What I’ve learned about managing money after a year at uni
University has been a huge learning curve for me. In year one, I realised how much I hated being in overdraft. I felt very unstable, knowing that it wasn’t my money that I was spending. Then, worse, banks encouraged me to open a credit card.
I have now grown skeptical. I feel much safer budgeting my own money. I’m not deep into my overdraft, deciding on whether to buy alcohol or pay for heating. In fact, every penny I earn goes into a savers account, and I only transfer it when necessary.
A couple of standout lessons have improved my money management skills:
1. A good example to follow.
My most influential lessons have come from my parents. In particular, I have acquired my mother’s organisation of money. She has a budget for almost everything. It frustrated me as a child when I wanted an extra fizzy drink with dinner, or an unlimited budget for clothes! But I have now come to appreciate the lessons it taught me.
2. A practical way of learning.
I have a job. It’s made me less careless with money and encouraged me to save more. I work hard for my money. I don’t want to fritter it away carelessly.
So on reflection, I suppose I’m doing ok. But looking around, it’s clear that not everyone has the benefit of good examples to follow or practical means of learning. Which has set me thinking:
What could be done on a broader scale to help and support more young people learn about managing money?
1. Shock tactics.
I will never forget a video in a school assembly. It was of a young boy texting and driving. He killed 3 friends in doing so. I remember a lot of students crying over the video and I can confidently say I have not touched my phone whilst driving since. There are many cases of individuals who are in serious trouble because of their unwise spending or borrowing. Are there videos about them that schools, colleges or universities could show? Shock! It works!
2. Guidance in school.
I didn’t receive guidance during school. I suppose it could have been incorporated into the national curriculum. My personal experience of citizenship classes was that they were too personal to ever ask questions or admit you cared. This could be overcome by one on one or very small group interactions. Money management simply isn’t fun and games and I certainly would have benefitted from school intervention.
Now, here I am, on work placement at ColegauCymru/CollegesWales, working on the Lloyds Banking Group’s money management project, Money for Life, seeing how a group of young people are being supported. I’m really looking forward to seeing the ideas and projects that current students have produced to improve the money management skills of their community.
We’ll know who the Wales finalists will be tomorrow. I’ll be watching!