Letter of the week: Teach students about money matters at young age

Personal finance could be integrated with the character and citizenship education curriculum, says the reader. PHOTO: ST FILE

OCBC Bank released the results of its annual Financial Wellness Index recently. What was most striking to me, but honestly unsurprising, was the finding that millennials - aged 21 to 39 - were the most worried about their finances (Covid-19 hits Singaporeans' financial well-being: OCBC poll, Nov 24).

As a millennial myself, and about three years into the workforce, I can attest that my personal finance management journey has been one fraught with much confusion, but also excitement.

I entered the working world knowing next to nothing about personal finance and how things like insurance or the Central Provident Fund worked, much less about how to grow my money by investing.

But I count myself lucky to have parents who instilled in me from a young age basic financial principles such as differentiating my needs from my wants, and the importance of always spending within my means.

Mentors and peers have also generously shared their knowledge and resources on the basics of insurance and investing.

I would have had a much earlier head start had I learnt these lessons in school. Lessons on savings, budgeting and how to manage debt will be pertinent to younger generations, especially with the rapidly evolving form of money - purchases can be made with the click of a button or the tap of a card.

This is critical in the light of the finding from the same survey that a significant proportion (48 per cent) of millennials spent to a large extent "to keep up with their peers".

Millennials, unfortunately, also take the lead when it comes to often paying only the minimum sum for their credit cards (38 per cent), as compared with Gen X (30 per cent) and baby boomers (22 per cent).

Perhaps, if we were more educated and informed about money matters from a young age, we wouldn't be so worried. Simple concepts of saving and budgeting could be introduced in primary and secondary schools, before advancing to more complex topics like managing debt, insurance and investing at the tertiary level.

Personal finance could be integrated with the character and citizenship education curriculum, since being financially sound and informed is undoubtedly an essential part of becoming a responsible and contributing member of society.

Sharon Lim Ming Wei

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