Saturday, 19 May 2012

20 money milestones for kids

As school exams get underway there’s a lot of stuff being digested in teenage bedrooms all over the country. I don’t just mean chocolate hob-nobs, but maybe some geography, german and algebra too.
Are modern kids prepared for the money world?
However,  one subject that’s notably absent from the modern curriculum is financial literacy. 
In a couple of years hoards of these youngsters will be managing their own finances, perhaps while saddled with student loans. And research shows that a big chunk of them won’t understand the money basics, like the difference between AER and APR or how compound interest works, by the time they reach adulthood.

That’s why I welcomed the launch this week of a website aimed at helping kids understand money. is a site that features 20 essential money milestones that kids go through from the age of three to eighteen.
OK, it’s a US site but loads of the common sense stuff applies here too.
As do the key activities that help kids to learn at each age stage. I’ve selected just one for each age group here:
3 – 5 year olds need to understand that you may have to wait before you can have something that you want (see my earlier blog on one thing to teach your kids)
6-10 years olds need to know that it’s good to shop around and compare prices before you buy
11- 13 year olds are advised to save a dime for every dollar they get (for kids in the UK that would be 10p in the pound, although I suggest a third is better)
15 – 18 year olds are advised to use cash rather than credit cards for purchases and the over 18s are told they should only use a credit card if they can pay off the whole balance in full every month.

Many of the money problems we see in adults have their roots in childhood. 
So many of us had little or no financial education as kids and grew up into financial illiterate adults. Others had parents who handed down such strict money rules that money strikes fear in them years later and they avoid responsibility. 
One way to stop this pattern repeating itself if you have kids is to start a simple money education as soon as they are old enough to reach up and hand their pennies over the sweetie counter. The moneyasyougrow site is a good place to start; there are also lots of tips in Sheconomics.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

What ‘price’ do you put on being fashionable?

Fashion theorists often debate whether fashion liberates or enslaves women. Arguably, all fashions are enslaving. 
But some are more enslaving than others. 
Tight skirts restrict free movement.
Heels are one of the weird ways in which women
 are trapped by fashion,
according to Professor Mary Beard.
High heels make walking difficult and running nigh impossible.
And then there are nail extensions.
Nail extensions strike me as the most enslaving of all current fashions. Just when we’ve become liberated to the point where we can do virtually anything men can do, we go and turn ourselves into Edwina Scissorhands.

Modern handicapping?

In fact, the practice of affixing acrylic appendages to the ends of women’s fingers strikes me as the modern equivalent of foot-binding.

It undermine’s women autonomy. It stops them from performing a whole host of quotidien acts fundamental to life.I have normal, unextended nails. That means I am free to:
  • Knead dough
  • Tickle a baby
  • Throw a pot on a wheel
  • Sow seeds
  • Caress my husband
without causing anybody grievous bodily harm.
I defy anyone to do any of those things in one-and-a-half-inch rock-hard chiselled and lacquered nail extensions (OK I just defy anyone to do the last one).
As Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it”
At the risk of getting my eyes scratched out, I would say any fashion that involves physical bonds is over-priced. Not just monetarily but in the treasured moments of life sacrificed for it.

I'm all for adornment, just not into self-crippling or self-handicapping adornment.  
Check this out:
The Body Adorned exhibition at the Horniman Museum explores how people clothe and adorn their bodies, with a special focus on London. Over time, saris, tattoo parlours, nail bars, distended ears and scarification have become a visible, everyday part of the London cityscape. But how did cultural adornments become integrated into urban London life? This exhibition invites you to look at how you dress your body and why. It’s well worth a visit.

The Body Adorned runs until
 6th January 2013.