing extremely well. She works for a Spanish marketing company. And I think, it’s a combination of this child understanding the importance of money, obviously, because she came from limited means. And what I’m trying to point out here, Anshu, is that it’s a lot harder to achieve that with kids who come from affluent backgrounds. This child came from a background where she could see how hard her parents were working and they couldn’t get her in to a good school because the parent’s combined income was less than 30,000 pounds a year. So, she could not go to a private school in the UK without income. And she had siblings. In a way, her circumstances could have contributed to her becoming this really angry child who’s out and partying, or she could become this very focused child. Now, her being good at school helped her get this bursary from us, but also us mentoring her and her being in the right environment at school pushed her for excellence. And that push for your academic ability shows that you’re going to be respected if you have academics, you’re going to have choices. And I think this is the underlying thing you have to explain to kids— that financial independence is a tool that affords you choices and you have those choices in life if you don’t use this tool the right way.

AB: Now, Soha, at the end of the conversation, we summarise it with a rapid-fire round. Very quick questions. What is the best age to start preparing kids for financial success?

SG: I think about eight to ten years old. 

AB: Thank you. Could you share one important strategy for teaching budgeting and financial management to a child? 

SG: It depends on their age, but I definitely think the idea of you giving them a certain amount of money through either work or chores. And then, them splitting this money into pots, as I said, is a very preliminary tool that you can then sophisticate and build on as you’re older. 

AB: What is a common pitfall to avoid when introducing children to financial literacy? 

SG: It’s not wealth that’s important, it’s how you use your wealth. 

AB: Thank you, Soha, that was an incredible conversation. Thank you so much for your time. 

SG: Thank you for inviting me. 

AB: Thank you for being here with us today and for listening to this podcast. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something new. And I hope we brought you a little closer to leading a healthier, happier, more hopeful life. If you enjoyed this, please subscribe to this channel. Subscribe to the podcast on Wellness Curated and subscribe to my YouTube— Wellness Curated by Anshu Bahanda. This will ensure that we can get you more and more speakers and continue to provide you this service for free. And I would love to hear from you. So please send me an email to Anshu@WellnessCurated.life with any ideas, questions, topics, or suggestions. Thank you again for being here with us and see you next week.