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My Money Week: Spreading the joy of budgeting and bills

Financial education is notoriously overlooked in many schools, but one initiative is trying to turn that around.

Remember the days of penny sweets? The excitement of the after-school trips where you would try to stretch your 20p – hard fought for from your parents – into a bulging bag of sugar?

It was often one of the first experiences of having to manage cash as a child, making sure you got your money’s worth out of the loose change. No wasting precious pennies on foam shrimps.

It is something of a dying art today. The contactless payment boom and the ease of online grocery shopping has stripped away some of the traditional opportunities youngsters had to witness money management in action.

One initiative is trying to tackle this. Monday marked the start My Money Week, a program encouraging schools and colleges to plan a week of financial education to help a generation which believes the average cost of a loaf of bread is somewhere around the £15 mark (according to this study).

Funded by MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis and run by Young Money (formerly the Personal Finance Education Group) the programme aims to educate those aged between four and 19 to “grow up with the life skills, knowledge and confidence they need to successfully earn and manage money”.

It’s a brilliant initiative, particularly as only 40 per cent of youngsters said they had received any financial education in 2016 despite government adding money management to the national curriculum three years earlier.

It is also something that should, hopefully, be welcomed by the kids themselves.

From personal experience a common complaint from teens is that they leave school knowing all the details of Pythagoras’ theorem without knowing the basics of how a mortgage works, or even what the difference between a credit and debit card is.

Having time set aside to learn the basics of inflation could be a welcome relief from academic studies – if done in the right way – for a generation that are far more switched on than they are often given credit for, if only we would provide them with the knowledge and skills they sorely need.

The main issue now sits with the teachers and parents.

In a survey for the Money Advice Service 80% of children said their family was their prime source of financial insight, but only 61% of parents said they were confident talking to their children about money and only one-third involved children in household finance discussions.

Teachers themselves have admitted to being less than au fait with money jargon and explaining this to students – which makes programmes like My Money Week all the more important as we try to improve knowledge on all fronts.

The programme is now in its tenth year, and with the younger generation facing growing financial uncertainties, whether that be over house prices or unstable pensions, long may it continue.

My Money Week 2018 runs from 11th June to 15th June.

Written by Louise Hill

Quill Head of Content