There seems to be an app for everything nowadays.

From shopping and dating, to pet grooming and fuel refills, you needn’t get off the couch anymore.

A few taps, swipes and scrolls, and you’re sorted.

Easy peasy. No sweat. And a smaller carbon footprint.

Recently there has been a veritable explosion in the number of money apps/ digital offerings trumpeting claims about teaching kids & teens good money behavior.

From budgeting and investing apps to digital debit cards, they proclaim to (choose the tag line that resonates most with you):

  • financially empower kids
  • raise financially smart kids
  • teach kids money…

When we buy any kind of insurance, we do it to cover our bases incase something untoward happens.

This might happen, or it might not. We still buy the insurance because the possible downside is much greater if we don’t. And smart people are all about reducing the downside.

So we buy the car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, disability insurance etc while hoping that we never have to claim any of it.

But what about the instances when it’s not a question of a possibility but more an extremely likely, presumably definite probability.

When it’s not if…but when?


This Father’s Day you probably spent a ton of money, most likely your dads’ to begin with, to buy him something nice.

And the sentiment is lovely.

For next year though, I’d like you to consider giving him something novel.

This isn’t something you can ‘Amazon Prime’ the day before…it will take time.

This isn’t something you can tie up with a fancy bow…though I guarantee he will notice it and smile broadly.

This isn’t something particularly instagrammable (this is hard I know)… but I guarantee he will love it and brag about it to all his friends.

This is…

Financial illiteracy should be a crime. That is, an activity considered a grave offense, harmful or wrong.

Look at the disastrous fallout, and the reason it should be a crime becomes obvious.

It greatly harms those afflicted. It has catastrophic consequences not just on their finances but on every aspect of their lives, from their self-confidence to their mental health. It is actively detrimental to their future success and happiness.

And to make matters worse, it not only adversely affects them but also their families who often have to face the ramifications of their bad financial decisions.

Yet..and here’s the…

As much as we’d love to, we can’t protect our kids from everything.

They are going to get their knees skinned and elbows bruised when they learn to ride a bike, or climb a tree.

They will probably have to deal with the mean kids and class bullies sometime in their school life.

They will undoubtedly feel the tremendous pressure of entrance exams and SAT scores when they’re ready for college.

They will likely get their hearts broken somewhere along the way. (I know, somehow this is one pain we parents feel viscerally).

Yet, we try.

We ensure our kids…

Alex Kearns 2000–2020

This is a cease and desist request to companies peddling all versions of get-rich-quick snake oil to our teens.

Stop it. Really.

Stop telling our 8-13 year olds they can learn all about Bitcoin and how to invest in it, in half an hour no less. (Yes, that’s the age group the company advertisement was targeting, in exactly the aforementioned time period.)

Stop trying to teach our 12–15 yrs old’s to trade stocks on online platforms. (Another ad.) Most of these kids don’t know the basics of personal finance and have no clear understanding of savings, budgeting or emergency funds…

I am all three.

Undeniably, unapologetically and deliberately so.

And that’s made me a better educator.

An Idiot:

I am often the resident idiot in the room (or on the zoom call), because I need the things I hear/ learn to make sense. I need them to be uncomplicated and easy to understand.

If the content doesn’t fit these two criteria I’m not afraid to ask repetitive questions till it does. I’m certainly not shy about being the idiot.

I often find that when things are complicated, it’s because either the person explaining it doesn’t understand it fully themselves, or…

If you ask most teenagers how they feel about school, you will get responses typically ranging from bored and disinterested to confused and frustrated.

While many say it’s fun and that they love it, what they are commonly referring to is their social circle at school and the interaction that affords — not the actual learning.

Pretty much no one says they enjoy the learning.

17 years and a ton of money spent to improve their intellectual capabilities, and their fondest memories are hanging out with their BFF.

Does anyone else see a gaping hole here? …

Vaccines are miracle of science.

They handily beat all other medical procedures in lives saved and disabling illnesses prevented.

From poliomyelitis & tetanus to diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles and meningitis, vaccines have eradicated a whole host of crippling diseases from most parts of the world.

They are the frontline of our defense and maybe the single biggest reason for doubling life expectancy rates globally.

They are also all the rage now.

So let’s use the vaccine analogy to see what it would look like to ‘vaccinate’ teenagers against financial illiteracy.

Financial illiteracy affects 33 percent of adults worldwide. This means that…

Money can’t buy happiness, they say.

Let not burden teens with learning about money, they say.

Teens need to focus on their grades and getting into good universities, we shouldn’t fill their heads with ideas of riches and wealth prematurely, they say.

That’s a load of crock, I say.

If anyone thinks financial education is all about money, they’ve completely missed the point.

When a teenager carefully considers the cost of student loan debt, instead of blindly taking it on — that’s financial education.

When a teenager consciously pays her credit card bills, on time and in full, and avoids…

Marilyn Lydia Pinto

Founder of the Kids Finance Initiative | Rebel Educator

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