Sparking honest conversations about money

Posted by on September 12th, 2014

By: Wong Bi Ying, PlayMoolah

 

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At PlayMoolah, we help young people build positive relationships to money, and through that, get in touch with the meaning and purpose of their lives. We do this by designing engaging experiences that empower young people with the clarity & confidence to make smart decisions. One way we do this is through our our life simulation app, WhyMoolah (www.whymoolah.com). It provides users with unique learning experiences that mimic real-life money decisions through a wide range of scenarios – from getting a first paycheck, to getting married and raising a family, all while balancing friendships and a healthy lifestyle. Phew! The app received a bunch of positive feedback, with users telling us how much it helped them recognise their bad money habits. One particularly insightful review came from Samantha, who wrote I’m studying now and currently mooching off my parents… this [app] really prompted me to understand how expensive life really is.” We were proud that we prompted our users to reflect on their money behaviours, but when we asked them what they were doing about it, it seemed that the answer was usually äóěnothingäóť. People told us that it was hard for them to hold themselves accountable for their lack of actions. After probing further, it turned out that most of them thought money was a taboo topic and could discuss it with others. We realised that since our users were facing the same problem, we could connect the dots and take our learnings to the community. Thatäó»s when we founded Honesty Circles, a monthly gathering for people to talk about their relationships with money. These are safe, open spaces for us to reflect and journey together in discovering the unspoken role that money has in their lives. Our hypothesis was that it wasnäó»t just that people didnäó»t know how to manage money, but from more deep-seated emotions, such as envy, greed and security. From there, the team brainstormed a list of topics that would get to the heart of these issues – including can money buy security spending and my principles and judgement and being judgemental. On a clear Thursday evening in Singapore in the April of 2014, 20 people gathered at The Hub to participate in the first Honesty Circle. The theme for the night was äóěDoes my self worth fluctuate with money and the ground rules were set for the first part of the conversation – no crosstalk, no judgements and keep your sharing focused on your experience. As the sharing went around the room, the refreshing honesty flowed, as we saw people nodding to what someone else said. The Circle then broke into smaller groups as the team led discussions that were grounded in the reflections. At the end of the session, our participants wrote down one gift they had taken away from their time and an action they would take to share this gift. Hereäó»s one that the team continues to be inspired by: I have learned the gift of listening and honoring different perspectives about money and self-worth. I will share this gift with the universe by listening without passing judgement on any perspective I hear, no matter who it comes from, nor will I judge myself for any perceived scarcity or abundance. In the short 3 months since its founding, Honesty Circles have rippled around the world, being held in Silicon Valley, Washington DC and San Francisco. In each of the Circles, we have seen the small steps that people have begun to take in their journey of inner transformation with a community. We’re only beginning to see the impact of seeding a community that is open to talking about money in a safe, open space. We can’t wait to see what’s in store and we invite you to start a Circle of your own to join in the conversation.