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The Failings of Financial Education


By Simon Thompson
 
     

According to Credit Angel

,financial education stands as one of the most important factors of a child’s education, working to ensure that they understand the value of money, the logistics behind savings and even the dangers of loans, credit and interest.

Despite this, it appears that staggering levels of UK citizens are now facing extreme levels of debt, and teachers are pointing towards the failings of the education system as the main culprit.

According to the new study, the average person in the UK owes around £8,000 whilst a huge 50 per cent of all UK citizens are considered to be financially vulnerable.

These issues are thrown into more light as the report revealed that the people most likely to be in debt are 25-34 year olds- which comes as no surprise with the staggering increase in the cost of living, stagnant wages and crippling student debt- leading to the report to find that over 4 million people are thought to be in incredibly serious financial difficulties.

British university education is the most expensive in Europe, and with fees amounting to over £40,000 for the whole three years, mental health, stress and anxiety are on the rise amongst young adults, with more than 6 million British young people believing that they will never be debt free.

This concern can also be seen in the housing crisis, with nearly two thirds of all millennials set to be cradle to grave renters, whilst the housing market continues to function at incredibly high levels.

According to Credit Angel, students from the poorest backgrounds will find themselves graduating with a whopping £57,000 on their back, with the majority of students accumulating a considerable £5,800 in interest charges during their time in education.

With so much to pay back and so little in wages, it seems natural that the young would turn to borrowing and lending, a dangerous game when it comes to interest and fines.

According to Credit Angel, as of December 2017, loans to individuals have been increasing daily by a whopping £126,800,000, meaning that people in the UK now owe a total of £1,572,000,000,000.

With the Citizen’s Advice Bureau now dealing with 2,767 cases a day concerning financial advice and worry, it does seem apparent that although the UK is currently undergoing catastrophic failings towards the young in the form of the cost of living, expensive university education and unreachable house prices, more financial education could maybe be of benefit to many.

According to debt management advice charity, Step Change, 64 per cent of all people who sought financial advice last year were all aged below 40.

Couple this with the label of generation debt and there seems to be a few major factors affecting young people today.

Firstly, there are countless aggressive credit loan companies targeting the young, vulnerable and financially unstable; promising quick money and often failing to let the borrower know of the considerable amount of interest that is usually piled onto the initial loan.

Then there is of course the rise of social media, with credit companies working their way into young people’s phones to encourage them to borrow and borrow.

Technology also gives young people access to plenty of products and flash sales to purchase on credit, from simple clothing sales through to holidays and cars.

Lastly, there is the pressure of living and working in an incredibly financially unstable Britain- and with an uncertain economic climate often comes ill-informed financial decisions, usually from the young.

So, it appears that financial education, although not the ultimate cure for the economic failings of our government and our country, could work towards helping young people to make informed and well calculated decisions.

As of 2017, 65 per cent of all teachers believed that the UK’s current financial education system was ineffective, 15 per cent believed it was very ineffective and 0 per cent of teachers thought that the system was very effective.

Speaking from a personal experience, I never experienced any kind of financial education at school, nor sixth form.

First year of university was a financial nightmare and even something as simple as applying for council tax exemption in second year was enough to thoroughly confuse me.

At 21 years of age, I am still asking my parents endless financial questions, from APR through to insurance, credit scores and overdrafts, an activity that certainly entails a lot of embarrassment as I sit there stating that I have no earthly clue what to do with my money, or lack thereof.

It appears I am not alone in this, financial education was only introduced onto the school curriculum in 2014, whereas I was starting university in 2015, meaning that my generation, and everyone before that, missed out on the learning, having to understand the process through simply guess work and family guidance after leaving education.

Further still, although financial education has been introduced onto the curriculum, it is failing in many areas, with teachers agreeing in their majority on its overall ineffectiveness.

In a bid to tackle this, there needs to a further reshape of the system, voluntary classes for young people and active steps by parents to advise on financial security with children from a young age.

According to Credit Angel, even just teaching a toddler to appreciate rewards for good manners, teaching children under seven to have a piggy bank, teaching 11 year olds financial goals, involving 16 year olds in household budgeting and supplying older teenagers with in-depth financial advice before university can make a massive impact.

It seems that although our financial situation as a country is failing, there are some factors that can be considered to make young people more financially aware because at the moment, they’re clearly being let down.


 
 
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