There are some countries where all you need to do is work hard at your job, and the state will take care of the rest, at least in terms of retirement.
Singapore is not one of those places. No matter how much or how little you earn, you need to take an active role in managing your finances, otherwise be prepared to work till you’re ready to kick the bucket.
That’s why schools are now realising the importance of teaching kids how to manage money. After all, it’s pointless to have an army of tutors coach Junior to a degree that will get him a high paying job if he squanders all that sweet, sweet cash he earns.
In fact, a recent news report revealed at least two local pre-schools are making running a business or managing money a part of their curriculum. While that might be a bit kiasu considering kids at that age probably don’t know how to count money or tell the time yet, here are four ways primary and secondary schools can teach their students to be a little more sensible with their cash.
Allow kids the chance to exercise their entrepreneurship skills at school funfairs
Schools are always using kids as free labour to organise events—funfairs, open houses, school concerts, you name it and there are hordes of kids staying back late after school to make the event a success.
This is the perfect chance to let kids exercise their entrepreneurship skills. The next time you organise a school funfair, have the kids compete to see who can raise the highest profits through their stalls and games, or better yet, let the kids keep a cut of the earnings. Kids will have to log the start-up costs of their stalls so they will know when they’ve broken even.
Offer support for finding part-time jobs
Secondary schools can teach self-reliance and the value of money by offering students and their parents suggestions on how the kids can earn money for themselves.
While some kiasu parents might not approve if they feel the kids should spend their time attending private tuition classes instead of working, I believe many families will appreciate the guidance.
For instance, schools can offer support on how to find a part-time job during the school holidays and produce a list of organisations that will hire students at their age.
Take kids on excursions to places of commercial interest
Most kids end up visiting the zoo or Science Centre countless times thanks to school-organised excursions. Ironically, these same students might have no idea how to buy groceries at a supermarket, let alone compare prices.
Excursions can be organised with the goal of teaching kids how to spend money wisely.
For instance, a class picnic could be preceded by a trip to a grocery store to buy supplies, where teachers show students how to compare prices (eg. work out the price per kg to identify the cheapest option) and make decisions that yield better value for money (eg. buying snacks in bulk instead of individually).
Conduct lessons on saving, investing and retirement
When I graduated from secondary school, I had zero idea what even investing meant, and thought retirement was something that just “happened” to old people.
The earlier kids learn about the importance of saving and investing for retirement, the earlier they can start, instead of squandering all their cash on blogshop clothes or whatever. Instead of making students sit through misguided abstinence-only sex-ed lectures, schools could give them basic lessons on how investing works and why you need to prepare for retirement early.
Singaporean students already sit through a whole lot of pointless classes like the propaganda-filled “好公民” (Good Citizen) Civics Studies lessons. Let’s teach them something worthwhile for a change.
How can schools better equip students to manage money? Share your suggestions in the comments!