Being Money-Conscious And Teaching Kids How To Be Financially Smart

Money Matters has infrequently been a lesson for kids & teens in school. Kids are not usually taught about being financially responsible or smart, and it shouldn’t be that way, instead, principles of sound finance must be taught at a young age starting at home. FUNancial Freedominspires kids, teen & families to become financially smart. For Shivanii Ray, who is the global face & community champion of FUNancial Freedom, the aspect of money matters set off her involvement in the project that helps kids take control of their finances and allows them to make, manage & master money from a young age! Shivanii’s unique upbringing led her to become a part of FUNancial Freedom and her passion to help kids & teens. She shares furthermore how her upbringing shaped her into who she is now and what she does.

1. What do you believe sets you apart from other 20-year-olds? 

I think one of the biggest things that sets me apart from other 20 –year-olds, firstly, I was raised in a very unconventional way. At 10 years old my family had to leave the United States and instead of going back to the UK where we’re from, we decided to do something crazy instead and we sold 90% of our stuff, packed up 4 red bags and we ended up going to India. I was raised in the US and my parents are British. As a result, that experience really allowed me to be open to not only a lot of cultures but, it has opened me to different opportunities, meeting a lot of new people. I was always also raised in a very entrepreneurial and personal development space because of my parents, I was taken into training rooms & events since I was in diapers! But I was always listening and taking in knowledge and it’s really shaped me into who I am.

This is where my awareness came from, that it’s not just about myself and my bubble of friends and community, but it’s about a lot more, it can be about a lot more if I choose to make it about a lot more and that’s one of the reasons from what sets me apart from other 20-year-olds, it’s because I’ve had this kind of upbringing. I’m a lot more aware of everything else vs just me, myself and I. Most 20-years-olds I believe are thinking about how to get through college, how to pay their bills, how to survive and not a lot of people are thinking about how they can actually thrive in life. My whole life I’ve been thinking about how I can do more, experience more, LIVE MORE.

2. You now are the global face & community champion of a company called FUNancial Freedom, what is FUNancial Freedom

FUNancial freedom is an education company teaching kids, teens and families how to be financially smart and how to really thrive in life. We found that one of the things that’s not taught in most schools is how to be financially smart. Money matters is really not taught in school in the way that it should be from what we’ve seen, even with that said, most parents don’t even teach money matters. And it’s a lack of awareness as most parents are struggling to just make it through. It’s a chain cycle that keeps going. We found that this is one of the areas (along with mental health and well-being) that don’t really get taught in the right way in schools or maybe even at home.

What we do is, teach how to become financially smart in a FUN and simple way. Money is something that we all use day to day but because we have this emotional attachment, especially with the crushing numbers of debt in society which makes money such a terrifying subject. But it isn’t, it can be super simple if you use simple techniques and just have awareness around money, let alone just having a conversation around money. That’s basically what we do at FUNancial, we make it simple, we make it fun because money shouldn’t be frustrating, it should be fun and so, we use animated content, we use real person content, teaching the kids and teens about money. We use what we call the LEAP method which is Learn, Earn, Accelerate and Play. So every month we learn 1 thing about money matters, we teach 1 or more ways kids can earn money, we show how kids can grow and accelerate their income, and we show them 1 way to play and uplevel their life. Some of the content we cover is our simple saving system-how can you save, invest and have money for spending as well as being able to give to others. We teach different things like, what are taxes and how do you pay taxes, the difference between Debit & Credit, Habit Building, Goal Setting and more. With our target audience, we have our animated content for kids ages of 7 to 12/13, then we have the teen content which is myself delivering the content because, at some point, kids outgrow animation. But even though we say the content is for 7 to 17-year-olds, we have so many parents that come up to us and say, we really love this content.

3. Why are you passionate about this project?

A couple reasons. One, I grew up being in the space of entrepreneurship, personal development, growth hacking, NLP and all that kind of stuff, but money matters had been an area that my parents didn’t really teach me. Money was something that my parents didn’t hide from me, but they didn’t know themselves what was the best thing to do around money because they weren’t experts in the area, they didn’t know how to teach about money in the right way, they didn’t have that themselves. And so I grew up being aware of money, being aware of what debt was because my family had struggled throughout our lives. But over time, after I homeschooled, I realized that this is something that just doesn’t get talked about, people rarely talk about money. Money should be a normal open conversation, it’s something that we all have to deal with, money is not some emotional thing that should cause you to feel stressed out.

Most people don’t think about money until they start earning money, which is really not the way to go about it. Everybody needs money, that’s why it’s important to learn about money because it gives you opportunities, but it’s just that, it’s a tool that gets you from point A to point B, that’s it, that’s all it is. If you learn about money and talk about money, you’re going to be ahead of most people, just by being aware. That’s where my passion comes from. It comes from knowing that there’s something missing in the school system and money is one of those things.

4. What are 3 things that kids, teens and young entrepreneurs can do to set themselves up for financial freedom or even wealth?

