Money-savvy children want financial literacy lessons in school

Kids want to be good with money.
Kids want to be good with money. Photo: Getty

School children think they are pretty good at managing their money, but most want financial literacy lessons in school so they can learn more.

A Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) study, and published to coincide with Money Week, also reveals that school children aged between 13 and 17 lead quite advanced money lives, with many earning incomes, making and taking loans, carrying eftpos cards, and even using credit cards.

One third of the 2646 year 9 to year 13 students surveyed for the Financial literacy of secondary students and its place in secondary schools study said they sometimes or often used a credit card to make purchases, though the assumption is they were using their parents' cards.

Nine in 10 had bank accounts. Six in 10 had eftpos cards. 17 per cent had scheme debit cards. 65 per cent had used foreign money. 52 per cent used internet banking, and 20 per cent used phone banking. 12.5 per cent reported they used KiwiSaver to build long-term savings.

Many were informal moneylenders and borrowers, with evidence that children were providing "bridging finance" to each other when they, or a friend, was experiencing a cash crunch.

Eighty per cent have been lenders, and nearly 70 per cent have been borrowers.

They reported themselves to be cautious about borrowing, though at the time of the survey, a fifth owed someone money.

Their sources of income were diverse, with only 34 per cent saying they frequently got pocket money, and a quarter saying they never did.

Four in 10 frequently had part time jobs. Ten per cent said they ran their own businesses. Six in 10 sometimes or frequently earned money doing jobs at home.

Advertisement

And, overall, the students felt they were managing the demands of their their money lives well.

Just over 70 per cent reckoned they were good at it, but only 19 per cent of teachers thought their little charges' money management skills were high.

But students and teachers did broadly agree on one thing: more money education was needed for youngsters.

Seventy per cent of students wanted more, and three-quarters of teachers said school should have a major role in children's financial learning.

But about half the students said they learned either little or nothing about money management at school. A third of teachers agreed it had a strong emphasis at their school.

Financial literacy is included as a voluntary element of the school curriculum.

Where it is available, it is generally because of a teacher or principal championing it. Often even within a school it is only available to a minority of pupils, often those studying economics or business.

Angela Clemens, CFFC Education Manager, said: "Teachers and secondary school leaders were almost unanimous in the importance of teaching financial capability at school, but only a minority of schools gave it a strong focus. This is something the commission is helping to address."

Clemens said the research indicated the barriers included teachers feeling they did not have time, lacked confidence in their financial skills, and a perceived a lack of teacher resources.

That was frustrating for Clemens because free, high-quality teacher resources were available.

She said it was not among the top priorities of the Ministry of Education, which was focused on the "long tail" of children failing to live up to their potential.

"It's not in the top five priorities. It wouldn't even be in the top 10."

There are success stories though.

The commission has been working with a cluster of schools in Auckland as part of the Upper Harbour schools programme, which has seen 3000 students involved in financial capability education.

- Stuff