Over Global Money Week, we will be featuring guest blogs from key stakeholders, i.e. the people who collectively help achieve financial literacy. Today we present the thoughts of Syed Kamall MEP for London.
Where did you get your financial education?
I got it from my parents.
I remember going round to a friend’s house who had got a brand new train set for Christmas and always used to get the latest toys. I used to say to my mum, “why can’t we be like that?” She would reply, “Look at the house we live in. We could buy you everything you wanted, but we then wouldn`t be able to afford this house. We have to prioritise”.
I remember my dad paying off our mortgage and him saying, “I am no longer in debt.” When I bought my house, my friends said to me, “Why have you only bought a three bedroom house? You can afford something bigger”. I replied, “I can afford to but it would take me much longer to pay off”.
I think what they taught me was the difference between knowing what you can actually afford compared with the amount of money you can get access to. This is a real problem today, when credit is so easy to get hold of.
How important is MyBnk?
Teachers are incredibly busy with lots of demands on their time. So, how can you squeeze in another bit into the curriculum? What is really valuable about MyBnk is that they go into schools and teach financial education in a fun, hands-on way. The children don`t even realise it is a lesson!
So, in one school I went to with MyBnk, they actually ran a bank. They ran the whole range of services from greeting people to signing people up, taking deposits and setting up accounts. I asked the students “why are you saving?”
Everyone could answer the question, from saving for university to one generous child who was saving to take her mother on holiday! The important point was that they didn’t have an`easy come, easy go`, or `it will just be there`, or `money grows on trees` attitude towards money. Many politicians could learn from these children!
If a bit of financial education encourages some of those children to manage their money responsibly, or even go on to start their own business, then I think we`ll all be better off.