Mara Harvey

Author Archives: Mara Harvey

Sustainability For Kids: How To Save Our Land

Illustration of Marty with Edmund feeding squirrels- A Smart Way To Start

I’ve been talking a lot about sustainability in my past couple of blogs, in relation to book 4, A Smart Choice To Make. With that in mind, let’s discuss the ways in which you can teach kids about sustainability, so they can grow up with an eco-conscious mindset that will affect all their future choices. After all, we have to make sure that we can make sustainability for kids accessible.

Start ​Early on Educating Kids About Sustainability

This is something that should not be an afterthought in your children’s education. It’s something that they should experience in every day decisions.

Similar to money attitudes, if we only tackle sustainability with our kids when they are in their teens, then we have missed a decade of opportunity. Our mindset should be prevention over cure. It’s easier to build good habits from childhood than to correct them or re-direct them when our kids are older.

Like with money and saving, long term impact matters in your daily actions and practices. Imagine if you used a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing 1 litre of water in a single-use plastic bottle every day. That’s at least 30 bottles that don’t end up in landfills every month. Especially in countries where they don’t get recycled.

Imagine how much less plastic production and pollution that will be in a year...2 years...10 years even!

Try explaining to little children the repercussions of responsible versus irresponsible consumption practices. Every time we forget to care for the environment, the planet that suffers and that as individuals, the little things that we all do will matter a lot!

Be Practical: Show Your Kids How To Save The Planet!

To start, let’s look at ways to be kind to the planet by taking better care of the land. These practices are easy to teach to your kids and can turn into precious family moments!

RECYCLE: Segregate your trash

Segregating your trash means that less waste go to the landfill. Food waste that can be compostable can end up nourishing someone’s garden. Waste that can be reused and recycled can be given another life. At the same time, it keeps your immediate environment healthy and clean by reducing trash and health hazards.

Bonus points: you can also use trash segregation as an additional chore for your kids. You can also opt to attach extra allowance money in this to give them some encouragement to segregate the trash properly.

​REUSE: Use reusable water bottles

​The example we mentioned above is really important!  According to National Geographic, 91% of plastic is not recycled. Imagine how much plastic is simply left to the landfills. Show them how much less is used if the whole family always bring their own reusable water bottles to save on waste.

​REDUCE: Support local farmers and lessen meat consumption

Many of you might raise an eyebrow on this. I’m not trying to dictate a specific lifestyle or diet. But it is scientifically proven that the meat and dairy industry is one of the largest drivers of pollution on the planet. Simply reducing the amount of meat you consume will help reduce your carbon footprint. 

In addition, supporting local farmers also means less carbon footprint for your food, as it won’t need to travel far in order to reach your tables! Show children on a map how far their food has traveled. You can turn this into a family moment with the kids. Then show them how much less food travels if you go together to the local market: let them help them pick which vegetables cook for dinner and involve them in preparing it!

​RETHINK: Be more critical of industries that degrade the environment

A good example of this would be the palm oil industry. A lot of products contain or make use of palm oil as it’s very cheap and easy to produce. The production of palm oil has caused deforestation in many of the world’s biodiverse areas like Malaysia and Indonesia. This, in turn, further damages the habitats of already endangered animals like the orangutan, the pygmy elephant, and the Sumatran rhino. 

To help mitigate the effects of palm oil farming and production, the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO was established. Make sure that the palm oil you purchase is RSPO certified to make sure that the product you buy does not directly contribute to irresponsible production.

It might be hard to explain all of this to very small children, but you can involve them into this practice by gamifying it when you’re in a supermarket run. When you’re about to purchase anything containing palm oil, make sure to ask for their help in looking for the RSPO logo. If you like, you can give them a little treat or prize for spotting it!

​​DONATE to your favourite charity or nonprofit

A good way to show your support for the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of  land is to donate to charities or nonprofit organizations that are doing the groundwork, and have a proven impact track record.

For example, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) help prevent biodiversity loss through various efforts like helping create sustainable food production, helping tackle the climate crisis, and helping in the preservation and protection of animal species.

To turn it into a family moment, show your kids some of the world's endangered animals and explain to them that without these organizations, some of these animals may die out. Then you both can pick organizations to support to and donate to - even just a little amount of the child’s savings can have a positive impact and can be the start of a good money practice. The WWF makes supporting more inclusive with the donor because you “adopt” an animal. When you choose to adopt an animal, the money you donate will go towards conservation funds for that species. It’s something the kids will definitely like!

