Putting kids in the know about managing cash

December 6, 2018

Wouldn’t it be great, we fifty-somethings like to ask each other, if they taught the kids about money in school?

Translation – we wish someone would warn our children about the pitfalls of easy credit, which leads to crippling debt and a dearth of savings. And we are aware that the “someone” should probably not be us, since most of us are already there.

In the UK, a charitable group called Young Money is taking steps to right that wrong and get some financial literacy knowledge out to the younger set. They’ve released a textbook called Your Money Matters, and it’s free for anyone to download. Intended for use in education, it also contains a teacher’s guide.

The clearly written, concise book walks the reader through the basics of saving. Interest, the book explains, is “a reward for saving,” but is less rewarding when you want a loan or line of credit. “It is better to save than borrow, because in effect you get paid to save, whereas you have to pay to borrow,” the book notes.

After looking at the various savings options via banks, including bonds, the book then focuses on how to save. Basically, savings can come from earnings, gifts, the sale of things you own and – importantly – “reviewing your spending,” the book advises. “Reviewing your spending and making informed spending choices can have a serious impact on the money you have left to save,” notes the book.

Ways to be an “informed spender” include price checking between stores, using coupons and discount codes, joining online cashback sites, following favourite stores on social media to be alerted to sales and “decluttering” by reducing unneeded fees, the book states.

The spending chapter defines “needs versus wants.” Needs, the book explains, are “the absolute necessities… the things you can’t do without” such as food, water, shelter; wants are “the items, services, or experiences you would buy if you have the money to do so.”

As individuals, the book warns, we have peer pressure that influences our spending – family, peers, our culture, the season, ads, and the temptation to spend “disposable” income left over after bills are paid. The better you know these often negative influences, the easier it is to manage them, the book advises.

While much of the book is focused on UK examples, the basic stuff on saving and spending is pretty universal in theme. And while the intended audience is younger people, all of us could benefit from being informed spenders, rather than uniformed splurgers.

The book talks about the UK retirement system which is different than ours here in Canada. It does point out that joining a pension plan at work is a great idea because “your employer will also contribute to it.”

If you don’t have the option of a pension in your workplace, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers a “do it yourself,” end-to-end pension system you can join on your own. Your savings are invested professionally with very low fees, and at retirement time, SPP can convert your savings into a lifetime annuity, meaning you’ll get a cheque every month for as long as you live. It’s a wise step to take for any informed spender.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22
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