Monday, February 21, 2011

Lack of financial education today

Today I was on the train coming home from an exam (which I passed by the way! Yay) and I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation going on behind me. I think the entire train could hear this conversation; it sure was not a private one.

There was a group of teenagers, that I think looked around 16 (they looked younger than my almost 17yr old sister, but a lot more street wise than her, she’s pretty innocent). It was a mix of boys and girls, one of them had a child, aged 1 or so. They were discussing money. More correctly they were discussing loans.

One of the boys had just got a $600 loan to get a tattoo. This made me feel sick, what was worse was before he even finished the one with a child pipes up ‘na na na na, I got more than you! I got a $1,000 loan!” I am feeling sicker.

Next they proceeded to discuss the tattoos they will get and how they’ll have to borrow more money to finish them. This sort of talk went on for a bit until half the group left at the next stop.

I watched them leave, as they all pulled out their smokes and I genuinely felt sad. I felt like that little child has a rough start and those poor kids have either not been taught or did not pay attention to anything about budgeting or handling money.

When I was in year 6 we did an exercise where we were give a set amount of money, had to rent somewhere, furnish it and our income was set at a certain amount and we also had to pay certain bills etc... Basically we had to learn to budget and live. I also did this at my high school, in a different state with different teachers. Interestingly enough when speaking to those where I currently live no one did anything like that.

I am not saying it is the teacher’s responsibility to teach kids about money, but in maths or social science practical lessons like these can be very effective.

I know where I live there is a very high rate of teenage pregnancies, very few people finish high school, most people are in receipt of Government assistance and very few people have any ideas about how to budget or handle their money.

That conversation I heard made me want to do something, but I don’t know what. I want to help, teach people where I live about money and how to take control, but I don’t even know where to start. I also don’t plan on staying here.

I have so many reasons to not help, but really, I can’t leave it alone. I really feel I need to look at doing something, anything. I am studying financial planning and once I am qualified I want to look into ways I can help. Any ideas?

4 comments :

  1. What very irresponsible people! Loans just for tattoos? It's not a necessity at all. I have noticed too that many people here in Australia are so wasteful. I have no idea what to do with them too, but on the bright side, I'm grateful for several items I got for free via Gumtree and Freecycle due to the generosity of people who like to shop a lot of unnecessary stuff. :-)

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  2. Is there a community centre near where you live? Perhaps you could volunteer to teach a budgeting/simple living class?

    I have overheard conversations similar to this so many times. I also find it really frustrating. On the other hand you can only help those who want to help themselves.

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  3. That's really sad - it seems ridiculous, but they just don't know any better. I'm sure there's a place for financial education in schools - perhaps you could put together an educational package along the lines of the simulation you posted about, then offer it to schools in your area on a contract basis?

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  4. What irresponsible loaners too! Crazy! No way I would loan money for a tattoo -- you can't repossess it if the recipient fails to make their payments!
    No wonder you felt sick!

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