The Little Things Matter: Teach Sustainability In The Everyday

Dear parents, remember that we don’t have to be perfectionists nor spend hundreds or thousands to make a difference. Just the fact that we all take small concrete steps to become more conscious about our choices and purchases already matters. We are our kids first teachers and role models and there’s no better way to live up to those two important jobs than by showing them good practices.

Bear in mind that money is also a transmission of values: where you choose to spend your money supports and perpetuates the business practices of that company. The fact that you’re choosing less harmful products or visiting your farmer’s market more often, already shows your commitment towards protecting our planet.

Keep going, and keep being open with your kids when they ask questions about the choices you make. It may get frustrating or tiring because little kids ask a lot of questions. But do take time to patiently explain the reasoning behind your choices and your actions! Cumulatively, you’ll be having huge impact every day!

If you’re interested in reading more about money tips and sustainability tips, especially for the kids, then I highly encourage you to subscribe to my Monthly Money Tips newsletter.

Marty’s World: Ocean Friends

​​Marty's ​Summer World : Meet ​the Ocean Friends

Edmund’s most favourite time of the year 

Is when the school ends and summer draws near.

Two weeks of holidays, starting today!!

He’s off to the coast! Hip, hip...hurray!

Down at the seaside, exploring the beach,

And diving to see just how deep can he reach!

These are the things that he finds most fun...

Spending a long summer day in the sun! 

Edmund‘s equipped with his bucket and spade.

No time to lie on a towel in the shade!

He’s off to explore the shore by the docks

To see what the tide has washed onto the rocks.

Marty is wondering what he will find

Inside the rock pools that form at low tide.

His usual assortment of sea snails and crabs? 

This time, who knows which creatures he’ll grab!

Limpets, anemones, shells and seaweed,

Exploring the shoreline is amusing indeed. 

He treads very cautiously, trying not to trip.

The seaweed is wet and it’s easy to slip.

Edmund is patiently seeking to find

Little live animals of every kind:

Hermit crabs, shrimp, starfish and snails

all of these creatures end up in his pail. 

Each little being is captured with care

And placed in his bucket so he can compare:

observing their size and how they each move,

then putting them back, so his parents approve. 

The only thing that he’s reluctant to catch

Are urchins, because they will sting if you touch. 

It’s pretty to watch how their long prickles sway,

But Edmund is cautious to stay well away. 

One day, he wants to go far out to sea,

Diving the deep, as far down as can be!

And when he is there, he’ll play Marty’s game,

Giving each creature its very own name!

A large octopus would certainly be

The very first creatures that he’d like to see.

Eight clingy arms with small suction cups,

Perfect for snatching the fish he eats up!

Shape shifting body, chameleon skin,

He’d be hard to spot when he tries to blend in! 

Edmund has read how smart octopi are:

One of the cleverest creatures by far!

Seahorses, too, he really must see.

He’s curious to learn how these creatures can flee.

With a long curly tail and short dorsal fin,

How fast can these delicate animals swim? 

If fish come along and try to attack,

How does a seahorse escape or fight back? 

This is a thing that he can’t figure out.

They surely can’t bite with their delicate snout! 

Seeing a crab is high up on his list;

One with huge pincers, as large as a fist!

He’d like to observe how they snatch up their prey 

And scuttle off sideways when they run away.

He read that crabs’ claws are terribly strong,

But can be defensless when squid come along:

Squid can attack them by grabbing their back,

And the poor little crab cannot reach to pinch back. 

Next on his list are dolphins, for sure. 

He loves how they play, when they leap and they soar!

Over the waves, jumping so high,

Enjoying the sea and enjoying the sky! 

A dolphin has curiously soft shiny skin

An elegant tail and a beautiful fin.

Small pointy teeth and long bottle-nose, 

It looks like it’s smiling wherever it goes!

Edmund is happy to be by the sea.

The hours fly by and it’s soon time for tea.

He gathers his bucket and picks up his spade

Admiring the little sand castle they made.

As he departs, he stops to make sure

They’ve done all they could to clean up the shore!

Together with Marty, he’s mindful to bring

All rubbish and plastic to a recycling bin.

It’s really important to clear up the sand

so no waste remains, polluting the land.

Rubbish on beaches ends up in the sea

And makes the poor creatures as sick as can be! 

Edmund is keen to protect marine life, 

so oceans are clean and the fish can all thrive!

