Financial Literacy in School: What class of wealth?

Mark Twain famously quotes: ‘It isn’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It is what you know for sure, that just aint so’. Dividends, Securities, Interest, Property, Superannuation, Tax, Bonds, Business and Bitcoin. They are only a select few terms we hear when it comes to money. When it comes to the Australian adult population understanding how to take advantage of these avenues to generate wealth then pass that knowledge on to the next generation – the majority are not equipped. So, why do schools continue to ignore the importance of Financial Literacy as a key component of the Australian Curriculum, particularly as we move into the most difficult and complex economic times the world has ever seen, while Australia itself becomes one of the most debt fuelled countries per capita on the planet.

While students are pushed hard by their parents and teachers to strive for the marks they need to qualify for the career of their dreams (which may change numerous times) there is little or no connection to how they will achieve a life of financial freedom regardless of their income or job status. Financial literacy reaches far beyond money itself. Primarily, it is about changing the way people think about money, building resilience and decreasing dependency, tackles the image stigma, the importance of positive healthy relationships with money, intrinsic confidence, self-worth and developing a focus and realistic goals for life itself all in balance to achieve the ultimate goal of attaining a life of financial freedom.

MoneySmart offers teachers the opportunity to gain free basic qualifications and schools can apply for substantial funding whilst being provided with the resources and curriculum ready to teach. So, it’s a win-win. After pioneering and delivering one of the first funded Financial Literacy programs in Australia, I believe there are six key areas that must be included into the Australian Curriculum.

1. The Psychology of Money:

Everything starts with ‘why’. What do you know? What don’t you know? Explore their goals, ideas and perceptions and discover their ‘financial personality’.

2. Credit Cards

The evil villain. Yes, everything has its purpose. But, young people need to keep away, practice their discipline, learn the dangers and the outcome of bad debt!

3. Property

More than an asset. It is more than just a strong, long term money maker. Houses are homes that provide shelter, warmth and love. Learn and teach the strategies to get into the market.

4. Tax

Unless you move to Dubai, you’re not avoiding it. Learn the skills to reduce tax and make their future wealth work for them.

5. Shares & Superannuation

Diversify and grow their wealth. Elevate their financial discipline and create a second income. Find comfort in knowing they can retire in comfort.

6. Cryptocurrency – The Future?

They are not simply currencies. Crypto (Blockchain) could be the future of how we use money, the internet and keeping our data private.

Financial Literacy is not merely simple or compound interest we study in middle years or senior maths. Each human being has some form of a relationship with money – regardless of how they come into each other’s lives. But how well do we really know this silent partner. It can be perceived as one of the most beneficial yet most dangerous tools in society. Money is used as a weapon in war, it is a drug for the mindset and souls of many whilst it brings together and destroys relationships in the blink of an eye.  Whatever economic class you fall into, you should be able to run your own class and pass on your knowledge.

So, please remember the best investment a society or an individual can make is in their kids.

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