( ENSPIRE Interviews ) Ashley Clark Creates Entertaining Board Games and Booklets to Teach Children About Financial Literacy
ENSPIRE Contributor: Michelle Bolden
Founder and CEO of Sense 2 Cents Ashley Clark educate youth in financial literacy with engaging activities such as board games and flashcards. Since the brand’s inception in April 2019, Clark’s products have reached the homes of families all across America.
The brand offers a wide variety of products such as flashcards and workbooks centering on crucial topics of finance including income, economics, banking, credit, investing, and entrepreneurship. Clark speaks to ENSPIRE Magazine about her brand and the importance of building healthy financial habits young in this exclusive interview.
What inspired you to create Sense 2 Cents?
While working as a bank teller I unofficially started my business years ago by helping women with their budget and credit. As I helped my friends, I realized the lack of fundamental financial knowledge. I also heard the demand of adults in retrospect wishing they had financial knowledge as a kid. I am a firm believer that financial literacy and good financial habits, like any habit, should be instilled at a young age. It is important to learn the basics about money and good spending habits to manifest the right money mindset in adults.
This led me to provide age-appropriate learning materials for my children as I wanted to bridge the gap in education. Through leveraging my financial expertise, I developed innovative products that are educational and entertaining for the youth that promote healthy learning habits and financial literacy. During one of our homeschooling sessions, I recorded a video of my financial homeschooling and posted it on Facebook. Overwhelmed with the response, people started requesting my flashcards and it naturally turned into my company, Sense 2 Cents. My next challenge was how to give real-life scenarios where these terms would play out. It was then that the idea of the board game developed.
Did you have a specific inspiration when creating and designing each product?
In an effort to make financial education fun and easy to understand, we have produced vibrantly colored financial literacy flashcards, piggy banks, budget envelopes, and a financial literacy activity book for children. I knew with the flashcards that I wanted them to be colorful and fun looking to get children excited about learning and the game.
Can you speak about the success of the business and becoming a six-figure company within a year? What do you attribute that success to?
By the time I produced the board game, the pandemic hit. Fortunately, this meant more people were at home with their children and had the opportunity to implement their own lessons. The pandemic was actually a blessing, the board game has sold out for the fifth time, and keeping it in stock is hard.
How do negative beliefs about money impact people of color?
It keeps our mindset in a state of lack and scarcity. We have to have a serious mind shift and show that it is possible. I want children to have access to valuable lessons that otherwise may not be available to them. In the United States, your zip code, financial status, and even race can often determine the type of education and empowerment you receive from a young age. Many minorities do not know how to teach these lessons because they have never been taught which is why I try to keep our tools simple and fun so families can learn together.
What are some things you suggest for people who want to change their beliefs?
I’ve always talked about the importance of an emergency fund and now people see the need for it. This period can be a teaching moment for our kids especially. At about 2-4 years, you can start introducing the habit of saving with a small piggy bank. Saving is a great habit that when introduced early can make a big impact on one’s life. Sense 2 Cents tries to make it simple and reach children at their level through flashcards and a board game. Otherwise read about it. Self educate. At one point people didn’t know where to start but now with access to the internet, information is literally at our fingertips.
Similarly, can you speak about your personal upbringing and how your view of money and finances has evolved?
As a child, I loved numbers, money and most importantly from an early age, I was taught how to manage money. My dad gave me a roll of dimes and that set me on a lifelong affair with money. I know that everyone doesn’t have the same love affair that I do but this was a total life changer for me. It was in my tenth-grade economics class, I discovered a love for finance and became enamored with studying the origins and exchange of money. Growing into my interest, I majored in economics during college and went on to become a bank teller.
When I became a Mom, I knew that I had to share this knowledge with my children, and after starting Sense 2 Cents it grew into educating children and families across the world. I believe I have a special knack for this and found my calling early on, helping kids make sense of money from an early age. In our American culture, one in every four parents reports that they never talk about any kind of household finances with their children. It made me think that perhaps the parents lacked the skills and vocabulary to communicate with their kids about money. As a result, I developed Sense 2 Cents to be that catalyst in starting these conversations with families and their children.
How would you describe the value in instilling financial literacy into youth, especially children of color?
We have to be proactive versus retroactive when it comes to teaching our children. Many times they don’t know how credit cards work or interest rates work until they are in debt. Children’s learning styles are all so different and how you can engage with one child may be totally different. Again, you should introduce the habit of saving with a small piggyback and instilling that idea into their lifestyle.
Can you talk about how helpful your products are especially to children (and parents!) across American who have had to move to home school because of the Pandemic?
Parents are enjoying being able to talk about a lesson that lasts a lifetime. At school, algebra is mandatory although very few people use algebra in their daily lives. Sense 2 Cents is a fun way to incorporate lessons during these homeschooling days and is a break from online classes.
What are your projections for 2021? Are you working on any new projects?
I want to continue to grow. I want to have many ways that children and adults can learn since we all have different learning styles. We are currently working on a cartoon for the second quarter of 2021 along with another game and an app—so we are staying busy.