August 4, 2020

17 Sustainable Development Goals


For this post, I will be ​discussing a topic that goes beyond financial parenting, but which is so significant today that it impacts in many ways our efforts to educate children on money. I’d like to acquaint you, or for those who already know these...reacquaint you, with an important aspect of sustainability: the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Many people have heard about the goals and some might be quite familiar with them. Few, however, know them by heart. What are the 17 SDGs and why is it important to know them in detail? Their significance for the future of our planet and of humankind is tremendous. These SDGs were crafted to help preserve and conserve the planet for generations to come. So, in the end, it will be our children and our children’s children who will benefit from this. If we fail to achieve them, our very way of life is at threat. This is why I warmly encourage you to include the SDGs in your financial parenting and your child’s education. 

The summary below gives you a short overview and we encourage you to learn more, read more, and ultimately share these Goals with your kids so that they grow up sustainably minded. We have even published a poem on the SDGs, so kids can learn them by heart, like the alphabet. It’s easy and it’s fun:

Our big news? In September we are launching book 5 of the Smart Way To Start series, and will be all about the 17 SDGs.

What are the SDGs?

The SDGs are short for the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a 17 part blueprint adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015 as part of The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs divide global issues into 17 different goals that allow tackling one specific aspect of sustainability.

Here’s a list of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and a quick explanation of what each Goal aims to accomplish.

  1. No Poverty - End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. Zero Hunger - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Good Health and Well-Being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Quality Education - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Gender Equality - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.
  10. Reduced Inequalities - Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Life Below Water - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Life on Land - Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Partnerships for The Goals - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

*The descriptions of each SDG were taken directly from the UN’s page on Sustainable Development Goals:

Why Should We Care About The 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

Well, it’s simple. 

As humans living on this planet, we have a duty to take care of it. As humans co-living with other humans, we have a duty to help advance humanity as a whole. Humanity cannot advance as long as there are people left behind. We all have to work towards these goals, together.

As parents, we have to do our part in making sure that the planet our kids grow up into will continue to remain a beautiful one for many many years to come! Through the framework provided by SDGs, we are guided on how we can all continue -- in big or small ways -- to contribute to better ​the planet ​and humanity. As parents, it’s also our job to impart these Goals to our children so they can grow up to be planet-caring and sustainably-minded adults.

How Should You Start and What Do You Do After?

Well, the fact that you’ve read this far means you’ve already started! Arming yourself with the right knowledge is always a good start. Awareness is the first step. Talking about is the next one. And then find ways to put the learnings into action. 

Here are some small tips on what to do :

  1. Sharing your newfound knowledge

Become an advocate for the SDGs, with your children, your families and your friends.  Keep on learning and keep on reading and then share what you know with the people around you. Start with the adults first, as it is very engaging to have discussions and discourses with people who are equally passionate about our planet. I’ll discuss to you how you can teach the SDGs and Sustainability to kids further below.

  1. Practising what you learned 

You don’t have to go into extremes like opening your own nonprofit or donating huge sums of money to NGOs. Not everyone has the resources to do so. You can start small -- the sum of many little gestures can have a huge impact. For example, segregating your trash at home, choosing to patronise brands that support sustainable manufacturing processes, or choosing to support local produce thereby lessening the carbon footprint of your products. It can even be something as small as changing your search browser to ​Ecosia to help reforestation or donating a small amount of money to your favourite charity or organization. 

  1. Teaching the young

There’s no better way to practice sustainability than by teaching good practices to the young. After all, sustainability is also about being able to future proof the planet. What better way to do so than by teaching the next generation the best way to care for it?

The fourth book of my A Smart Way series called  A Smart Choice To Make. ​It’s all in rhymes, with wonderful illustrations that outline how nature is currently endangered by some companies’ bad practices. It’s important that children learn how every single money choice they make, whenever they buy something, can impact this world. And if we purchase mindfully, we can have a strong positive impact on the world! 

As mentioned above, I am also working on releasing book 5, that specifically discusses the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and breaks it down for kids in an easy-to-read language. In the meanwhile, we hope you enjoy our poem and taking your first steps in learning more about the SDGs.

If you’d like to know when the book would be released, I highly recommend that you subscribe to my Monthly Money Tips newsletter so that you can be updated with that’s going on in Marty’s World!

Teaching Kids Money: The Right Way

Two Girls Doing Schoolwork - A Smart Way To Start by Mara Catherine Harvey

I came across a recently published article by the Bank of England on how to teach kids financial education.

If you’d like to read the article, you can  click here.

