How much money do you have? Why can’t we spend money on that? I was surprise by how quickly questions about money became part of my kids’ vocabulary. The want/desire for things and happens early on for kids, and as parents it’s so important to have these conversations early on to empower kids about money and to teach them how it works.
Enter The Money Box: an activity box designed to teach children (ages three and up) the value of US currency, introduce them to basic financial concepts such as saving, investing, and giving, and promote critical thinking about money.
Created by Ebony Beckford, financial literacy advocate and founder of the Fin Lit Kids brand, the kit is packed with fun and engaging games and activities such as a play money game, matching game, guides, spend chairs and an engaging coloring book about money. To learn more about the brand and this important topic, we spoke with Ebony about how the idea came about and how The Money Book can empower parents and kids to learn more about money and develop good financial skills early on.
Interview with Ebony Beckford, Founder of The Money Box and Fin Lit Kids
Weekend Jaunts: How did the idea for Fin Lit Kids come about?
Ebony Beckford: The idea for Fin Lit Kids came after seeing the strong response to my first book, Madison’s 1st Dollar. So many of my friends, family members, and customers confessed that they loved the book because they had never received an education around money and did not know how to pass on good habits around spending responsibly and building wealth to their children. I realized that if I could help bridge that gap I would be addressing a major pain point for parents across the economic spectrum.
Weekend Jaunts: How can teaching kids early on help with economic inequality?
Ebony Beckford: As with most habit-forming activities, the earlier one learns them the greater the chances they will continue practicing them throughout their lifetime. A research study by Cambridge University in England revealed that children begin to understand that money has value as early as age 3, and the habits that impact the way decisions are made around money in adulthood are formed by age 7. So by teaching financial concepts early, we are equipping children with a financial toolbox that will help facilitate their financial prosperity in adulthood.
Weekend Jaunts: How did you decide on what activities do you showcase in the box?
Ebony Beckford: The Money Box is the first of four boxes designed to introduce kids to basic money concepts while promoting critical thinking skills around spending it. The first thing I did when designing the box was to create a list of activities and games that I was either using or planning to use with my daughter to develop her language and counting skills. I then created a panel of parents and educators who helped choose the games and activities that they believed would be fun, engaging, and educational for both kids and parents.
Weekend Jaunts: What do you hope children and parents will get out of it?
Ebony Beckford: I hope my products offer parents and children a fun, engaging, educational, and safe way to have meaningful conversations around money as a family.
Weekend Jaunts: Why is money such a hard topic for some people (not just kids) to understand?
Ebony Beckford: I believe there are deeply embedded, structural systems in place that make the topic of money hard for most people to talk about and understand. What makes that ironic is as a country, we have been conditioned to believe that our value is actually directly tied to our net worth. So for many, there is a reluctance or shame around having frank discussions around one’s personal finances, which is actually the critical first step to improving them.
When you really think about it, what any of us can do with money is rather simple, we can save it earn it, invest it, donate, or give it away. But when you are being marketed to daily by one financial institution or the other and inundated with terminology and financial jargon without a foundational understanding, it quickly becomes intimidating and overwhelming. How do I set up a bank account? What is an IRA? Do I invest in real estate or the stock market? It’s easy to become dejected, conclude there is simply too much to learn, and opt to do nothing. Our goal is not to convince parents the value of saving and investing. Most already understand that on a high level.
We strive to make the process of becoming financially literate more approachable for families, so they don’t avoid the topic entirely and help them realize they are fully capable of taking their financial future in their own hands.
Weekend Jaunts: What’s next for you?
Ebony Beckford: I am going to continue to grow the Fin Lit Kids brand. The Money Box is the first of four boxes designed around the theme of my four-part book series, The Madison’s Money Book Series. I am currently working on the product line for the second box and finishing the illustrations for the second book, which hopefully will be released at the end of the second quarter this year. I am also in the early stages of developing a curriculum that will help teachers introduce financial concepts in schools, with a strong focus on unveiling it to student populations most impacted by the racial wealth divide.
Weekend Jaunts: Anything else to add?
Ebony Beckford: I just want to stress to parents, caretakers, and educators that what we do or do not teach our children about money will impact their financial stability as adults. Saving for a child’s future is important but there is no greater fortune that one could give to a child than financial literacy. There is a reason why we have so many examples of people who inherit large sums of money and spend it all. This is because it is not just about how much you have, it’s about how well you manage what you have that has the greatest impact on the future of your children’s financial stability.