Jimmy Rees pens new book Ollie and the Spectral Spectacles to teach kids about financial literacy

He’s best known as the former host of Giggle and Hoot. Now, Jimmy Rees has taken on a new role in a bid to teach kids an important lesson.


Comedian Jimmy Rees goes by Jimmy Giggle, The Guy Who Decides Packaging and now he has added author to the list.


A creative collaboration with online marketplace Gumtree, the free digital storybook Ollie and the Spectral Spectacles drops August 26 - and Rees says he hopes his tale of a child inventor with a keen eye for upcycling will excite kids about living in a more circular economy.


Australia’s nightmarish Covid predicament has our children’s financial future top of mind. It is no surprise that a national YouGov Galaxy poll commissioned by Gumtree last month found between 89-92 per cent of 1027 respondents consider financial literacy as or more important than maths, English and science. The vast majority of parents – 86 per cent – believe that financial education should be part of the school curriculum. And while his story features a pair of glasses with special powers, Rees says teaching kids how to be financially savvy and sustainably minded is no magic trick. It starts with wasting less food, eliminating disposable plastics and reducing landfill by repurposing unwanted items.


“Financial literacy is something we all should learn,” Rees says. “It’s not something that’s offered to you on a plate in the parenting manual. There’s a lot of stuff around eating, sleeping, getting your kids to school – then when they’re off to school it’s literacy, reading and maths.


“When you become an adult, you find out pretty quickly that it’s very important to manage your money.”


Finding himself on TV every day on Giggle and Hoot at just 22, Rees says he was “thrust into” managing his finances and was glad he had saved for things as a kid.


“I once bought a Nintendo with my friend,” he says. “We both saved our money – we didn’t have enough to buy it ourselves.”


His parents could have chipped in, but they didn’t – a great lesson, Rees says now.


“We had a plan, we stuck to it, we bought the Nintendo and every subsequent game we bought together. We only had one controller to start with as well – we had to save up enough money to even play it together.”


Circular economy lessons already abound, with millions of live listings across hundreds of categories. Indeed, collaborating with Rees to launch Ollie and the Spectral Spectacles is part of Gumtree’s sustainability partnership with Planet Ark.


Mum of three Anna Moore says her kids Alahni, 7, Jake, 11, Hallie, 13, already list their own items for sale during regular clean-outs.


“They know that someone else then gets to use those toys or books that they’ve sold and it doesn’t just get thrown in the bin,” Moore says. “I think (the book) is a great idea to send that message to children.”


And it’s not just buying and selling in their household – eldest child Hallie is already upskilling.

“She’s setting herself up to be able to earn a little bit of extra money and a skill that she can then provide to people in the future,” says Moore.


“I’m an interior designer, so Hallie is doing a sketch up course so she can draw my 3D renders. It is expensive to outsource that to someone, so she’s starting to learn that, which is good.”

TOP TIPS FOR COIN SAVVY KIDS

Who doesn’t need to earn and save a little extra money right now? Here’s how to get your kids in on the action.


CLEAN-OUTS

Kids respond to rewards, so sweeten the deal. Whatever items they sell, that money is theirs to put towards their personal goals.


CHORES

Old-fashioned word, ageless concept. If your kids want pocket money, make ‘em work for it. Older kids can wash the car, hang washing and cook dinner; younger ones can pick up toys and put books back on the shelf.


TRAINING

Kids become functional adults when they can live independently. Start early by teaching them to mow the lawn, rake leaves and unpack the dishwasher.