How youth can be financially aware and responsible

What you need to know:

  • Money given to university students by Tanzania’s loans board to help them sustain their university expenditure is at times misused. It is not surprising to see a university student owning the latest smartphone that costs millions in shillings. This behaviour to have the finer things in life at a young age stems from the student’s upbringing.

It’s normal human behaviour to love money, a medium of exchange that can help people afford a living. Many people however consider money to be everything in life, while others do not hold it to such high prestige. Money expenditure is something that’s often times scrutinized. There are those who are called spendthrifts, people who have no boundaries when it comes to spending money.

Money given to university students by Tanzania’s loans board to help them sustain their university expenditure is at times misused. It is not surprising to see a university student owning the latest smartphone that costs millions in shillings. This behaviour to have the finer things in life at a young age stems from the student’s upbringing.

Success delves into the means through which parents and teachers can guide children to become responsible at spending money, a life skill that will help them in their adult life.

Being born into wealth at times breeds complacency in children, a trait that can stick with them to their adult life. Such is Theresia John’s case. Being an only child, she is able to get almost anything she asks for from her parents. During her childhood, her parents always provided everything she wanted without setting a limit.

It’s no surprise that in her teen years Theresia still desires to be given everything she wants from her parents, something that now doesn’t sit well with them. When her parents cannot afford what wants, she throws the mother of all tantrums.

Theresia is one among thousands of youth out there who lack a sense of responsibility due to poor upbringing.

Such an upbringing of spoon-feeding children only influences them to become lazy or unable to manage their finances well when they become adults.

Shemeji Melayeki, a public speaker and author, is of the view that children should be taught practical financial literacy. According to him, teaching children to budget imparts a sense of financial awareness and responsibility.

“Setting goals that children desire, giving them pocket money for chores and starting them in the workforce are extra steps that can be taken to promote good saving habits. The benefits of financial independence for your child are essential for them being able to survive in today’s society and economy. This informs a sound financial grounding for later in life,” he notes.

Shemeji, the founder of City Reading Champions Movement of Readers and General Overseer at Global Family Gatherings Ministries in Arusha, adds that teaching your child about giving back to the community through charities is also a valuable activity. Equipping your child with financial knowledge is the best way for them to make informed choices about their financial future.

Dr. Eugenia Kafanabo, an expert in curriculum studies and a senior lecturer at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education, says schools need to teach students and guide them on proper money management.

According to her, schools need to have projects such as school gardens whereby students participate at least for half an hour daily. Pupils and students should be taught from the beginning how to keep records of everything concerning their school garden project. By doing so, she says, it will help them be responsible and accountable for everything including managing money they get from the project.

“Otherwise, it will reach a situation where we have university students complaining of unemployment while they are unable to do even simple self-reliant work,” she says.

To avoid such a situation, Dr Eugenia advises schools to change the way they teach. “Let us change our school curriculum. Let children participate in other activities that can generate them an income. Today, we have children who demand almost everything because this is the way we have raised them,” she notes. The senior lecturer says most children lack education on how they should work and manage well the money they earn from doing different activities. On the other hand, she urges parents to openly tell their children that sometimes they won’t be able to get what they ask for.

Samke Mhlongo, a leading South African Wealth Coach and founder of “The Next Chapter (“TNC”) Wealth Partners”, once explained that “the earlier a child learns about money, savings and investment, the better money managers they will become”.

“Such skills help children to understand the difference between earning, spending and saving, making them better money managers who are able to budget. It also helps children understand the value of money at an early age and helps them make better financial decisions,” she argues.

A Coordinator at Legendary Performers, Wilfred Alex, says when a person/child is an extravagant one, he/she is avid to excessive spending of whatever money he/she has or any other resource for that matter.

“Although children would find that pleasing, the same is at a degree regarded as wasteful by ordinary standards - hence, they would become extravagant, a behavioural disposition rather than being a natural course. People are not born to become extravagant; they learn and acquire the behaviour,” he urges.

According to him, being extravagant is a product of being exposed to circumstances that give peep to being excessive. “Often we learn it from parents, peers, neighbourhoods and siblings. All that parents need to teach their children to shun becoming extravagant is to limit their exposure to behaviours of excessive use of what they have,” he argues.

A psychologist Jean Piaget argues that “When they’re growing, children are copycats: they see and imitate what is in their surrounding”. In his cognitive development studies Jean Piaget found out that such behavioural learning is done through a series of processes: internalization of what caretakers do, imitation, assimilation and accommodation from experience. “Thus we can almost condition any learning of our children by laying lids on what they internalize, assimilate and accommodate from the environment,” says Jean Piaget.

A psychosocial wellbeing for all children (Repssi) Edwick Mapalala says when it comes to parenting; guardians and parents should teach children to be satisfied with whatever they get.

“Parents are the sources of having children who are not responsible and very poor in their own finance management. For example, most parents leave their children under the care of housemaids for a great part of the day and in order to compensate their absence parents tend to offer their children with anything they would ask for,” says Edwick.

She adds that children’s behaviour can be moulded from a young age. “There is nothing like a bad child in this world; It is parents who make a child not to behave well,” she argues. “Due to busy schedules, parents forget to monitor their children’s behaviourial pattern, and when they get a whiff of what’s unfolding, it’s often too late to make effective changes,” she notes.