Here are some important points that the article discusses:

  • According to research done, only about a quarter (27%) of kids in the UK enjoy learning about money at school.
  • Three things that kids said would make learning about money fun are jokes and funny stuff, games, and using “real” money in “real” situations.
  • Girls were less likely (19%)  to enjoy learning about money than boys (34%.)

So here are my opinions on this.

We should not relegate ​financial education to the schools -- it should start with us parents, and at home.

I applaud that schools are trying to include money and financial responsibility in their curriculum. It’s definitely an important topic to talk about, and it needs to be a conversation that spans the entire educational curriculum. However, we cannot expect that the full burden of educating our kids about money falls to them.

As we all know, a child’s first school is the home and the parents are the first teachers. We need to be proactive in educating our kids about proper money habits because these habits are largely set before children even start school. You don’t have to sit your kids down and give them a lecture on it. You can educate them by just continuing to do what you do: when you shop, when you make spending or saving choices, or when you go to the bank. The key is to make these actions visible and engage the children in money moments, carefully explaining to them why you do such things. To teach kids about financial education is also about making sure that money moments are visible.

If you’d like to learn how to start teaching your kids about money at home,  check my blog post here.

Jokes about money are not appropriate. Games that include instances where fake money is easy to accumulate do not teach kids the most valuable money skills.

To teach kids about financial education, I understand that we have to make learning about money more engaging for kids. Because if kids are bored or if they don’t enjoy things, they will never make an effort to understand what we are teaching them. However, I don’t agree with the idea that jokes about money would be desirable to help teach kids about it.

Money is a serious matter and if we start to make jokes about it, then its value will not be taken seriously. We have to be aware of the kind of values we impart with our kids when it comes to money. If we want our kids to take money seriously, then we should always take it seriously as well.

There are constructive and fun ways to discuss the importance of money without devaluing it. With that in mind, I also don’t recommend the use of fake money with fake jobs or digital games, because it dampens the idea that money is hard to earn. Kids need to grow up with the idea that earning money takes time and real effort.

I ​believe there are ways to make learning about money fun. You can gamify some of the nonessential household chores if kids want to earn extra money. In addition, you can turn family moments into money moments by asking kids for help in adding up the total, counting change, etc.

Money can be fun, but it’s not a joke.

We need to make an extra effort to encourage girls, in particular, to learn about money. This means that we have to make money something engaging and understandable for them.

We know from abundant research sources that there are too few girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The same buses that make girls shy away from maths are the one that makes them shy away from finance. We need to change their overall mindset about math and money. It needs to be seen as something that girls are good at - and just as good at as the boys! 

Additionally, we need to want to talk about money with kids, and particularly with girls. Kids can get disengaged with money if adults brush them off when they ask about it. Adults sometimes shoo kids away from money and brand it as “adult-stuff”. This, in turn, alienates kids from any money moments and learning opportunities because they are tuned out.

We have to change that mindset.

We have to make topics on money and finances visible and inclusive to kids so that it becomes a part of their upbringing. As parents, we have to be the one to adjust to them and help them understand. We have to be patient as they begin to learn about important things how it fits into the world. We can’t delay the kids’ learning on money just because we think they’re too young for such things. Waiting for them to go to school to learn all about is simply too late.

Remember, the more we delay them learning about financial responsibility, the harder it will be to correct the misconceptions they carry as they grow up. We have to teach kids about financial education as easy as possible. Money habits are largely formed by the age of 7. So imagine how many good habits will be formed if you initiate them on money matters with A Smart Way To Start when they are younger.

Start Early to teach kids about Financial Education with A Smart Way To Start

This is where my books -- the A Smart Way series -- really can make a difference. You see, I wanted to make finances and money conversations inclusive, engaging and fun for all, parents and kids alike. So I turned difficult concepts like money, chores, allowances, savings, spending, and sustainability to simple words and fun rhymes!

I worked with an amazing illustrator, Mariajo, who helped me bring Marty’s money world to life. Her amazing watercolour illustrations helped bring more character, colour, and fun, into the books, too.

Have a sneak peek of the whole series and see how I’ve turned Marty’s world into a relatable, fun, and educational money story for kids!

 I’m giving away a copy of the first book for FREE! My goal is to educate as many little girls and boys on money matters as early as possible! Click here to get the digital copy or click here to sign up and get the physical copy.

And while we educate children about money, we educate  them about equality and sustainability, too. Because for us at Smart Way To Start, money is not just a transmission of value, it’s a transmission of values.

