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Talking Cents

By Frank Conway, Nov 14 2017 07:14PM

Christmas is a special time. It is a time that Irish families splurge and spend. In fact, the average Irish family is estimated to spend approximately €1500 buying gifts and preparing for this special season.

With all of this spending, it is also a great time to teach young ones about savings and money management.

So, here are the MoneyWhizz top tips to using the Christmas season to teach kids about money:

1. Ready, set...challenge, the money challenge that is! Keep it simple. For younger children, keep the money challenge very easy to achieve. For example, for children aged 3 – 4, get them to collect a 10cent euro coin from every country in the Eurozone, it can be a lot of fun. If your child is a little older, set a specific money challenge for something they wish to purchase.

2. Time it – and with any good money challenge, put a timeframe on it, it really will add to the excitement!

3. Do the money split. No! We’re not talking gymnastics. We’re talking about giving your child two separate money boxes...and name each one; 'spending' and 'saving'. It would be better still if you could colour-code the boxes, GREEN for savings and RED for spending (as in STOP spending! - you get my drift!). Lead by example, have a money box of your own and work towards the money goal together!

4. Piggy Banks It seems obvious, but a cute saving box can be a really great way to encourage your little ones to put aside some money. Try to find one that your child will treasure...and difficult to open!!!

5. Little rewards - why not link savings with easy around-the-house tasks and reward them each time that task is done. Not only is this a great way to link money to earnings (a lesson for the future) but is also means they have a way of reaching their savings goal.

6. Visualise it - Make a special savings chart using a calendar so that if they are on target with their savings goal, they can also see it. This will spur then on the closer and closer to their ultimate goal. This is also an important step even for adults!

7. Ca-ching time! - If your little one is being really brilliant with their money, and saving all they can - why not reward them? Perhaps it could be a sleepover with their pals. Or, if they are ahead on their savings goal, make a little extra money top-up just to show you are proud of them...a bit like the old SSIA programme.

8. Give them a glass money jar...and give it a name. So, if you call the jar “Jingles”, then you can have a lot of fun asking your child if they fed Jingles today. Get them to place Jingles in their bedroom and whatever money they find down the back of the chair let them keep, so long as they aren’t going to spend it, yet.

9. Money nursery – the great thing about a savings account is money is placed out of the temptation of spending. So, if your child likes a little bit of excitement, why not open savings account. Now I know you said that banks and credit unions don’t pay interest on savings but some do. The best deal on the market is the Youth Saver Account at BoI. It pays 2.5% . Remember, while the bank pays, Government takes away so even the youngsters will have to cough up a whopping 39% DIRT (reducing to 37% in 2018) on and interest they earn...but savings are not just about interest, they are about the discipline of putting some extra cash aside. (Disclaimer – MoneyWhizz works on a financial education collaboration with BoI in primary schools). And with that all those savings, maybe those kids will actually have the cash to buy Ireland and island one day!!!

10. It’s their money, make it count Children as young as 3 learn to understand money and by age 7, can start to form money habits so it is important to get them on the right money track early. With savings, they can learn so many great habits!

Happy savings, happy learning and happy Christmas!

By Frank Conway, Feb 2 2017 02:58PM

Passive investing can generate greater investment returns
Passive investing can generate greater investment returns

There is a growing debate as to whether Warren Buffet and mega money managers like Vanguard are right when they discuss investing strategies.

And in case you might have missed that debate, the central issue is fees.

Passive investing supporters like Buffet and Vanguard founder, Jack Bogle argue that there is no benefit to the investing public when it comes to paying too much money over to ‘active’ investors. Those are the guys that spend a lot of their time buying and selling stocks and bonds in order to ‘beat’ the market and generate a higher rate of return to their customers.

Bogle and Buffet believe it is more profitable to take a less active approach, a passive approach. They argue that it is impossible to beat the market long-term and those that do only do so for a very short period of time, their luck runs out and over time, their rapid fire buy-sell approach actually costs investors huge sums of money unnecessarily.

For Buffet and Bogle, the math is overwhelmingly in their favour.

When I talk to investors and students, explaining the concept of active and passive investing can be a little daunting. At first, I tried to simply present the maths and while this worked in offering the science, it didn’t fully explain the real difference between the different approaches.

Until yesterday!

While out on a run, I experienced the difference.

It was about 7pm and traffic was heavy.

What I noticed was that I was getting to the next set of lights at the same time as two particular cars. This lasted for just two sets of lights. And this reminded me of another driving experience through Manhattan a few years ago. Provided you drive at a particular rate of speed, it is possible to hit a majority of green lights all the way from lower Manhattan to the top end of the island. This is passive investing.

When I did that drive across Manhattan, I noticed another car that sped from light to light. It got caught at every red light. And at the end of the cross-island drive, I was still next to it. The other driver was active investing; speed, spurts and stops and along the way, getting no further, using more fuel and probably risking a speeding ticket.

For some investors, there can be a certain romance in the concept of the Wall Street type financial adviser.

When it comes to growing your money there are many investment options to consider. But when it comes to investing approaches, there are only two; active or passive.

The maths support a passive approach all day for the sheer size of the investment return potential over time.

