Preventative medicine has long been recognised as a successful means of improving the overall health of the community. My suggestion is that a similar procedure be adopted in regard to financial literacy and capability. My suggestion is that financial capability and literacy workers are funded to embark on a education campaign to school students and those seeking employment through job providers.
The course need not be overly detailed as what needs to be passed on to the students and job searchers is largely already available through websites such as Money Smart. What has to be passed on is that a good budget will hold you in good financial stead throughout your life. I do not believe this is being done at the moment. In addition to emphasising the need to take control of their income students should be warned of the pitfalls of borrowing money, especially from short term money lenders. Although our credit laws and class actions are making some progress towards protecting the vulnerable community it seems that the less scrupulous money lenders always seem to be able find a way around the law.
The concept of educating students and job searchers is based on the fact that many young people are overwhelmed when they start to earn an income. They believe they can afford whatever they want. They do not realise that there are many organisations willing to take their money in exchange for some goods that they may not be able to afford. And what makes it worse when they get into financial trouble there are the less scrupulous organisations willing to lend them more money whilst not necessarily fully explaining the ramifications of their actions or what will happen if they fail to meet the payments specified.
It has to be recognised that the younger generations do not have the benefit of learning from the example of their parents who were paid in cash, did not rely on credit other than at the corner store and therefore had to budget from pay to pay. In those days children saw the pay packet come home and the weekly or fortnightly expenses allocated and with luck some put aside for the proverbial rainy day. Today the younger generation see everything being bought via pieces of ‘plastic’ but they do not see the plastic being ‘re-loaded’. My proposal replaces what was previously a process learned subconsciously. Regrettably today there is a plethora of banks and other financial institutions will to give credit and younger generations do not appreciate the implications of borrowing money because their parents did not live with the benefit of credit facilities.
The cost of implementing such a program would not be excessive as the target groups are already by definition, assembled and the ramifications will have long term benefits throughout the community. Future funding of Financial Counselling is also under revue as it is recognised that demand far outweighs resources even though return for investment is very high. My proposal will hopefully see demand limited and encourage individuals to take control of their finances rather than have financial institutions take control their lives.