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Help Your Kids to Manage Finance Digitally

University graduates Chester Szeen and Teresa Chan found an all-in-one financial app - Mellow - to teach children how to save and spend money smartly on hopes to help the new generation to develop healthy spending habits.

The idea of the app was born out from the two founders' experience. Szeen asked his parents for pocket money until graduated from the university. When Szeen started to manage his finance, he was scared of mismanaging his salary as he could no longer rely on his parents.

Chan said, "I failed so many times to learn how to manage my finance.” Her experience inspired her to create an app for teaching children to manage finance.

Chester Szeen and Teresa Chan started a financial education app together in 2017, the app was launched this year.

Lack of financial goals among youngsters

A survey found that many Hong Kong people are facing financial difficulties and lack of wealth management education.

The Investor and Financial Education Council interviewed 688 people in December and found that most Hong Kong people regret on overspending, failing to make any investments, and failing to stick to a budget while half of the responders said that they did not set any financial goals.

Financial literacy app designed for habit building

Mellow was found in July 2017 after Szeen and Chan graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

They pointed out that many apps and workshops in the market that teach children about managing finance are "either non-practical, non-habitual or non-educational” and mostly one-off.

Mellow was funded by Cyberport with $100,000 Seed Funding.

Both parents and children could engage in the process of using the app, Mellow, to experience and learn the full spectrum of personal finance solutions, which combines education, analytics, and gamification.

One of the major functions of Mellow is helping children to set their saving goals. A child can find out how much money they could save everyday after entering his or her daily expenses in items such as toys, so saving and spending habits can be developed through the app. 

Kids can set their monthly goals in terms of how much they can save and earn, and make a wish list for their desired items.

Combined effort of teachers and parents

Mellow was designed for six to eighteen years old kids and their parents. Kindergarten teacher Joyce Ng agreed that six-year-old is a suitable age to introduce the concept of finance management. “Children could be introduced the concept of currency when they are six years old and the first time to study about finance management,” Ng explained.

Ng would also let the kids to taste the feeling of earning money and wish them understanding that money is not come from nowhere. “For example, they can get a dollar when they clean the blackboard, or they put the toys back,” Ng said. 

Parents should teach children to differentiate between “needs” and “wants”, not to make impulsive purchases, as IFEC stated.

Kindergartens would not offer much of financial literacy lesson to kids since they are under six years old, she said. Ng encourages parents to teach their kids about finance managing in the daily life, and saying that family is an important part on building children’s concept of money.

Interactive App between Parents and Kids

Szeen and Chan agreed that interactions between parents and kids are important in the process of learning finance management and they designed two different versions of the app for parents and kids, respectively. Szeen said that parents can assign some tasks to their kids in the parent version while children can also pitch tasks through the kid's version of the app. When kids finished the tasks, they would earn extra income or points as reward.

The Investor and Financial Education Council strongly believes that kids should start learning the concept of money and developing proper habits and attitudes towards money. Parents and schools play an important role on instilling financial knowledge to the children, the council said.

Teaching children the concept of money is the first step to helping them understand its value.

Parents can make use of everyday situations to let their children to learn practical money skills to foster children's sense of responsibility and provide a foundation that will positively impact their financial well-being in adulthood, IFEC Head of Communications and Resources Ms Jill Tan said. For example, how to make smart purchases when shopping, reviewing household bills and planning and budgeting for family outings, she added. 

The Chin Family: 20 traits of a money-smart child

The Chin Family, a financial education website operated by IFEC, have much tips and articles about teaching parents how to make use of day-to-day family activities to transmit the financial management concept to their children.

IFEC has identified 20 traits of a money-smart child. Here are some of the examples for different age groups.

  • For children aged 6 to 8, they should make an effort to gain rewards.
  • For those aged 9 to 11, they should set short term savings goal.
  • For those aged 12 to 14, they should use a tool to make budget and regularly reviews it.
  • For those aged 15 to 17, they should make sure the amounts on receipts, invoices, statements, octopus transactions, are correct and follow ups on those are not.

Investor Education Centre research in 2014 found that students preferred more on activity or game-based, interactive learning and real-time experiences. They also like to learn through media and promotions.

IFEC organized some dedicated programmes that are tailored for school children, from primary schools all the way to tertiary institutions, and flagship events for children during the summer holidays.

"These initiatives are designed not only to give children a solid foundation in financial knowledge but also to make learning about money matters more fun, engaging and meaningful," Ms Tan said.

《The Young Financial Post 新報人財經》

新報人財經(TYFP)為香港浸會大學新聞系財經專業的實驗平台,由學生自主編採,為社會大眾提供中港相關的金融財經消息。

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