At the end of the day, this is broadly the better option to securing more long term wealth growth…and putting money in your investment account (including pensions).

Frank Conway is a Qualified Financial Adviser and Founder of the MoneyWhizz, the financial literacy initiative

By Frank Conway, Feb 1 2017 06:23PM

With the passing of the dark days of January, February brings a touch of Spring in the Irish air. And what better time to sit down and give some thought to your finances.

Learning about money should be a life-long process. And this is especially true today as more and more of us can expect to live longer yet have more financial responsibility when we stop working and earning a regular income. With both the State and employers scaling back from offering the traditional supports in retirement than in past years, how financially fit we are throughout life will set the stage for how well off we can expect to be. And it is financial literacy that will underpin this.

You are never too young, or old to learn about money, money management and how to improve your financial literacy.

In fact, financial literacy should be more than a passing fad. It should be treated just like physical fitness; a regular process of learning and refinement that will help those that are actively involved.

Following are some simple and practical steps that can support you in the continuous financial literacy journey:

1 Create visibility and keep an eye on your spending (and bank balance).

There is no doubt that modern technology has made it really easy to check in on your bank account regularly. It can be done from your home PC or your phone. So why not use the access to regularly check into your bank account balance and keep an eye on your spending as this can serve as a powerful way of keeping your spending in check. Use the information to track expenses, set goals and remain in track to achieving those goals.

2 Browse the finance section of a paper

Many journalists do a great job researching the market for all sorts of financial news, money-saving tips and best practice. This can range from tips on investing for retirement, cutting health insurance costs, buying a home and saving for a rainy day. So use their expertise as it can be a great starting point to getting great impartial money tips that could pay off handsomely in the long term.

3 Be humble and ask questions

People can be very hesitant to ask money questions. This happens where they can have legitimate questions but fear sounding ‘dumb’. There is NEVER a dumb question when it comes to money. Never! Remember, the worst thing you can do when it comes to your money is remaining silent. Talk, ask questions and speak up. If you don’t understand what compound interest is, ask! If you don’t understand what TER or OCF is, ask! Bye the way, they mean Total Expense Ration and Ongoing Charges Figure and refer to the costs that are applied to investments. The worst thing you can do when it comes to your money is remaining silent.

Frank Conway is a Qualified Financial Adviser and Founder of, the financial literacy initiative.

By Frank Conway, Jan 17 2017 07:41PM

Every year, more and more adults make common mistakes when it comes to money. Especially difficult for many are concepts such as investing sufficiently, planning for life needs and preparing for money surprises.

But as we move faster and faster towards a cashless society, along this money superhighway, it becomes critical that kids are taught the essential elements of money and how the money system works. This can provide them with essential life skills that will pay massive dividends in the future.

For parents and teachers alike, there are a number of core skills that every 6-year old child should know about money including:

1. Planning helps people make choices about how to use their money.

2. There are 2 kinds of sharing – some goods can be shared that do not have to be returned, such as a gift. But there is another form of sharing, like something that is borrowed. And in the case of a borrowed item, this must be returned.

3. People that live in a local community share with one another everyday where they share the cost of services, like the cost of running the local school or paying for nurses in a hospital.

4. Money is limited for most people so it is important to protect it.

5. Money can only be spent once – after it is used, that’s it, it’s gone!

The new financial literacy framework developed by MoneyWhizz is a comprehensive set of guidelines developed specifically to facilitate parents; teachers and communities extend core financial principles.

The purpose of developing the principles and supports is to ensure that kids are better prepared to shoulder the burden of financial responsibility now and in the future. But equally important is that adults are empowered to facilitate the dissemination of the financial knowledge.

MoneyWhizz is proud to support kids learn about money as financial awareness is a core life skill.

By Frank Conway, Jan 16 2017 09:37PM

Talking Cents with Ollie is a new and innovative financial education programme developed here in Ireland. Its main goal is to teach kids aged 7 - 11 about money and how money works. And it is developed to be fun!

Bye the way, Ollie is the wise Owl that offers all of the money wisdom.

Talking Cents with Ollie focuses on the core money issues that kids will be required to master, including money management, budgeting, planning, avoiding financial mistakes and much more. So, for the first few editions of Talking Cents with Ollie, we focus on some core areas of discussion.

But the really important feature of Talking Cents with Ollie is that kids will not be learning on their own. While each edition of Ollie comes with child specific content, there is also an adult support section (parents, teachers and grandparents can use this) that empowers adults to have really meaningful money conversations with their kids.

Each edition of Ollie will have a specific focus. For example, in the first edition, the topic of the history of money is discussed. So within the Ollie Magazine, kids learn about barter and the gradual modernisation of money to the form we are all familiar with today.

In edition 2, Ollie discusses Needs and Wants. Important topics, especially since we can all experience a little out-of-control spending if fail to control spending on expensive 'wants' in life.

In addition to the broad content of each Ollie edition, there are some really great features, such as critical thinking incorporated into each edition of Ollie. The purpose of course is to force kids to think and reflect on the lessons contained within each Ollie edition.

Talking Cents with Ollie teacheskids aged 7 - 11 about money
Talking Cents with Ollie teacheskids aged 7 - 11 about money