STRAIGHT TALK: Reading, writing, arithmetic...and cash!

Kate and Nancy Chapman
Kate and Nancy Chapman
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Now unless you’ve been out of the country – on a trip to the moon no less (!) – or walking round in your own little bubble, oblivious to everything going on around you for the last couple of weeks, you can’t have failed to have noticed the constant updates on the current European economic situation.

Now I’m not going to make light of the situation or dwell on David Cameron’s ‘veto’, refusing to sign the treaty agreed on by the other Eurozone countries, suffice to say I believe he did the right thing by putting our country’s interests’ first. But it was another news item on finance that caught my attention this week – calls for lessons on how to manage money and personal finances for children as young as five.

I have to say I can’t understand why this hasn’t been introduced before – after the three Rs, what could be more important for our youngsters than having a basic understanding of how to manage their own monetary affairs?

In this materialistic age – statistics highlight young women in the 19 to 24 age group as the most likely to bankrupt themselves as they bid to get their hands on the latest ‘must-have’ pair of shoes or ‘It bag’ being toted by their celebrity idols – lessons in how to avoid debt would do the youngsters who are the future of our country the power of good and instill good practices from an early age.

At the risk of sounding older than my years, I was always taught two valuable lessons regarding money, which I’ll share with you now a) you only get what you pay for and b) unless you can afford something and pay for it outright then you wait, until you can. The latter piece of advice, which has always stood me in good stead, taught me to work hard, value my money and when I could afford the things I wanted, it actually made me appreciate them all the more.

Not long after Nancy was born we opened a children’s bank account for her and when she’s a bit older I want her to understand the importance of looking after her money and avoid getting into debt.

Some of the students interviewed about the proposals put forward by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) were all for it, while others bemoaned the fact they have enough exams to sit already and could really do without another one; but I think they missed the point a bit.

Money makes the world go round, so the saying goes, so at the risk of repeating myself, personal finance is a lesson we can’t afford not to teach our children, if we want them to appreciate the true value of money and how to look after it.