My Innovating Advice: Develop Women’s Financial Confidence

I was fortunate enough be invited as guest speaker on Kate Holmes’ Innovating Advice podcast. I got to talk about my advocacy for women's financial confidence and the risks women face in wealth and finance. 

My advocacy on gender and pay equality came to be when I realised that women face a lot of long term financial risks due to their specific life circumstance. On one of my previous blog posts, I discussed the inherent risks of being a woman and the lack of women's financial confidence.

A simulation of women’s wealth accumulation over a lifetime showed shocking numbers. A pay gap of only 10% ( all else equal) could lead to a wealth gap of approximately 40% between a man and a woman! 

To give you an idea of pay gaps in the EU, here are the numbers:

  • The country with the lowest pay gap as of 2019 is Romania at 3.5%.
  • The country with the highest pay gap as of 2019 is Estonia at 25.6%.
  • The EU average as of 2019 is at 16.0%.    

If you'd like to read more about this. You can access the fact sheet from the European Commission here.

Women ​Sell Themselves Short

Further research shows that 8 out of 10 women believe their financial capabilities and knowledge are lower than their partners'. 6 in 10 women shy away from long term financial responsibility due to lack of financial confidence. In short, Women underestimate themselves and their capabilities.There is a lack of women's financial confidence.

My reaction to his research is simple: unless your partner would have a degree in finance, there is little reason to believe that they are inherently more savvy in long term financial matters. This is a perception gap that we really have to close.

Women are perfectly capable of managing short term financial matters, monthly budgets and household expenses. Trust me when I say this part of finance is far more time and energy consuming than long term financial planning. So if you’re already doing the hard part, why would you not be good enough to do the easy part, too?

To this I would also add a (potentially controversial) comment: if long term financial planning had been a boring chore, I am sure that historically, men would have found reasons to delegate it to the women in the first place. So rest assured that it is the more fun and engaging part of managing money!

Empower Women and Encourage Them To Step Up -- Improve Women's Financial Confidence

If we want to reduce gender inequality, we have to empower fellow women to step up. We have to encourage them to learn and take responsibility when it comes to long term finances. We have to encourage and educate women about how we should perceive our worth, value our time, and plan for our financial futures. ​We need to help develop women's financial confidence so that they can fully take control of their finances and their future. 

The first step I recommend:

IGNORE THE INTIMIDATING FINANCIAL JARGON and the fact that you feel it is too complex to understand. Finance is complex, but the good news is: you don’t need to be an expert to put a robust, long term financial plan in place.

To make an analogy with the medical world: you don’t expect to be knowlegeable yourself in anatomy and medicine before seeking out a cardiologist if you have a heart problem. So why would you expect to have to be knowledgeable in finance before seeing out a trustworthy financial advisory?

All YOU need to focus on is: clarifying your short term, mid term and long term goals. Translating that into a robust financial plan is not so hard once you have found the right advisor. The latter is probably the bigger challenge, especially for many women. How can I find an advisor I can trust, who is not just pushing products at me or charging me for “financial wellness” coaching that I don’t really need to pay for at all? If you’d like to discuss that topic in depth, direct mail me and I’ll be happy to address it in a future newsletter.

Women Are Not "Just A Segment"

Too many banks, financial advisors and event online platforms still tend to treat women simply as a segment to market to.  We women are about 50% of the population and we cannot accept to be an afterthought in their sales processes, designed to meet the needs and expectations of men. We have the right to expect a value proposition that is tailored to our needs: to the language we feel comfortable with, to the level of information we seek, to the life circumstances we face, and to the time management challenges we face juggling families and carreers.

From the start, businesses and sales processes need to be developed with women in mind. Whenever they create something -- product, service, platform, etc. - financial services providers need to become more inclusive and ask "Will this appeal to women as much as it will appeal to men?"

On our side, we women need to learn to be more confident in speaking out our needs and wants. We need to put our foot down and know our worth - and if we don’t feel comfortable talking about finances with an advisor who throws jargon at us, WE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM: it is the advisor who needs to adapt to our needs, and not vice versa. Women are the clients. Women don’t need fixing. The system needs fixing, to fully embrace women’s needs and meet their expectations.

Start Early: Empower Girls...And Boys!

As the saying goes: prevention is better than cure.

With that in mind, I encourage that you start teaching your kids about pay equality and financial confidence. It does not matter if they're a boy or a girl! What's important is that you open up these topics and teach them while they are young.

