First steps toward financial literacy
Next week is the first Money Week, a government-backed programme sponsored by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income.
Believe it or not, enterprise and financial literacy are part of the school curriculum. But it is not a core subject and there are no plans to make it one.
There are some hero teachers who are making a difference. But they are the outliers – the 1%. The Ministry of Education has produced resources for schools that want to teach financial literacy (sample topic: The Real Cost of Pets). But any requirements to teach it are loose and there's no set syllabus as what should be taught.
In business we benchmark and copy the best, a perfect example is the billion dollar legal battle between Apple and Samsung.
I can imagine New Zealand being the first country in the world where all our children are learning real life contexts, the habits that lead to financial literacy as a core subject to break the cycle of poverty.
I use the experience of legendary investor Warren Buffett, who says the “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
Getting a tertiary education is no longer a guarantee for employment. There are thousands of graduates working as librarians or waiters. Youth unemployment figures are double-digit in most countries. This can be a fertile breeding ground for social unrest and riots.
Richard Branson says, ”Creating businesses in themselves can solve social problems. Because by being an entrepreneur creating a business you create jobs by creating jobs you can help take people out of poverty.”
Thinking outside the square is the only solution to the youth unemployment trap.
Sam Morgan says, “We all have ideas, so we all see things and think, we could do that better? The entrepreneurs are the people that crossed that chasm between thinking that and actually doing something about it.”
So what can we do to encourage children to take the first steps of becoming an entrepreneur?
Steve Jobs says: “You need a lot of passion for what you're doing because it’s so hard. Without passion, any rational person would give up. So if you’re not having fun doing it, if you don’t absolutely love it, you’re going to give up.”
Once children have found their passion get them to think of ideas of how they can make money employing their passion as a springboard to success. Talk with them about the dream of owning their own business. The next step is to get them involved with the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES).
Terry Shubkin says, “YES is a programme where students in senior secondary school have the opportunity to learn about setting up and running businesses. By doing it first hand, they create real companies, with real products and services, with real profit and loss. And they learn about business while having fun at the same time.”
Is compound interest and the savings habit the eighth wonder of the world? The 13 habits that made Buffett his billions are about how a boy discovered the tools that made him one of the world’s wealthiest people.
My best advice is to get your children started in KiwiSaver and talk with them about the dream of owning their own home. Get them involved and when the annual statement arrives show them the power of compound interest.
Lucas Remmerswaal is the co-founder of the Success for Students charitable trust. ASB Bank is accepting donations to help break the cycle of poverty. More information at www.13habits.org