Thursday, 8 October 2015

Show me the money!


One of the things I was taught whilst growing up was that it's not the done thing to talk about money. Never acceptable, always tacky. And yet here I am, about to break this rule. (Sorry, Mum.) I do think this is kind of important, though. 

I left school with absolutely no knowledge of personal finance. I mean sure, I'd studied GCSE Mathematics, but that was always more about Pythagoras and quadratic equations than pensions and investments. We'd also spent plenty of Focus Days (I think that was an early form of PSHE) on things like deciding on colleges and career paths (all I remember about this is having to fill in some survey on a weird little computer program called Kudos which then told you what to go away and research, as this was before the days of prolific internet connections). But nothing about how to actually manage your money to survive in the big, wide world. 

A lot of things have changed since I was at school. but according to this article in the Independent, it would seem that this isn't one of them. According to research done by MyVoucherCodes, 65% of the people they surveyed said that young people do not receive enough education about debt management during their time in the UK education system.

I left school with no idea about how to budget and it's something that a lot of people (myself included to some extent) have to learn the hard way. That said, by the time I was at Uni I was shocked when some of my friends would receive a student loan payment and spend it right away and then be out of cash and having to try and borrow money from people to see them through. 

It would scare me to not know how I was going to pay for something, but I guess I've always had it drummed into me that you don't buy things unless you can afford them. (And it didn't take me long to decide that I'd prefer to spend my money on a pair of shoes than a night out, which wouldn't likely even be remembered the following day). I've never borrowed money nor taken out credit or store cards as I just can't see the benefit, (not to mention not being convinced I could trust myself to walk past a Louboutin store and resist the temptation of a credit card in my purse!). But I know a lot of people who haven't resisted the lure of easy credit, or pay day loans and have ended up getting into all kinds of bother. 

I genuinely think that finding time in the school curriculum to teach people about managing their money from a young age could save them all kinds of trouble in the long run. Running various businesses has taught me about certain financial aspects, but I still know nothing about pensions (nor do I have one), for example.

Is there anything you wish you'd been taught at school?


  1. Yes, totally agree. If parents are bad with money and schools don't teach the children how to budget etc what hope do they have? I've been slightly rubbish in the past but I've never had to ask someone to bail me out because I've always made sure bills are paid first. While it's not something I wish I'd been taught I think schools should take the time to incorporate life skills in the curriculum, so many people move out of home without knowing how to operate a washing machine, or do a food shop, or even basic cleaning. My brother went to a special needs school, they had a flat annexed to the school where the kids stayed over night in small groups (with a teacher), they'd learn how to fend for themselves in a normal home setting and I think that's something that mainstream schools could really learn from.

    1. Oh, that's a good point, I guess how your parents / household deal with managing their money can have a huge impact on your thoughts and attitude towards it. I really agree, so many people go off to Uni or move out to live on their own with so little idea of how to do some of the basic functions of living on their own.

    2. I agree with both of you, that there is a huge deficit of budgeting knowledge in young (and older) people, and it is valuable knowledge, and it would be great to do it in schools (and indeed we do projects and investigations about budgeting and when I personally was in 6th form, we did a 3day business challenge which involved budgeting) but I also know how.little time there is in the timetable for anything else. We've had so much extra put onto us in recent years that there is no time for it. Why can parents not take responsibility for a change? It is always up to schools. I learnt about budgeting from my parents.

    3. I agree, teachers have enough on the curriculum already (that was meant to be a PS to my comment but I forgot to come back) and it shouldn't just be the responsibility of schools but if there are parents who don't have an idea of budgeting their kids won't either. It's tricky, it's obviously a big problem for some and when people are able to get credit so easily they don't need to learn the value of budgeting and of saving up for something. Parents not showing their children the value of money is really doing the child a disservice.

  2. Yep, completely agree. I know so many people who got themselves into huge amounts of debt when they were younger because they simply didn't know any better - this is the kind of stuff schools (and parents) need to be teaching kids.

    As for it being tacky to talk about money, that statement is one of my pet peeves - most people simply can't afford to have that attitude; we need to be able to admit that we're struggling and we need to be able to ask other people what our work is worth. Only the extremely wealthy can afford to pretend that finances don't exist.