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BACK TO REALITY - A Note about Financial Training for Children

An article by Gregory Bunyard the Founder and co-author of the ‘Ka-Ching! Business Parenting Course'

Dear concerned parent

You don't just wake up one day and your flabby gut has disappeared and you are suddenly a champion batsman. I wish! I won't tell you what it takes to become a legendary batsman who can hit a cover-drive, on the up, off a ball traveling at over 150km/h between two agile fielders to the cover boundary for four. I do that very well in my dreams. Herschelle Gibbs does that better than anyone in world cricket. I suspect Gibbs will tell you (after a couple of clever chirps) that it takes skill and plenty of practice. The same will be true of teaching children 'financial fitness'. Without starting young, guidance and plenty of practice, they are just not going to wake up one day and everything is financially 'hunky dory'.

So here's the reality, if you think your child is being taught (at school) the basics of getting ahead financially, then seriously you need to 'catch a wake up'. They are not! There is not a big enough difference between what you and I learned about finances and running a business and what our youngsters are learning today at school. So how do you expect them to get these vital skills?

We are happy doing the same old thing the same old way. It takes certain stories that emerge, mostly out of the media that shocks us back to reality. Crime and Education are prime examples of this. A story breaks in the media, and suddenly we wake up out of our subconscious haze and we 'catch a wake-up'. We have all heard about the problem of crime, I am sure it lurks somewhere in our subconscious, but it takes a shocking story to bring us back to reality. We get angry and then it subsides until the next story. The same is true of education. We hear more and more stories about the challenges teachers constantly face in our classrooms. These stories worry us for a period of time and then they go away. We might think, "I'm sure my child will be ok, when they leave school and they wont be like me when I left school."

Just between you and I, I was completely clueless about handling money; I was completely broke for the first 3 years of working and I wasn't alone. Like me the majority of young adults entering the job market will not have the basic financial knowledge let alone the understanding of how to start and run a business and to invest wisely.

A survey published by VISA in the United States reveals the following and I guarantee the statistics will be very similar for countries around the world:

  • 85% totally agree that 'young adults today lack the basic skills to successfully manage their finances'.
  • 91% believe young people learn the most about finances from 'the school of hard knocks'.
  • Only 2% of young adults are 'well prepared' to manage their personal financial responsibilities.
  • 99% totally agree that 'it's important to teach high school students good money management skills before they leave home'.

I am not trying to tell you how to run your life, I am in no way qualified to do that, and I am still trying to run my own life. So please don't even think that's what this is about. I am genuinely concerned. I want to shock you back to reality so that maybe you take some action. If you don't, nothing will have changed for your child. The reality is this; your child will face some tough decisions at the age of about 19, "Do I get a job or more realistically; I can't find a job and so how am I going to 'get the money'!"

At 19 we say, "I want everything, I deserve everything because I am the champion, and the King of the world; I will be a millionaire by 28 and retire. What's all the fuss about?"

The reality is this, based on the statistics; your little loved one will not have a clue about, basic financial awareness, running a business or what to do with money if they are lucky enough to have it! You might well be the exception to the rule, but if your child is anything like I was after going to a great school and university and still not knowing these very important basics, then I hope you and I are in agreement? We are not taught these vital skills at school, Technikon or University.

What we are talking about is not complicated theory or anything like that please, we leave that to University's to complicate things, when in fact what we are talking about should be quite simple - I mean 'getting ahead' that is. My question is then, "Why are so many young people so clueless? Why do we have these statistics?" Oh boy, does this puzzle me or what?

In my opinion the answer is very easy, children are just not being taught the basics at the right age. It's that simple. Why not? Because they just aren't ok! No seriously they really are not being taught these concepts at school. Really! I know they are not. And I'm sorry; school market days and EMS do not qualify! They help, yes! But back in the 'Rinderpest' (An epidemic in the 1890s killed 80 to 90 percent of all cattle in Southern Africa - Wikipedia) school 'Market Days' didn't help my sister or me.

I'm not mocking market days or the huge amount of good work that EMS teachers are doing under very difficult conditions; and the wonderful work that many corporations are doing promoting financial awareness, investing, entrepreneurship and life-skills. No. On the contrary, there are many passionate people and corporations that are doing sterling work, but it is not enough. We can do with all the help we can get. Please believe me this is not a small problem. This is a big problem that needs a big solution.

What we need is a new solution. 'Out-the-box thinking'. Yes! May I suggest a new approach, a new partnership? We need the help of parents! Yes parents! This is the way to go. If parents are given the tools to help their children understand these vital skills, what possible better teacher could there be? There is no better teacher. With the right understanding and tools to empower parents to help their own children will help towards addressing this challenge.

Just imagine for a second; that perhaps this journey of helping our youth to a path of self-sufficiency and financial freedom could be fun and rewarding; that parents become 'partners' not teachers and that parents communicate on a deeper and a more adult level; that it will not require finding anymore time out of impossibly busy daily schedules. Just imagine how rewarding it will be for parents knowing that children will be equipped to face the harsh realities of life after school. If parents don't help, then who will?

About the author:

Gregory Bunyard is the Founder and co-author of the ‘Ka-Ching! Business Parenting Course’ that aims at providing the necessary guidance to help parents teach their own children the vital financial awareness, investing, entrepreneurship and life-skills so desperately needed when facing the harsh realities of adult life. Find out more on

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