Financial literacy advocate and Editor of Money magazine, Effie Zahos can add ‘children’s author’ to her list of achievements with the publication of her first illustrated book, The Great $20 Adventure.
The story follows Max and his dog George as they think about what to do with the $20 Max received from his Grandma for his birthday.
Financial Literacy Australia asked Effie about her new book.
What motivated you to write the book?
My son had a serious spending addiction. Every time he received any cash off his grandparents he would run to EB games and buy Skylanders. One day I added up the amount he had spent on his addition and I realise he had enough to put a deposit down on a house. Slight exaggeration but you get my point.
How have your own kids responded to it?
The story had been in my head for some time so I actually read what was a script of the book to both my son and daughter a couple of years ago. When it was finally published and the characters came to life I think they were slightly taken back. Kosta, my 9 year old was very keen for me to read it again. He loved the characters and was very vocal about what Max should do with his cash. My daughter who is a little older now (14 ) could still relate to the story and based on her comments has clearly run into a few of the characters herself. Both of my children are pretty good with their cash now. My son actually is a little too good, refusing to spend any of his cash which is problematic in itself.
Why do you think it’s so important to ensure kids are financially literate?
Money habits are formed at a very early age. The sooner they understand the value of a dollar the better. I for one would like a financially independent child that hopefully still isn’t living at home at the age of 40.
What advice do you give parents when they ask you about children and money?
In the back of the book I have five money habits to share with your kids:
- As soon as they can count introduce them to money.
- Help them learn the difference between wants and needs.
- Get them to set their own money goals.
- Encourage them to open their own bank account.
- Let them be responsible for their own spending decisions. Mistakes will be made but lessons will be learnt.