What are toys teaching kids about money?

Last year, I took some photos of my mother’s toy cash register for a blog post. Around the same time, a couple of our friends came to stay with their young daughter. She had a toy cash register of her own (which I also photographed). The two toys looked pretty similar (the newer version had an electronic display, and came with a paper ‘credit card’).

The role of artefacts like games in language development has long been an interest of mine. When I saw these two cash registers, I became interested in the role of toys and games in financial literacy.

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Where should kids learn about money?

Like language, money is a symbolic system we use to communicate with each other. Kids’ exposure and sensitivity to language begins early, and the same may be true of money. The majority of opinions agree financial education ‘begins with children – the younger the better’. In the last post, we looked at what an important role financial education and family background has in influencing outcomes in life.

But where do – and where should – kids learn about money?

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Are the wealthy rich because they’re smart?

Are rich people rich because they’re smarter than the rest of us?

Or to put it another way, are you not rich because you’re not smart enough?

According to a study conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 69% of people believe ‘there is enough opportunity for virtually everyone to get on in their life if they really want to’ – in other words, if you’re poor, it’s your fault.

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How can I take better care of my belongings?

As we’re preparing to leave Japan after almost three months, getting ready to pack our bags, I find myself reflecting on the belongings we have with us, those we left behind, and the day we arrived in Osaka.

We got off the bus with our small backpacks and began walking down the road. Most people were struggling with heavy suitcases and multiple bags. As we continued on foot to a cheap restaurant where we could spend a few hours killing time before our check-in, we passed a small trolley, probably belonging to a homeless person, impeccably organised. Expensive executive bags with multiple specialty pockets and zippers and organising inserts would not even come close to the precision with which the owner of this trolley had carefully stored their few possessions. An assortment of neatly stacked books. A row of well-organised toiletries.

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Want to start your own business?

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, chances are, you have thought of starting your own business. Almost 70% of Taiwanese employees between 21 and 40 want to set up their own businesses, and a University of Phoenix survey showed 63% of those in their 20s are either already or wanting to become business owners. Maybe digital nomads.

The lure of entrepreneurship appears correlated with age, possibly because those in their 20s have fewer responsibilities in the way of children or mortgages, they may have parents that are willing to financially support them, and they may deal better with the grueling hours required. I suggest, with the benefit of a couple of years’ experience, that people in their 20s may also simply be less burned out by work. But Minda Zetin at Inc suggests that witnessing startup culture may be another important reason.

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Should you get another quote on your toothpaste?

When you’re forking out a lot for a one-off purchase it’s common sense to get a second quote. Maybe you’re about to have some new wardrobes installed. The first carpenter quotes you $2,000 for the job. The next says they’ll build the wardrobes for $1,800. You feel pretty pleased with your $200 saving.

When it comes to everyday items, it’s far less likely we’ll be bothered whipping out the calculator or opening up a spreadsheet. But using the same approach may be one of the simplest ways to save money without sacrificing your lifestyle.

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Does it pay to play the ‘woman card’?

In the 2016 US election (which was itself somewhat like a game of ‘Cards Against Humanity‘), candidate Hilary Clinton was accused of playing the ‘woman card’ by rival Donald Trump. In reaction, her campaign actually produced such a card (with the dubious ‘benefits’ of lower wages, more expensive health care, no family leave, and ‘limited access to your own reproductive rights’) – although arguably no family leave is a circumstance that affects men as much as women, and framing it as a women’s issue only worsens the burden.

These cards were sold at $5 to fund Clinton’s campaign – ironically, resulting in Clinton literally playing the ‘woman card’ in her fundraising. But does it actually pay to play the ‘woman card’ in a financial sense?

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