It’s My Money Week!

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My Money Week

This week is the fifth annual My Money Week, which is all about teaching kids about how to be savvy with their money. MyFamilyClub asked Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group), to explain what it’s all about…

My Money Week is all about helping teachers and others to help children and young people understand more about money. As many as 4,000 schools and other organisations are taking part, which returns in 2013 thanks to a new partnership between national charity pfeg and Barclays.

It’s all about helping children and young people understand more about money

The week will improve young people’s financial skills, knowledge and confidence through special lessons, activities and debates, made possible by our free My Money Week Activity Pack, full of creative and engaging resources and ideas on how to teach personal finance to four to 19-year-olds.

This year My Money Week comes at an exciting time for financial education.  In February we had the wonderful news that after years of campaigning by MPs and pfeg, personal finance has been included in the new draft National Curriculum for secondary schools.

Set to be taught from September 2014, the new draft National Curriculum includes financial education embedded in maths and citizenship lessons.  This is a big leap forward for young people – and means that when they go to secondary school next year, hundreds of thousands of today’s 10-year-olds will start be given the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to manage their money well.

An urgent need

At a time of high youth unemployment, squeezed wages and rising costs for young adults, having the tools they need make informed financial decisions has never been more important.  A survey conducted by pfeg and Barclays to mark the beginning of My Money Week shows the scale of the challenge.

More than two fifths of 14-25 year olds polled were not able to interpret the difference between being in credit and being overdrawn on a bank statement.

More than two fifths of 14-25 year olds polled were not able to interpret the difference between being in credit and being overdrawn on a bank statement.  More than a third did not know the correct meaning of APR in relation to interest charges on loans or credit cards.  More worrying still, more than one in four do not know that a lower APR is more attractive than a higher one when taking our credit.  These findings underline the need for us to equip every young person with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to manage their money well.

What about parents?

The campaign for financial education is one of those causes for which it is very difficult to find people who hold the opposite view.  The idea of teaching schoolchildren about money is a popular one, with widespread support from teachers, parents and young people themselves.

One question I am often asked, however, is should it not be the responsibility of parents to teach their children about money?  Is it not the role of the family, rather than the education system, to provide financial education to the next generation?  My answer is simple – it has to be both.

Parents have an absolutely key role to play.  In this respect, financial education is very much like learning to read – we learn that in school, but it needs to be reinforced at home.  Recent research conducted by the Money Advice Service confirmed that adult financial habits are set by the age of just seven year olds, which highlights just how important it is to get this right.

How to get started

When it comes to teaching children about money, the best top tip there is for parents is to actually speak to your children about it!  Sitting down to explain the family budget can be the best place to start.  Involving your children in the financial decisions you make – whether it is the food you choose to put in your shopping basket during the supermarket run, which TV to buy or how to save up and budget for the family holiday – can make all the difference.

Parents have an absolutely key role to play.

This month you can also encourage your children to enter the A-Z of Money – our national My Money Week competition that challenges young people to learn more about money through creative writing.

In addition, parents can help with our wider campaign for the benefits of financial education to be brought to every young person by asking your children’s school whether they include it in their curriculum.  If they do not yet teach financial education, pfeg can offer free resources, consultancy and advice – and our team of experts will be only too happy to help.

In the meantime, thousands of schools have put themselves ahead of the game by taking part in My Money Week.  To find out more about the week and financial education more generally, visit our website and do follow us on Twitter @pfeg_org for updates from around the country.