Advice Column, Money, Parenting, Sanlam

MONEY LESSONS FOR LITTLE ONES FROM HOUSE KOLISI

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  • Category Advice Column, Money, Parenting, Sanlam

7 year-old Nic Kolisi is saving for a car. Not just a remote control one; a real car as well! Although, having done the maths with mom, Rachel Kolisi, on how long he’ll need to save for him to reach his R100 000 target, he’s now having a slight crisis in confidence and focusing on the remote control one instead. The Kolisi family has been using the Sanlam Savings Jar app to get the kids to set goals and save for these. Rachel Kolisi says it’s never too soon for little people to learn these lessons.

There’s a rule in House Kolisi. If you don’t work, you don’t earn. Kolisi says she knows that life is crazy, but it’s critical to schedule time to talk money with children. “Time is going and kids keep growing; the sooner they’re conscious of finances and spending, the better! Even if you just spend an hour a week talking about what they’re saving for and how, it makes a difference. I’ve found the Sanlam Savings Jar app really incredible for this. It helps parents have these conversations and it’s so interactive and fun for the kids as well.”

Money talk is tough in our times

Kolisi says that teaching kids about finances is a different ballgame today. “We used to get pocket money in our hands. Now, it gets deposited into a bank and you’re working with EFTs and cards… it’s much tougher to teach children the value of money. I’d get R5 a week, which used to be enough to buy a Chelsea bun back in the day. These days, it’s totally different. Which is why I think talking about money is more important than ever. It’s scary to see how few children – even adults – have any kind of financial savvy.

Talking about money as a family 

Kolisi says that the family talks about money and sets shared financial goals often, “We’re underway with a big move and there’s a lot of financial change in that. So, we’ve had to sit down and have a conversation about what the next couple of year’s looks like. We’re in our thirties, but we’re responsible for four children. One of our kids is changing schools and our older one is going into a hostel, which is another expense. So, every year we look at our income and expenses to make sure we’re always on track.

“Siya and I both grew up in financially-strapped homes and we never wanted finances to be an issue. I do believe that finances can be a breaking point for a lot of relationships and it’s scary to me that money can have such a toll on people. I think, often, it’s just a lack of knowledge, which really comes back to the fact that if you do have financial knowledge, it’s important to share it and pass it on to your kids. There’s a lot on the line for us and Siya’s career is short as well. So, that’s also something we take into consideration on a yearly basis.”

Practical ways to teach children finance lessons

Kolisi takes the children grocery shopping and they compare the prices and look for the cheapest brands and deals. “We compare the weight of the products and the value we’ll get from buying them. The kids help me a lot with the groceries, and I try and let them be independent with the choices they make. I like to focus on things they eat daily, so they understand the value of the money that’s spent on these products.

She says the Sanlam Savings Jar app has been a great way to start conversations and build excitement around saving. “As soon as we downloaded the app, Nic pulled out every money box he’s ever had, and we were counting all the 10c and 5c to put towards his goal. We managed to grow his dragon to adult size for his remote-control car (the more coins saved, the bigger the dragon grows).

“Then we also set a goal to help someone else, which I think brings another important conversation up about how you can have goals for yourself, but how are you thinking about others? So many important conversations came from the app; I think the fact that it brings about a discussion between a child and parent is the most important thing.”

Work to earn

Kolisi says, “We have the non-negotiable daily chores like doing dishes, making the bed, etc. Then we have what we call the ‘extras’. The older kids know that when they want money to go out or whatever, they’ll tell us how much they need and then we give them the list of extra chores to earn the money. Nic has done a good car clean! We have a running list of things like picking up the dog poop, sorting the Tupperware in the cupboards, cleaning the bathrooms…

“I believe the reason I work as hard as I do is because it’s stuck in my mind you cannot earn money without working. And I think the sooner a child understands that the better. Anything can change at any moment, but you can always manage because financial knowledge can never be taken away.”

Realness and reward

It’s also important to make money talk fun. “It can be super daunting, especially for teenagers, when you start talking about how much their education is going to cost. Then if they get a job, how much rent will cost, plus petrol, food, and all of these things. So, I think it’s important to use things like the Sanlam Savings Jar app to open up these difficult conversations in a fun way.”

Lastly, it’s important that the conversations are continuous. “Kezzie doesn’t really care about goals yet. Nic is just starting to. Then you have my teenagers who want to go to parties and buy their friends gifts. Then it’s about going into adulthood and starting university and first jobs. Each phase of life needs a different conversation, so we can really equip our kids.”

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