In nine years of personal financial advisory experience, I have educated thousands of people from all walks of life about the principles of money. I have coached high-paid doctors and lawyers and advised workers with lower income.
There is a factor that unites the majority of people seeking my help - they face financial need because they do not know the basic steps they should take to manage, multiply and maintain their money.
I can remember the frustration of a professional who earns more money in a month than most Jamaicans will look at in a year when he carefully tried to organize his finances to get out of debt. I can not believe I do not know how to budget, he sighed, why did not they teach us about the money when we were in school?
Educating young people on personal finance must be considered a priority for our country as we struggle to find ourselves out of a major economic crisis. If we are to chart a growth course, we must ensure that our citizens are well-equipped to manage their finances, understand how to invest wisely and make the right decisions to keep their money for the future.
Last week we examined some of the lessons I wished I had learned at school, which included education on budgeting, spending, saving and debt management. Lets look at some other money lessons that would be part of my dream syllabus:
The Entrepreneurs Foundations
Unfortunately, our school system focuses primarily on teaching people how to get a job; it does not cover anything even more important - how to create your own sources of income. If everyone leaves school and expect someone to hire them, who will establish the successful companies that can hire others?
While entrepreneurship may not be an appropriate profession for all, I think we can all teach us how to generate extra money by providing a product or service of value to others. If more understood how to do that, they would not be so dependent on the debt that they met the budget needs and would have enough funds to save for their financial goals.
At the first level, the curriculum should focus on activities such as identifying simple problems and needs in society and teaching children to be creative in finding ways to solve them for profit. For higher level students, the syllabus must contain the steps for establishing a business, tax requirements, business accounting, marketing and strategicization.
This course would be very practical, with students placed in groups and actually running a small business during the period. Think of all profitable entrepreneurial efforts that can be released in our country, as our young peoples creativity is provided free of charge!
While many people want to earn money by investing, a lot of personal wealth is lost when people make inappropriate investment decisions. They also lack great opportunities due to lack of information about them. I remember that before I learned about the stock market, I honestly believed that people only lost money in this investment!
Secondary and tertiary students should be able to get an early education on how to multiply money by investing in assets. This knowledge would also encourage them to allocate some of their revenue in investment as soon as they started earning. Another part of the course should be guidance on how to avoid money risks.
Retirement and property planning
A large proportion of our population will never be able to retire comfortably because they did not focus on saving for this big change of life. There is also great ignorance about the importance of planning to transfer assets at death, which causes many beneficiaries to suffer unnecessary suffering.
Its never too early to introduce a sense of responsibility in our children about what to do to keep their money for the future. This will encourage them to get an early start on pension savings and to make informed decisions about life insurance and to make wills. In fact, they can help forward these lessons to their parents.
Money and life
A personal finance school plan should not only look at quantitative aspects of money, such as money management, earning money and retaining money, but also on qualitative concepts. While we want our children to achieve economic success, they should not be money-focused and forget that people are more important than money.
Education on philanthropy should be included to educate our children on the importance of giving back to others and society. Even the poorest child can learn that volunteering with older or less happy will reap wonderful rewards. It is also important to teach children that true happiness does not come from material wealth.