More than 15,000 pre-schoolers are taking part in New Zealand’s biggest ever financial education experience today, as approximately 2,500 BNZ staff leave their day jobs and head out into their local communities for the bank’s annual Closed for Good volunteer day.

Closed for Good, now in its ninth year, is the nation’s largest single volunteering day, with the bank closing its offices and branches so its staff can spend time in their communities. This year, BNZ staff are focusing on pre-schools, high-schools, and retirement villages across the country.

BNZ has worked with education experts to create a specially-designed, interactive storybook, called Penny the Penguin, to help preschoolers understand the difference between needs and wants, and the importance of making good choices as they help Penny fix her sailboat.

BNZ staff will also be in secondary schools to help teenagers improve their financial know-how, with the help of My Moni, a mobile app for teenagers.

The app will help them practise making important financial decisions based on a range of familiar scenarios, such as buying their first car, as they prepare for financial independence.

BNZ chief executive Angie Mentis says the tools have been developed to give children and high-school students a “nudge in the right direction”.

“We know how crucial it is for young people to start out with a good understanding about money, so we asked some experts how we could help.”

The day is also being supported by MindLab founder Frances Valintine.

“It’s so important to talk to children about money from an early age in a way that grabs their attention and draws them in. Using technology to get financial messages across is a smart way of turning a potentially dry subject into something that is captivating. It’s all about designing tools that are appropriate for each age group, and helping people explore different real-life scenarios to see where their decisions can lead them.”

The range of digital and interactive tools are now freely available online and have been created by BNZ in collaboration with partners including the Auckland Kindergarten Association, the Retirement Villages Association, and numerous high schools across the country.

To download the My Moni or Penny the Penguin apps, simply search for these by name in the App Store on Apple or Android-powered phones and tablets.

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