Financial education for all

Do you ever wonder why personal finance is not taught in schools? After all, money is that common thread that permeates every aspect of our daily lives. From young to old, rich and poor, money is the common theme. In fact, no other man-made tool is as pervasive. Yet, we fail to teach it.

And despite the great recession and enormous bank bailouts, we still fail to teach it!

Financial education is a core life skill

Could it be that it’s all deliberate, a grand plan to ensure we remain financially illiterate and unaware of the true cost of how much money we pay in taxes, how much we really pay for our cars and homes and the total length of time it actually takes to pay off that smart phone if only making the minimum payment on a credit card.

Or could it be something much more benign? Perhaps it’s because so few people really understand the financial system resulting in a lack of skill professionals equipped to teach it?

I think it’s more of the latter.

Financial institutions do make efforts to attend schools with various financial literacy efforts, but let’s be honest, while these are designed ostensibly to provide some financial education, their main purpose is commercial; early target marketing. And anyway, do we really want banks teaching our kids about budgeting. After all, it was us, the taxpayer that bailed them out so they can’t really be equipped to teach our kids about money management!

For years now, across the US, Canada, the UK and here in Ireland, there have been countless articles written about the financial literacy gap. And generally, when discussed in groups, on TV, radio and with parents, it is a highly emotive issue. But still, there is a lack of financial literacy campaigns.

Earlier this year, I launched a very modest financial literacy campaign called MoneyWhizz. Its purpose is to provide teachers with the resources to teach students (15 – 18 year olds) about the money system. The programme comprises 10 core lessons aligned to the OECD and UNICEF financial literacy requirements.

With €0 marketing budget (all of the programme budget went into developing a really high quality curriculum) and relying on the graces of the latest online freebies, MoneyWhizz has been signed up to by 15% of secondary schools across Ireland.

Teachers are seeking relevant content that is independent and commercial-free and MoneyWhizz fits the bill.

In terms of why I do this; simple! I grew up in a culture where knowledge was shared. I also don’t believe that knowledge in the area of personal finance should be used as either a marketing ploy or weapon to sell products. It should be used to empower our youth and provide them with a knowledge platform upon which they can make truly informed financial decisions. In the long run, we will all be the better off for it.

Please join the moneywhizz financial literacy campaign and help spread the word.

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