Thought-Provoking Fiction

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I was stunned and deeply troubled recently to hear about a friend’s financial circumstances. From beginning married life with a $10,000 mortgage some twenty years ago, today she and her husband are burdened by a mortgage in the hundreds of thousands for the same suburban three-bedroom unit.

How did that happen? Quite simply: they didn’t fully understand the terms of their loan or that the expensive childcare they were paying for was costing them more than the income she was bringing in.

piggybankA few weeks ago I harped on about our need for Common Sense Skills in schools, especially Communication Skills. (Link here if you haven’t read it.) This time I want to harp on about our urgent need for financial literacy.

Did you know that Australia has one of the highest levels of household debt in the world?
Did you know that Australian teenagers are scoring worse on financial literacy tests than in 2012?
Did you know that adults are still taking out loans they don’t understand (even after the supposed wake-up call of the Global Financial Crisis)?

Did you know that students who discuss money with their parents and have a bank account perform better on financial literacy tests?

It’s that easy! Talk about money with your kids. Sit down with them and give them the hard facts about what you spend on your mortgage or rent, food bill, utilities, car maintenance and petrol, school fees, activities, clothing and shoes, health care, holidays, outings, gifts… etc. Then show them what you earn. Voilà! Amazing personal development program at your kitchen table.

I was delighted when I was asked by business coach Camilla Mendoza to write a novel teaching financial literacy skills to teenagers. QUEST FOR RICHES is the result, and I hope this book is picked up by schools because it’s full of really useful practical information in, as per my usual style, the form of an entertaining story about four teenagers. (No, you haven't missed the launch. It's still coming...)

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to talk about the book with two groups of teens at an event called ‘The Comfort Zone’ that was being run at EV’s Youth Centre in Croydon. The brilliant idea of ‘Work Ready Coach’ Mario de Souza, the room was set up with a comfy zone in the centre: armchairs, cushions, movies… while in break-out rooms around the outside, activities were being run on various topics such as Sugar Awareness, ‘Digital Dopamine’, teamwork, mindfulness, and – the four money personalities! (That was me sharing about the characters in Quest For Riches.)

Each student who attended a workshop instead of lounging around on the lounge suite, accrued points and went into the draw for prizes that had been donated by local business, such as cinema tickets.

It was a great day, and I was very pleased to meet a teacher who is reading Quest For Riches at the moment and keen to have the school adopt the book as a text. Watch this space!

Meanwhile, do your kids a favour and talk about money with them. Open a bank account. Encourage them to save. Read Quest For Riches together… 

love blossomsIt’s great to see so many schools proclaiming their values via big colourful posters around the campus on subjects to do with kindness and fairness and honesty and tolerance, and I have no doubt that teachers and principals repeatedly emphasise these values when they address students, but what about actual regular skill development?

‘Riches, my boy, don’t consist in having things but in not having to do something you don’t want to do, and don’t you forget it. Riches is being able to thumb your nose.’ - Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

I was at a business networking event recently when I found myself chatting with Jay, an Indian businessman who shared with me the following story: 

Jay's son had discovered that his friend received 50c for doing the dishes. After telling his mother, she asked, ‘Do you want 50c too?’ 

Mother's Day last Sunday reminded me of an article I wrote years ago about my children and the antics they were getting up to. As my youngest have just turned 18, I'm entering a whole new era now. I was a very focused mother – we home-educated as well, hence the Nina character, so mothering has always been a huge part of my life. I've also been very entrepreneurial and so never expected any empty nest syndrome at all; I was quite taken aback by a temporary feeling of purposelessness when the girls turned 18. It was almost as if my 'raison d'être' was complete. 

ballet shoesLast week I went shopping with my 16 year old twin daughters to buy new shoes for their respective hobbies: ballet pointe shoes for one daughter and soccer boots for the other. I rather loved that outing because it was such a confirmation of our trust in our kids.

Having twins brings up all sorts of issues that we don't have to consider with children that come by-one-one. In particular, their individuality. Does one deliberately put twins into different classes and hobbies, or even schools, so that they develop their individuality, or does one allow them to decide how soon they are ready to diverge?