At what age do children begin learning personal finance at school? Oh yeah…… they don’t. Well, not to a level that prepares them for adult life anyway.
And did you know that most of our money attitudes are developed by age 7? So it’s never too early (or too late) to learn about personal finance.
There is some noise coming from within financial services to encourage the uptake of financial education as part of the school curriculum and initiatives like My Personal Finance Skills from the Personal Finance Society (PFS) are beginning to help.
The PFS has created a network of experienced and specially trained ‘Education Champions’ who are running sessions in secondary schools, but there’s an awful lot of classes to get around and it can be difficult for schools to allocate time and to arrange the logistics. If you work in a secondary school in Edinburgh and the Lothians and would like sessions like this in your school, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take action as a parent or carer
The good news is that more and more educational resources are becoming available for kids (and adults) to learn how to manage money, avoid financial scams and generally prepare for a more secure future.
The government’s Money Advice Service has some greater pointers and a series of short, snappy videos to help with ideas for money discussions with your kids.
And if you’re able to pay a few quid for a more structured and comprehensive learning programme, Moneyready is worth a look. Founder, Helen Driver, provides this service to enable teachers and parents to provide a fun and interactive series of modules for 7 to 18 year-olds.
I caught up with Helen, AKA Miss Moneyready, to ask what inspired her to put so much effort into creating this service. She told me:
Well, I can relate to that. It was many, many years after leaving school that I began to truly understand money – even though I started working in a bank straight away at age 17!
Moneyready allows you to track your kids’ progress through gamified modules ranging from the basics of money, savings, budgeting and borrowing, right through to pensions, business, fraud and the “gift of giving”.
At a discounted rate of £18 for a year’s subscription for the family, this could be a valuable and stress-free addition to home schooling during the Covid lockdown.
Investing for children
2021 sees the first maturities of Child Trust Funds. You may remember these were introduced by the government 18 years ago, where vouchers were provided for children born between 1st September 2002 and 2nd January 2011.
Young people turning 18 this year will gain access to this money on their birthday, so it’s a good time to discuss options. What they have available to spend or save will depend on whether family contributed more than just the original government contribution and on how much the fund has grown. Growth will depend on whether the money was placed in a cash account or a stocks and shares version.
You’ll find more information about Child Trusts Funds here, including whether you should consider switching them across to a Junior ISA (Individual Savings Account).
Sometimes, the options available can be confusing and the thought of investing in stock market related funds can be daunting. Whilst there’s tons of information available for free on the internet, not everyone has the time or inclination to wade through pages of text to try and decipher what it all means.
An increasing community of financial coaches throughout the UK is helping to fill this gap. People need straight forward help to understand their options and to build confidence in making wise financial decisions. Financial Coaching services like GroWiser have no products to sell and no commission to make, so it’s different to traditional financial advice and the focus of the service should be on you – not on your money.
Maybe a combination of online learning and financial coaching could be the answer to financial literacy and confidence for the whole family?