mind your money

PlayMoolah Makes Difficult Conversations About Money And Mental Health Fun

Founder Audrey Tan says that financial literacy and mental health are intrinsically linked — which is why her start-up wants to teach young people to manage both.

PlayMoolah Makes Difficult Conversations About Money And Mental Health Fun
Though the start-up was originally founded to teach youths financial literacy, they've recently started a mental health campaign to raise awareness amongst youths during the pandemic.PlayMoolah

As the saying goes, there are two things in life that are inevitable: death and taxes. Often, people are given little in the way of understanding either. But as fresh graduates enter the workforce and families begin raising a generation overshadowed by the spectre of Covid-19, educating the young about heavy topics becomes more pertinent than ever.

It’s part of the reason why Audrey Tan created her start-up, PlayMoolah, right after the 2008 global financial crisis. “I reflected on my own personal experience as a young person in my first job, and I realised that I had been exposed to simple concepts like saving, but had not been taught about budgeting or investing,” she says.

PlayMoolah founder Audrey Tan (top right) says that topics like financial literacy and mental health have become more pertinent than ever.PlayMoolah

Through training programmes, seminars, and an interactive online platform, PlayMoolah aims to provide kids and young adults with the opportunity to learn how to manage their finances through play. 

“Financial literacy is a very complex topic,” says the 33-year-old Tan. “It runs deep into the narratives that we grew up with, and what we inherited from our parents and grandparents. Our relationship with money shapes the way we make decisions.”

PlayMoolah’s signature programme is the Honesty Circles, a space for communities to have conversations about money — namely, what sort of relationship they’ve developed with it. 

Pre-pandemic, PlayMoolah regularly hosted seminars and talks with youths.PlayMoolah

Tan says that through these intimate dialogue sessions — which have since moved onto Zoom during the pandemic — people are encouraged to examine their perception of money. For example, to what extent one’s self-worth is tied to money, and the role that it plays in one’s relationships.

And it’s during these Honesty Circles that Tan says people are forced to confront their relationship with money, and chart a more cohesive path moving forward.

“The Honesty Circle illustrates how, when one’s narratives to money have been shifted, a path to change becomes obvious, recognisable, and realisable,” says Tan. 

In recent times, PlayMoolah has expanded into the realm of mental health. On Instagram, they’ve started a new ‘Mental Fitness Toolkit’ series, which features educational articles and IG Live talks on how to regulate one’s emotional wellbeing. Each are accompanied by helpful calls to action — for example, breathing exercises or simple mantras.

The two issues — mental health and financial literacy — aren’t as disparate as one might think. Money remains one of the biggest and most common stressors for young adults today, and inadequate financial literacy can lead to spiralling mental health: a tar pit that often traps the underprivileged into a never-ending vicious cycle.

Which is why educating people about these topics becomes especially pertinent during a financial crisis like the one the world is currently facing, says Tan. 

“Our goal is to equip the current generation with the skills and know-how to build the resilience that will help to open opportunities for each person,” she says.

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