If they grow up aware and practising equality, then they can also become a positive force of change amongst their friendship circles and later on as professionals. After all, it only takes one to start a movement. If you also couple it with a lot of positive reinforcement and examples, then they're sure to grow up fighting for equality!

Once again, fellow parents, this is why I wrote A Smart Way To Start. I realised that only fighting for gender equality in the professional world is not going to be enough. We need to eliminate biases our children unintentionally grow up with. So I tried to break down all those concepts in a way that's easy to understand and to remember -- through rhymes and illustrations.

I do hope you found this helpful as you journey on through parenthood. If you'd like to learn more and read more tips, please subscribe to my Monthly Money Tips newsletter!

Marty’s World: Meet Albert

Illustration of Albert, the dog - A Smart Way To Start

Albert, the sausage dog,
lives just next door.
He’s old and he sleeps
on a rug on the floor.

His legs are quite short
so he can’t jump up high
and his favourite teddy
is always nearby.

When he sees Marty, he stands up and barks:
he knows she will take him for walks in the park.
Because he’s so short, he gets dirty quite fast,
especially when he runs on the wet grass.

When the ground’s muddy, his fur is a mess!
But taking a bath is the part he likes best.
Marty likes rubbing him with his shampoo,
But when Albert shakes himself, she gets soaked too!

Illustration of Albert, the dog - A Smart Way To Start

Favourite Toys
An old shaggy teddy bear and a chewed tennis ball.

Favourite Quote
Misnaming things adds to the world's woes.

Albert is named after Albert Camus (1913-1960), a French philosopher, author, and journalist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, the second youngest recipient in history.

Teaching Kids About Sustainability | Financial Parenting 101

Illustration of Marty with her mum shopping - A Smart Way To Start

In our busy daily lives, one thing that we don't always spend enough time on is teaching our kids about responsible and conscious living. However, I believe that an important (and often overlooked) aspect of any financial parenting is sustainability. 

Why Teaching Your Kids About Sustainability Is Important

What kind of world do we want to live in? That’s a big question.

Do we want cleaner water and clean air? Do we want children to go to school? Do we want cities with infrastructure that supports the inclusion of all people? These are things we often take for granted living in Switzerland or in Europe. But we should be mindful that this is not a reality for everyone on this planet. And it’s a great question to engage the kids with, in almost any daily circumstance, because it enables them to develop a sustainability mindset.

As I mentioned in a previous article, sustainability is also about longevity. It's about teaching kids how to allocate their resources. It's about showing kids how to protect our planet. It's about raising kids that are conscious and aware of how they can positively (and negatively) affect nature and society.

We can't delay teaching kids these principles when they're older. We have to integrate these kinds of lessons and learning when they are still young, because their money habits are largely set by age 7.

We would love them to all be sustainably aware as they are growing up!

How To Start Teaching Your Kids About Sustainability

1. Start at home.

As always, good practices start at home, where your kids can observe them and experience them everyday. Make sure that you are conscious of the little things. It can be something as simple as recycling.

2. Start small.

It can be something as simple as teaching your kids how to sort the trash or lessening single-use plastics. After all, sustainable eco-practices start with things that we do and encounter everyday!

3. Make your sustainable and eco-conscious decisions visible.

This is like the money tip I've given previously, where I ask you to make your money decisions visible to the kids. You have to give children the chance to see your sustainable decisions in action. You are their role model and this kind of visibility opens up great conversations.

4. Talk to them about your environmentally-conscious decisions.

When you bring along your kids during errand runs, try to explain to the the logic behind certain decisions you've made. For example, try to explain to them that you chose a certain dishwashing liquid brand over another because of its non-harmful components. Or explain that you choose to buy vegetables in the farmer's market because it lessens air pollution if trucks don’t have to transport the foods too far. It's about making sure that your kids know that you are making certain buying decisions. And making sure your kids can grow to understand the reason why you make these important decisions.

5. Never assume your kids are too young to learn!

Sustainability is a big word, which is probably why we try to avoid it when they're young. Don't be daunted! The important thing is that your kids are exposed to these practices. It's important also that they grow into a more sustainable and ecologically-conscious lifestyle. It will then be easier for them to consistently make good choices when they are older.

It's never too early for them to learn things that will help them protect their future.

Sustainability Is Protecting The Planet For The Future

We all love our kids. And by teaching them to make informed choices, we are helping to shape the better future we all wish for. Our kids will be the ones to reap the benefits of our drive to protect the planet. 

