When I conduct an interview, I usually pose the questions; but with Tiffany Oon, she was quick to steer the objective of our conversation with a question in return: \u201cDid your parents teach you about money when you were a child?\u201d Urm\u2026 not really? I could almost hear her thoughts go, 'BINGO'! \u201cWe all learn from mistakes, and more often than not, our own mistakes. Our parents didn\u2019t teach us, and it\u2019s not taught in school. Therefore, we don\u2019t talk about money, and we don\u2019t ask about pay because it is considered a private thing, but that also creates a lot of inequality in the workplace. So, how do we know if we are underpaid?\u201d the mother-of-one asked. Tiffany with her husband, Kyle, and two-year-old son, Jedidiah Honestly, most of us don\u2019t. Hence, to shred the mystery behind the hush-hush topic, Tiffany\u2019s husband, Kyle Tan, runs a financial literacy program for kids that started as a franchise for an American company. Little Tauke teaches kids about money through experiential learning and play. These programs are made for children five years and older. So, while she waits for her two-year-old, Jedi (short for Jedidiah) to be enrolled in her husband\u2019s program, she has started educating him about the value of money. But, aren\u2019t toddlers too young? Tiffany believes that financial literacy as a life skill is learned really late in life. Too late, maybe, because the best way to get the most out of investing is to start early. Can you imagine the difference between saving as an adult compared to saving at five years old and investing at ten? Therefore, no - there is no such thing as too young when it comes to acquiring financial knowledge. Photo credit: Pixabay Speaking from real-life experiences, when her husband first graduated, he bought a new car. Although his parents paid the down payment, he did not realise that the financial toll to service the hire purchase loan would be quite bad. On top of PTPTN, the budget was really tight. \u201cNow, if he had the financial knowledge, would he have bought a car right after graduating? I don\u2019t think so!\u201d \u201cIt\u2019s knowing how to avoid these mistakes when you\u2019re older. Everything has a consequence. I feel better if my child learns the consequences of debt or make mistakes now, rather than later when consequences are dire,\u201d she said. By involving her son through modelling, Jedi knows that things don\u2019t appear out of thin air but must be bought from a store. When he was only a year old, he could already grasp the concept of paying for items. How do parents start teaching their toddlers about money? \u201cMoney has never been an \u2018off topic\u2019 thing in our family. Between Kyle and I, we talk about it, talk about our budget etc. Kids learn through modelling and pick up things really fast. So the onus is on us as parents to steward money well and make sure we handle it properly, and he will pick that up as well,\u201d she said. For starters, she advises parents to teach children the concept of buying and selling. Model to your children how things are bought, either by card (debit, credit or prepaid), cash or e-wallet. Photo credit: Pexels Next up would be to zero in on his counting. Though Jedi can count to 30, Tiffany said that he has not come to the level where he can identify the value behind the dollar and cents. She has plans to introduce him to earning money once he has mastered his basic counting by allowing him to earn money by doing simple additional chores outside his responsibility. Why don\u2019t more parents teach their children about money? ABCs and 123s are important, and Tiffany believes money is just as important. \u201cWe use money every day. Therefore, children should learn that money comes from work. We teach them how to read, write, count, clean up, etc. Why don\u2019t parents teach their children about money when they use it every day?\u201d Another good counter question! How much do rings cost? We agreed that it is probably due to a culture where children must not concern themselves about \u201cadult issues\u201d such as money, lest they become money-minded or greedy. That assumption is exacerbated when personal finance is not taught in school. Basically, many graduates may leave university with smiles on their faces before being battered by the real world because, for probably two decades of their lives, they have never learnt the basics of money management, while the world that is capitalist in nature teaches the next generation to spend and show off. \u201cGiving them a head start is a bonus for them, but teaching them that money is a life skill is also important. If you don\u2019t control your finances, your finances will control you. So, teach them from young that this is a skill; handle your money properly, or else, your money will be the one handling you in the future.\u201d Photo credit: Pexels She advises parents to talk about money, even in front of the children. \u201cThe taboo around it is making the child think that, wow, money is so mysterious. They will eventually think that money is either a good thing, or a bad thing. It can go either way. Better talk about it now than be money-minded about it. The less you talk about it, the less awareness there is on it.\u201d What is the most important lesson a child can take away when learning about money? Many times, we associate money with the ability to earn it. I mean, what good is money if it is not yours, right? But Tiffany believes that the act of giving is something that needs to be taught when exposing children to money. Tiffany and Jedi \u201cThe first thing I want Jedi to learn is to learn how to give and be generous. Money is important, but it is not everything. We\u2019re coming from a place of privilege. We have food to eat, a house to stay in and a whole lot of comforts. I want him to be able to see that it\u2019s a privilege to have that.\u201d \u201cThroughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have raised funds and packed essential items for those who need it. We do not try to shield all the hardships from Jedi, although he only turned two in May.\u201d With knowing about and earning money, she wants 'giving' to also be part of her child\u2019s lifestyle. Parents can model giving to children by telling them about where the money goes when they give, showing them how to share items and asking them if they\u2019d like to offer a portion of their favourite food to someone else. Building a Strong Financial Foundation Being smart about money is not a talent, nor is it something you want society (and social media advertisements) to teach your child. It is not some kind of pressure for your child to be wealthy one day so they can live a life like royalties. However, knowledge about money can help them make sound choices in the future that will keep them out of bad debt. If they want to, they can learn how to earn money at a young age, too (the non-child labour way). Photo credit: Pexels Tiffany has shared with us that together with her husband, they are looking to launch a small business for their son, named Jedi Play (IG: @jedi.play) in the next six months. It is aimed to teach him how to run a business, from taking orders, counting stock, collecting payments and the like. They intend to teach him other skills that range from negotiation, talking to people and selling items, something that is not taught or learned in the classroom. Now, the ball is in your court. Are you going to have a conversation with your kids about money over dinner tonight? Read more interesting and fun stories on Motherhood.com.my!