Young Kiwis lack budgeting skills -- survey Updated

Tuesday 23 Feb 2016 8:24 a.m.

There are renewed calls for financial literacy to be made a compulsory subject in schools.

It follows the release of a survey that has found many 16 to 19-year-olds still lack basic financial skills.

The annual Westpac Massey University Fin-Ed Centre (Financial Education and Research Centre) survey tested almost 300 young people on their knowledge of personal finance.

The average score for questions relating to budgeting and financial management was 37 percent. The average score for saving and investing was 45 percent.

Westpac Massey Fin-Ed Centre director Doctor Pushpa Wood says "these are two very crucial areas for young people to come to grips with if they are going to put themselves onto a path of financial wellbeing".

"If they don't know how to budget well, they will not have money to save. And if they don't understand how best to grow their savings, then that will have a long-term impact over their lifetimes."

Compulsory personal finance lessons

Westpac NZ acting head of investments and insurance Nigel Jackson says the results underline the bank's belief that financial education should be a compulsory subject in schools.

"Every student should have a basic understanding of financial management by the time they leave school."

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell told Newshub: "Financial literacy is available for all teachers to teach. Materials and a framework for the curriculum are available and ready to go".

But she says it is not possible right now for the Ministry of Education to make financial literacy a compulsory subject. That is because it is not a "core" subject.

One option is for students and parents to lobby principals and Boards of Trustees to have the subject introduced to the curriculum in their school.

The Commission for Financial Capability was involved in preparing the materials that are available for schools to use.

It says it has been working with schools in south Auckland and Albany and will soon begin helping teachers in Northland.

Identifying risks and scams

The survey respondents scored the highest marks in the areas of identifying and managing risk and understanding their rights and responsibilities.

  • The average score for identifying and managing risk was 66 percent.
  • Knowing their rights and responsibilities produced an average score of 65 percent.
  • The average score for setting financial goals and planning was 56 percent.

Doctor Wood says "It's great that kids seem to understand their rights and that they are able to identify risks. It seems that this age group is much less likely to fall victim to a scammer than our senior citizens."

She says she would rate young New Zealanders "a five out of 10" for budgeting and saving.

"Ideally it should be closer to seven or eight."

The Commission for Financial Capability has a website called sorted.org.nz. The site offers a range of advice on personal finance, including budgeting and savings tips.

Newshub.

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