So practicing sustainability is about making sure that there are enough resources to go around for generations to come.

It's about making sure that our kids will inherit a world that is equal and just. 

And most importantly, it's about enabling your kids will do the same for theirs! Once we set precedent to our kids about our love for the planet and our will to protect it, they will continue the practice and pass it down to their kids too!

My Webinar With SmartPurse: The Importance of Teaching Kids About Money

Last April 21, I had the pleasure of delivering an online webinar hosted by SmartPurse. I was invited to talk about "How To Teach Your Kids About Money" in their Weekly Money Hour session. In this webinar, I got to talk to fellow parents about about the importance of teaching your kids about money. 

I discussed why it's important to introduce kids to the concept of money and savings as early as possible. 

I've worked in finance long enough to see that we need better ways to talk about money, especially to little girls. To tackle the gender pay gaps we still experience in the professional world, we need to equip young girls with the skills to talk about money with confidence. I realised that if we only talk about earning, equality and knowing your worth to adult women and men, we are tackling the problem 20 years too late! 

How so? 

Here are three important research-based facts:

Why It's Important To Start Teaching Your Kids About Money Early

  • Confidence is shaped by the age of 5.

  • Adult money habits are set by the age of 7.

  • Girls can experience pay gaps of 10-30% by the age of 10.

This is why I push for early financial education with kids, girls and boys alike.

The earlier we discuss money and confidence, the earlier we can help children to understand the notions of time-value and equality, and to adopt good money behaviours. Learning relies a lot on concrete actions and routines, so it's essential to start them early. You can incorporate money conversations and negotiation training in their everyday. Negotiating the value of a chore is an important part of learning to know one's worth and speaking up confidently to claim that worth. You can integrate these lessons on everyday things like allowances and chores.

With your guidance, your kids will be able to grow up responsibly, conscious about value, fairness and equality.

After all, it's easier to raise kids with the right habits. Undoing any bad habits they grew up with is so much harder.

The Earlier We Tackle The Problem, The Earlier We Will Solve It

According to the World Economic Forum, it will take about 257 years before we can reach economic gender parity. We cannot wait another 7 generations to close the gap. 

This is why I created A Smart Way To Start.  I want to encourage parents to teach their kids about money, equality and sustainability. If we start these conversations with kids early on, they will grow up and come into the workforce already well-informed. 

Imagine if we multiply these efforts to thousands or hundreds of thousands of families. We will come to a new generation of workforce that is financially-savvy and equality-minded. 

Imagine how pay and workplace equality will be revolutionised when a generation of well-informed children come of age. Imagine how policies and regulations will change when a generation of values-driven youth enter the workforce.

Financial Responsibility Isn't Only About Money, It's Also About Sustainability

When we teach kids about financial responsibility, we are teaching them how their money impacts our world. How it impacts others (fairness and equality) and how impacts our planet (responsible consumption/production and sustainable choices.

Indeed, money is not only a transmission of value, it's a transmission of values. With issues like global warming, unjust work policies, unsustainable business practices, every money decision counts! Teaching your kids about ethical and eco-friendly options lets them know that they have a choice when spending their pennies. Each product they choose to spend their money on will show that kind of practice and policies they support! When we choose consciously, we can have a huge positive impact!

That's how powerful money is.

Be Good Examples

At the end of the day, despite whatever money and sustainability lessons we try to impart to our kids, they won't believe us if we don't practice what we preach. We have to set good examples to our kids.

Let's be more conscious with our with our purchase choices, especially when we're around our kids. And even with our savings and investments, we can chose to steer our money towards more positive impact. This might still be quite an abstract notion for little kids, but as they grow older they will grasp this notion too. In whichever form we give money to companies, whether buying their products or buying their shares, we are supporting the way they do business. 

If we want to raise our kids to be conscious and discerning adults, it has to start from us.

If you'd like to watch the whole webinar, check the video below:

Marty’s World: Meet Edmund

Illustration of Edmund, Marty's Brother - A Smart Way To Start

My bother is called Edmund.
He’s soon 12 years old.
He enjoys going swimming,
even when it is cold.
He loves going snorkelling
at the seaside,
and plays by the rock pools
when it is low tide.

He wants to protect
all the oceans and seas,
and make sure the water
is all plastic-free.
His dream is to learn
how to dive in the deep,
and see in real life
a pretty “leaf sheep”.
He loves the anemones,
sea snails and slugs,
and he’s equally friendly
to beetles and bugs!