Number one- Just talk about money. Just start having conversations around money at home, start having conversations with friends about money, start talking.

Number two- Start saving early. A lot of kids and teens today view money in a different way, they don’t want to save money. They have different priorities than our parents. They want to be able to travel, they want to be able to live the lifestyle that they want to live. While I say save, it’s also balanced with: save, invest, spend, and give. Start looking at all of these 4 areas. If you start thinking about these areas and splitting up your money between them, then you’re going to do a lot better. 50% of it can go into spending because you will want to spend, you will want to take a flight somewhere, buy food etc..  20% can go into investing, 20% can go into saving, and then 10% can go into giving, which promotes giving back to charities, giving back to people, or causes that you support.

Number three- Start looking at ways that you can make money early, whether it’s a lemonade stand, whether you start your own business, a side hustle, something outside of just a job and the job alone. For me, and for several other kids who started earning money early, it doesn’t have to be like “Oh I have to earn money early, I have to do this, I have to chase it”. It’s purely coming from a learning experience. When kids start earning money early, they start to realize the value of money naturally. And they become smarter around money matters unconsciously. Plus it can be super fun! I would say those are my three main things that kids can start doing, or anyone really can start doing.

5. How do you define SUCCESS? 

So many people have different answers for what success is and some people say things like, if I have this amount of money in my bank account I’m a success, I created this business and I’m a success. But I define success as people doing what makes them the happiest and I think that a lot of people don’t think of it that way. Money matters yes and this is why we teach it, but you can have the most amount of money in the world, you could be on the most beautiful beach in the world, you could have a yacht and live in fancy hotels, do all that but if you’re not happy It’s going to be pointless, it’s not worth it. I think it’s a balance between, yes we teach about money because money is something that is important to learn and to be aware of, to be smart around because it can be a struggle if you’re not aware of it and then you don’t use it in the right way. On the other side of that it’s about looking towards what makes you happy, it doesn’t need to be work, work doesn’t have to fulfil the passion. But as long as you have happiness in your life in any shape or form, and you create it and you’re aware of it and you’re mindful of it, that I believe is what success is. You can’t measure what success is just by monetary value or by fame and fortune. I think it comes down to what you feel for yourself in terms of your own life.

6. What has been your biggest challenge during your life, and what have you learnt from it? 

I think my biggest challenges have come from a couple things. One of the big ones for me was that, I went through a certain period of my life, I don’t want to put a label on it, because I feel like once you put a label on it, it can become “you”, you attach yourself and identify with it but that’s not what I like to do especially around mental health challenges, but for the lack of a better word, and just so that it’s clear for people. I basically went through a year where I was depressed, I was really low, and I had no idea what was what I wanted to do. I was really not myself at all. I am a super bright bubbly person, and during that year I was just not myself at all. And it was really hard because I didn’t know how to communicate what was going on, I just felt very empty inside. For a year I was basically at home, but after a year I ended up making a huge change in my life, and I decided to leave the US and leave my family and go to India. Even though I’ve been in India with my family beforehand, this was just me. I started a job there. The main reason I made the decision was to snap out of what I was going through and to get experience, learning skills that I would use for the rest of my life. What I learned from that whole experience was that, firstly, everyone goes through stuff, it’s okay not to be okay & it’s okay to be vulnerable. Secondly, constantly LEARN, just keep learning. Because when you’re learning you’re growing. Another thing, as a general life lesson, it’s okay to not meet the expectations of other people. It’s okay to not meet those expectations as long as you’re doing what you feel is right for you. I left school at 10, and a lot of people judges me and my family for that. I knew I was never going to be able to get a conventional job.  I knew that whatever I was going to do in the future, I was not going to need a diploma because I knew that I was going to be in a space where I was going to be speaking on stages, I knew that I was going to be in a space that I was going to impact others. I knew that I was going to be in a space that is different and unconventional because I am different and unconventional and therefore it’s okay, but I definitely had to take that risk.

7. What would you say to an aspiring kid, teen, young adult looking to become a speaker or ultimately grow in their life?

Look outside of the box. We grow up in a very cookie-cutter system, especially the school system. I would also say that, find something meaningful to you to have in your life. Find something you’re passionate about and speak about it and just keep putting stuff out there, keep putting yourself out there. For someone who just wants to ultimately grow in life, keep learning, keep learning the things that people don’t necessarily teach you, instead seek that information. Learn about personal development, learn how to up-level your life, learn about how to manage your money because if you start young you’re not going to have the challenge that most people face. Today in the world of COVID so many people could have been in a much better place if they learned to manage their money early on. So I’d highly recommend that for anybody who wants to learn how to ultimately grow in their life. If you start with money, it will allow you to open more doors that you maybe couldn’t, if you weren’t smart around money. It’s as simple as that. Money is a tool that can open doors for you and if you learn about it early, you’ll be much better off.

Being able to make an impact and change lives, perspectives and connect with people is something Shivanii takes pride in. Thriving and doing bigger things that may be unconventional for a 20-year-old is what she’s always aimed for.