Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and this is particularly true when it comes to financial wellbeing. Many money problems that people face could have been avoided if financial literacy were taught earlier in life. Knowledge helps create a foundation for children to build strong money habits early on and avoid many mistakes that lead to a lifelong of money struggles.
In response to this, Financial Wellness Coach, mom, and author Jean Archary has produced a children’s book called Mrs Spiggles and Her Money Tales which shares important money messages with children and aims to set them on a path to financial wellbeing in the future.
Mrs Spiggles is a flying piggy bank come to life, and in the book, she imparts four key money messages in a series of short stories. The first, entitled “Taylor’s Birthday Surprise” is about how money is earned and the importance of budgeting.
The second story, “Tiyan Loses a Tooth” teaches about the importance of saving up for what you want. In the third story, “Amo Takes Dad Shopping”, children will learn about how to spend money wisely and to first purchase what you need, before buying what you want. The final story in the collection, called “Taria Has a Bad Dream” teaches about the value of money and the importance of giving to the less fortunate.
Each story relays an important money message, and the book is appropriate for children between the ages of six and eleven. At the end of each story there are a list of questions that can be used to test your child’s understanding of the concepts relayed. “You will be amazed by the profound conversations that occur,” says Archary, who explains that she decided to write this children’s book because she wants to help parents equip their children with the habits, skills and knowledge required to better manage their finances so that they can create and sustain the life they want.“American poet, Maya Angelou, said that “when we know better, we do better”. During the course of my career in financial services I have witnessed many adults make disastrous financial mistakes that could have been avoided with proper knowledge and guidance. My hope is that the book will be the steppingstone for a future of financial savviness for the next generation.”
The inspiration for Mrs Spiggles
“I will never forget the day that started this journey. My daughter was about six, and I was doing the afternoon school run. It was extremely hot and I suggested we stop for an ice cream. She wanted one from a fast-food outlet that cost about R5. However, this detour was in the opposite direction of home, so I suggested we get an ice cream from the nearby supermarket. I bought three ice creams costing R20 each and when we got home, I mentioned that these ice creams were expensive. Her response was: What do you mean, mommy?”
“Having worked in financial services, and having delivered financial education talks to adults, even I found myself struggling to explain the concept of “expensive” in a way that would make sense to her,” says Archary. “So I went off to the bookstore to find a storybook that would assist with unpacking the details. To my surprise, I could not find any age-appropriate books relating to money. This triggered an idea, and this was how Mrs Spiggles was born.”
“Initially, I had planned to write only one book, but when I sat down to brainstorm, I realised that there were just too many money messages that needed to be explained. And this was how a series of stories came about. My daughter’s drawing of a piggybank inspired the idea for the character Mrs Spiggles – so in effect we co-created the book.”
Our childhood plays a huge role in who we become as adults
Archary says that the very first memory she has of money is not a pleasant one. After years of stability and wealth, her family experienced a financial collapse, and after her parents split when she was eight her mother then raised her and her siblings single-handedly.
“These changes brought about a rude awakening and all of a sudden, money was always short and this placed a restriction on many of the things we needed and wanted.”
“However, I do not view this experience as a negative. In fact, I am grateful for the lessons I learned along the way, and this is what ultimately led me to become a financial wellness coach and allow me to empower others about money so that they can avoid financial mistakes that so many make.”
Education is power. The future is indeed in our hands
Archary, who holds a BA (majoring in Psychology and Communication), is a Certified Financial Planner® with a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Tax, and is a Certified Workplace Coach, says that as parents, we have a great responsibility in making the world a better place for our children.
“Part of this is to equip them with the knowledge to ensure they understand money and how to avoid making life-damaging financial mistakes.” As part of her drive to educate and empower people on working with money, Archary also offers short courses on money matters for children and adults and runs a Facebook group called “Raising Money Smart Kids” https://www.facebook.com/MrsSpiggles which offers advice for parents.
Mrs Spiggles and Her Money Tales is available at Exclusive Books countrywide. For more information visit www.mrsspiggles.co.za.