Illustration of Edmund, Marty's Brother - A Smart Way To Start

Favourite Animals
Siamese fighting fish, blue angel sea slugs (glaucus atlanticus) and leaf sheep sea slugs (costasilla kuroshimae).

Favourite Quote
Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.

Edmund is named after Edmund Burke (1723-1792), who was an Irish political philosopher and statesman often regarded as the father of modern conservatism. He wrote about the importance of moral stability and was a proponent of underpinning virtues with manners in society.

How To Teach Your Kids How To Save Money

Illustration of Marty with her savings goal - A Smart Way To Start

One thing that I want to talk about that may seem very obvious is how to teach your kids to save money. I talked about how important it is to teach your kids about money, to give them an allowance, and to open a bank account for them. Now, I want to talk about concrete steps on how to teach and encourage your kids to save money.

The Act Of Saving Is The Backbone Of Any Financial Education

The whole idea of financially educating our kids is to prepare them for the future. Teaching your kids how to (and why they should) save is the most important part of any financial education. 

After all, smart saving is the core idea of financial savviness. We teach our kids to save the right way so that they can have a comfortable future. The idea is that we teach our kids not only how to save money but also why they should save money. 

As parents, it's our responsibility to guide them and help them.  I want to help you do so by giving you some simple, practical guidelines.

4 Easy Tips On How To Teach Your Kids How To Save Money -- The Smart Way

1. Write down your kids' savings goals!

As I have mentioned before, kids learn more easily when things are concrete and not too abstract. This means that they retain things better when they are visible. Writing down their savings goals is a simple way to take advantage of this. 

For example: your child wants to buy a £30 toy. You can print a savings sheet that your child can cross off or draw on every time he/she puts money towards that goal. That way, they see their little efforts adding up towards their savings goal!

There's no better way to keep a kid at it than through constant positive reinforcement. And what better way to positively reinforce your children’s behaviour than by letting them see their goal getting closer.

2. Use separate savings jars or a KinderCash piggy bank

A simple explanation of saving is putting money aside for future use. But smart saving is also making sure that you are teaching your kids the different uses of money. 

When teaching your kids how to save smartly, you need to explain how to allocate their funds. You have the opportunity to introduce  the following 4 categories:

  1. Money to spend: money for something small you’d like to buy in the near future
  2. Money to save: money you’d like to set aside for now, to buy something more costly later on
  3. Money to invest: money you really want to keep for much later on in life (e.g. for your studies or for a house) and that you can “put to work” in the meanwhile
  4. Money to donate: money you’d like to spend for a good cause that is important to you.

Each category should have its own jar or section in a piggy bank with multiple slots. I recommend the KinderCash because it's a piggy bank that does exactly this  - which I think is quite brilliant indeed.

It's important that kids begin to separate their savings into different categories. It makes it easier for them to make sure that their money has a purpose. A tangible meaning associated with money makes it easier to learn why saving is important for those goals to come to life.

3. Let your kids count their savings on their own

Another way to take advantage of your kids' need for concrete hands-on money moments, is to let them count their savings on their own.

When their savings jar or piggy bank is filling up, let them count the money they've set aside. This lets them own their accomplishment: being able to save money for a specific goal. Once they know the feeling of how amazing it is to be able to set aside the amount they counted -- they'll be encouraged to keep on doing it!.

4.  Set good examples!

This is definitely the most important step that you, as parents, can take. The best way for kids to learn how to save smart is if they see adults around them do so, too. Often we don’t make these money moments visible to our children. So we warmly encourage you to do so.  

As your kids' role models, it's your job to make sure that you set good examples for them to follow. If your kids don’t see taht you are saving, they won’t know that you certainly are. Keep your own savings and spending jars near those of your kids, and show them that you too are putting in your pennies, that you later bring to the bank. If they see that you are walking the walk and talking the talk, then your kids will be encouraged to follow. As parents, we should always act and practice the things we are teaching them.

Prepare Your Kids For Their Future -- The Smart Way

Here at A Smart Way To Start, we want to make sure that our kids are not only putting aside money for the sake of saving. We also want our kids to grow up living a conscious and fruitful life. 

We aim to teach kids that money is an expression of values and share practices that will help them become savvy and forward-thinking adults. We hope that all kids may become responsible stewards of the planet.

If you want to receive more tips and ideas on how to talk about money with kids The Smart Way, join our Monthly Money Tips newsletter.

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