From education to employment

Teaching our way out of the UK’s debt crisis – 5 habits that young people should learn

Max Horne, Financial Advisor, Author of The Money Instruction Book

The UK debt crisis is increasing every year. One of the biggest issues facing Great Britain, yet still nothing is being done about this at an educational level.

Unemployment levels have fallen but debt is rising with no sign of letting up.

With the younger generations being hit hardest by issues that lead to debt – low remuneration and increased rents as well as pressure to take out store cards or high interest loans– they are given little or no support with how to manage finances or prepare themselves.

While the bigger issue that needs to be addressed is the fact that personal finance isn’t being adequately covered through the UK schools programme – even though financial education was added to the curriculum in 2014 – there is a certain amount of preparation that parents, teachers and mentors from all aspects of life can be providing too.

It has been proven that our experience of managing finances through childhood goes a long way in shaping how we deal with budgeting as adults and without some kind of support for the future generation, the UK will be set to rise even deeper into debt.

In order to make financial education a success, we to need to provide support to those responsible for its teaching. It’s often a topic that even the most experienced of teachers have not been trained in and its not a subject that is best taught through traditional methods – it is contextual.

The key part of building a positive conversation about money is reinforcing good habits from a young age and providing the necessary tools that are required out in the real world when all of a sudden young people are open to a number of attractive products on offer.

So here are five tips to guide parents, teachers and children in setting up a positive mind-set towards personal finance:

1. Make saving second nature

Get into the habit from a young age of saving regularly out of pocket money to establish good savings habits that will help in the future, especially for the purchase of major capital items.

2. Set goals

When saving, establish the need to use the different ‘buckets’ for funds.

Whether it is establishing a bucket for going on holiday, a bucket for purchasing a house at some stage in the future or a bucket for saving up to go to university or college, a key skill to ensure positive financial success is helped with the discipline that comes with saving for specific items and not just accumulating money in one bank account without a goal.

3. Healthy eating equals a healthy bank balance

When a student goes off to university or further education its often the first time that they have been away from their parents for long periods of time and the first major concern is, are they eating correctly? 

There is a danger that the student will spend a large amount of money on junk food and take aways and get into bad habits. Getting into healthy eating and home cooking before they leave also helps with the budget.

4. Don’t feel under pressure when socialising

The increased frequency of socialising for first time students is often thought of as one of the highlights of student life, but it can drastically take its toll on spending money.

This is where professors and tutors can have an influence by keeping an eye on the bleary eyed ones and perhaps raising the question, are they partying too hard and learning too little?

Students, again, can also keep an eye on each other as there will be a broad section of friends from different financial backgrounds and it is easy to spot the student from perhaps the more well off backgrounds, splashing the cash.

5. Don’t overspend

When giving the kids money to go to university/college, don’t give them the whole term expenditure in one lump sum but give it to them on a monthly basis as they would if they were earning a salary.

This instils the discipline of being able to budget properly, knowing that there is a top up coming at the end of each month. 

There will be occasional cries for help for an advance, and parents should jump in instead of letting the children be victims of cheap bank overdrafts or the temptation to take out credit cards.

Max Horne, Financial Advisor, Author of The Money Instruction Book

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