I fall somewhere in the middle: a pretty good saver but so financially illiterate I’d barely pass a basic lingo test.
The question for people like me is: Why did we get to this state and where do we start?
LACK OF FINANCIAL LITERACY IN SCHOOLS
The first port of call is the school. Although I enjoyed the math lessons, my penchant for solving complicated problems did not translate into smart money management.
I don’t remember being exposed to personal finance, other than creating a savings account during grade school.
Instead, what would have been useful would have been topics that would be relevant as we got older. For example, the concept of saving 20 percent of one’s allowance could already be taught in kindergarten or lower elementary school, while debt management and how loans or interest work could be deepened at the junior level. high school or college.
READ: Comment: Financial advisors on Tinder? Probably not the best policy.
Looking back, I would have appreciated that Principles of Accounting (POA) was required for all students.
Unless we had parents whose financial knowledge made them talk openly about money management at home, it was normal for many young people to know almost nothing about money when they graduated.
It’s something Chew Tee-Ming, co-founder of Seedly, a personal finance community in Singapore, sees.
“Young adults don’t know what they don’t know,” he says.
“Insurance and financial products are also not easy to understand due to their complex structure. It can cause anxiety among beginners, especially as they approach important life stages like entering the workforce or starting a family.”
READ: Commentary: Millennials need a better understanding of personal finance
Fortunately, a few financial education programs have been launched in the last decade to help young adults, such as Citi-SMU’s Young Adult Financial Education Program and a proven financial education curriculum at polytechnics and the Institute’s universities. of Technical Education (ITE). .
Even outside of Singapore, financial education has only just begun to make its way into schools. According to a CNBC report last year, 45 US states “now include personal finance education in their K-12 curriculum standards, though only 37 states require local school districts to implement those standards.” standards”.
But teaching financial education in schools is not enough, we must overcome the stigma of talking about money.
READ: Commentary: Why is China pushing hard for financial education in schools?
THE STIGMA IN MONEY TALKS
“Money can be such a touchy subject to discuss because so many people confuse their net worth with their self-esteem. As a result, many uncomfortable emotions are attached to it: shame, anxiety, and arrogance are just a few examples,” He Ruiming, co-founder of The Woke Salaryman, tells me.
Oftentimes, these uncomfortable emotions don’t come from tackling big financial concepts, like cryptocurrencies, or deciding which stocks to buy.
They come from everyday scenarios related to money, such as calculating the amount to give for a wedding when you are not close to the couple, trying to find out how much salary your colleagues with the same experience earn, and navigating the land mine. whether it is reasonable for parents to expect an allowance as part of filial piety.
READ: Comment: The wild world of pre-wedding photo sessions
Even when we seek advice from trusted friends and family, we may be hesitant to go into detail about our personal finances because it’s a touchy subject.