Interview with Rodica Cearca, educational manager of Prospera Academy for children and adolescents, conducted during 2021 International Financial Education Week at Microinvest.

We know you from the Business School and other financial-related activities organized by Prospera Academy. In addition, we also managed to get acquainted with the students of your institution during their excursion at a secondary office Microinvest. Tell us a bit about the activity and mission of the Prospera educational center.

I will start with our slogan: “We grow up happy adults”, it fully renders the mission of Prospera Academy. We are a non-formal educational institution, which organizes various courses for children and young people from 4 up to 18 years. We set out to develop skills for young children that they certainly won’t learn in school – entrepreneurial thinking and financial literacy. One of the first projects of Prospera Academy is the Business School, where children have the opportunity to develop their management, collaboration, and socialization skills, but also to receive an age-appropriate financial education.

What does financial education mean, and what role does it play in our life?

In the modern world, financial education is gaining momentum both among adults and among children, and adolescents. It requires not only knowledge of money, its value, and ways of obtaining it, but also effective management. If we manage to establish a balance in the financial aspect of life, we will be able to maintain this balance in the other important personal aspects.

We must admit that today children are much more developed and mature for their age. How important is it to form their understanding of finances from an early age, and at what age should we start talking to them about money and its proper management?

Children involved in the management of family expenses, grow up adults who are cautious about everything they procure, focus first on needs and then on desires, are attentive and responsible when they want to take a loan from the bank or a non-bank lending institution, are much more continent and frugal. It is wrong to tell children that money is not important or that money is not for children (stereotypes of our society), because they will grow up and become adults with these wrong perceptions. On the contrary, from an early age, we must convey to them that money is an important source for everyone, so we must manage it correctly.

I think that not all children fully understand the value of money. How can we explain to the little ones that behind a banknote there are hours of work?

A child who is explained from an early age that money does not fall from a tree and that it is necessary to work to have it will appreciate the value of money differently. How to explain it? Simple, from the first visits to the store, buying childrens’ favorite toys and sweets. That doesn’t mean we have to deprive them of all that shopping, just make them understand whether they need it or not.

A typical situation in supermarket queues is when some children get naughty and insist that their parents buy them sweets or other “unnecessary” things from the shelves near the checkouts. How to proceed in such cases?

All children’s manifestations, both positive and negative, are emotions that were not paid attention to at the right time. As I said, discussions about shopping should be started at home. Parents can make a list of all the necessary purchases, in which they also include “goodies” intended for the little ones. Or when the child is a little older, he can be allocated a symbolic amount, which he will be able to spend as he wants. If these rules become part of the family norm, then there will be no more situations where the child will misbehave in the store.

About the pocket money. Since our childhood, the piggy bank or jar with a lid was one of the customs to collect money in any family. How can we teach the little ones to collect and manage their pocket money correctly?

I still encourage this tradition today, which is a good example of financial education. When children have their financial savings from an early age, whether it is the pocket money they receive from their parents or donations and gifts from relatives and grandparents, this gives them confidence in their own strengths and responsibility. In addition, pocket money is a good exercise for managing financial sources, even if we are talking about small amounts. Over time, you will notice that children will become much more independent, calculate their expenses and even learn to collect money for more expensive purchases, whether phone or console.

We want to end this interview on an equally useful note. Therefore, please share with us some practical tips for parents who are just starting the financial education of their little ones?

The golden secret is communication. Parents should not be afraid to talk with their children about expenses and even directly involve them in the planning of the family budget. Sometimes children understand more than we imagine, and it is up to us to provide them with accessible and accurate explanations. Telling children about monthly expenses, salary, taxes, commissions, and even monthly payments for loans, they will be aware that money is not an inexhaustible resource. Financial education begins in the family, but it must be continued at school and during other extracurricular activities. I very much appreciate that Microinvest is involved in the financial education of the young generation, who will later become informed and responsible adults.

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