There’s no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic showed us all just how little we know about managing money. This essential life skill is now being taught in some UAE schools, but even those who don’t know the basics of money management can benefit from what appears to be an explosion of financial education material.
Whether it’s learning to break the cycle of bad decisions, how to budget or save, or about investment and retirement planning, here are five innovative ways for UAE residents to level up their personal finance game.
Gamification has been used in many fields to make complex topics easier and build user engagement. Now, UAE teachers Simon Wing and Andrew Toward are bringing game-inspired strategies to personal finance with a new app.
Edfundo aims to be a financial intelligence hub that nurtures financial management skills among kids and teens using free and paid educational programmes – both online and face-to-face. It goes live this month, beginning with a learning lab, followed by an app and pre-paid debit card.
“Throughout our teaching careers in the UK and UAE, my fellow co-founder Andrew and I have found that commitments to tutoring kids in money management in schools are often hampered by the lack of appropriate teaching tools,” Mr Wing says.
Content for the Learning Lab is co-created by a group of multinational specialists led by Mr Wing and Mr Toward, featuring Bahraini-British GenZ Montessori teacher Tariq Nasser, Saudi FinTech and business development expert Saleh AlHammad, and children’s learning author and former finance executive Will Rainey.
In the app, children can track spending and saving, complete tasks to earn rewards, and work towards longer-term wishlist goals. Similarly, the lab can help families discuss finances at home.
“The Edfundo Learning Lab will help plug the gap at home, online and in the classroom. In tandem, the smart money management app and pre-paid debit card will allow youngsters to put their learning into immediate practice,” Mr Wing says.
Students at The Aquila School in Dubai will be among the first to have access to Edfundo through a separate initiative for schools, but anyone will be able to download Edfundo from the app stores.
Best for: Children and teens
Availability: iOs and Play Store as of mid-March. Join the waiting list here.
READ: How to Money: Your Ultimate Visual Guide to the Basics of Finance by Jean Chatzky and Kathryn Tuggle
It’s the lesson we never learnt in school, the class nobody ever taught. Jean Chatzky and Kathryn Tuggle break down complex subjects such as working out a budget (and living by it), what credit is and how to navigate your first credit card, how to avoid building up student debt and even getting your first job – including how to write a decent resume.
“Money doesn’t come with an instruction manual,” the authors write in the introduction to the book.
“Your financial journey is your own. You are always in control of your financial relationship with money … The important thing is that we educate ourselves so the decisions we make around money can be as empowered as they possibly can be.”
Both authors are experienced financial journalists – Ms Chatzky has even been on The Oprah Winfrey Show – so the advice here is well-researched and properly sourced.
Using the stories of successful people and offering tweet-sized advice in a visual-led format, it’s also one of the few finance books that caters to the way we consume information now.
Scheduled for release in May, the book aims to help teenagers and young people lay a financial foundation that they can build on later. But with chapters on investing like a pro, understanding the financial pitfalls of social media, it’s also suitable for those whose only exposure to personal finance comes from the school of hard knocks.
Best for: Teens and anyone else
Availability: Macmillan; from $12.99 as an e-book.
LEARN: Your Juno
UK-based financial information platform Your Juno aims to explain personal finance and economics to women, girls and non-binary people – with a focus on including people of colour.
Its founders, sisters Alexia and Margot de Broglie, say they were inspired by conversations they were having with friends at the start of the pandemic: men were talking about cryptocurrency investments and bragging about their returns, but women were never speaking about investing.
The differences led them to launch an app and online platform that offers gamified content and short-form video courses led by notable money experts, including Selina Flavius, author of Black Girl Finance: Let’s Talk About Money.
Information is usually presented in the form of snackable slideshows using flashcards to replicate the user experience of apps such as Duolingo or Brainscape.
Within the app, users can complete bite-sized courses to learn about budgeting, accounts, financial planning or emergency funds.
On its website, Your Juno publishes blogs that demystify asset classes such as Bitcoin and climate-friendly investments, or that may simply be explainers about rising house prices or the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement.
The platform also runs online workshops on topics such as financial self-care and investing in cryptocurrencies.
The start-up recently closed a funding round of $2.2 million led by London-based InReach Ventures with participation from predominantly female angel investors, including investment bankers and financial industry professionals.
“Financial information, whether that be via mainstream media or how children are taught about money, is still delivered through a gendered lens. Women are more likely to be targeted with articles about spending less, whereas men are more likely to be targeted with articles related to investments,” the sisters say.
“The impact of this is women’s financial education is always skewed away from their interests and needs. Gen Z’s interest in personal finance has skyrocketed since the pandemic and we want to make sure our generation is getting content that speaks directly to their experience and represents them as a diverse group.”
Best for: Early-career professionals.
Availability: iOs and Play stores; YourJuno.co
LISTEN: Traders’ Insight Radio
There’s already a staggering amount of financial content online, but much of it is targeted towards people starting out on their financial journeys. For those with some understanding of investment, Interactive Brokers recently launched Traders’ Insight Radio, a new podcast series that will gather executives, financial thought leaders and market experts to discuss current themes impacting global markets and trading.
Recent and upcoming podcasts feature a diverse range of topics, including how artificial intelligence (AI) will affect global economies and markets, opportunities in foreign securities, and the role of cryptocurrency as a new class of asset.
The podcast is part of IBKR Campus, the broking platform’s suite of educational material around financial planning, trading, markets and current events.
“We continue to focus on providing investors with the educational tools needed to improve their understanding of financial markets and trading,” says Steve Sanders, executive vice president of marketing and product development at Interactive Brokers.
“Traders’ Insight Radio complements the resources already available through IBKR Campus and is a new and entertaining way all investors can easily access and benefit from expertise across the finance industry.”
Best for: Investors
WATCH: Our Rich Journey
From side hustles to robo advisers, Christina and Amon Browning explain how you can retire early on their YouTube channel Our Rich Journey.
With half a million subscribers and tens of thousands of viewers per video, the channel looks at the couple’s own eight-year FIRE journey from homelessness to building generational wealth while living a new life in Portugal — and shows how you can do it, too.
Although the former US federal government employees are American, everyone can benefit from their wealth-building strategies.
A parallel with the Dubai lifestyle: high salaries that enable high savings.
“I don’t think we would have been able to make as much money and be as successful on our journey if we weren’t in California,” Mr Amon told local radio channel KCRW.
The pair also sell investing courses, but simply tuning into their channel is a personal finance education in itself. They also offer a number of free financial planning resources, such as workbooks and budgetary cheat sheets, on their website.
Best for: Retirement planners
Availability: Our Rich Journey