Finance = money & money = sexy. If only my 13-year-old self had known that

money is the most important thing - financial literacy and financial education

My first memory of year 9 maths in high school is being teamed up with two others, going to the local supermarket  and calculating what food and supplies would cost for a family for a week. Let me tell you, it’s really awkward talking about toilet paper and tampons with people you barely know…

But that wasn’t my first foray into this kind of thing.  I’ve long known the value of a dollar.

Growing up, I literally do not recall seeing my mother ever buy anything that wasn’t on sale. When I was about 10, my best friend and I went to the supermarket to buy snacks and drinks. We were super proud about finding a 1-litre Coke for $1 and gushed about our frugality to her dad.

“That’s a good buy,” he said, and smiled. But when I told my mum about it later on? Her reaction: I can get 1.5 litres or 2 litres for the same price. Way to shoot down the kids, but she’s always been the bargain queen, and a blunt one at that.

Shortly after that I got my first paying gig, a paper run, and later on I would work TWO jobs in high school so I could buy an electric guitar and amp. I’ve always, always saved. I couldn’t really say why, as for years there was nothing I was saving for; I just knew it was the thing to do. Somehow my parents instilled that in me (thanks guys).

Business as a subject, though? I thought it was deadly dull and wanted nothing to do with it. Business studies was compulsory for a little while (maybe over the duration of one term) early in high school. You could then go on to do accounting or economics, and as you can probably guess, I chose not to do either. My mother is an accountant, something I thought was the most unimaginative and boring thing one could possibly be, and economics held no draw for me, either.

Of course, the older I get the more important I realise all of that is. Getting a grip on how the economy works is kind of a basic requirement of adulthood, I reckon. 

Knowing how the official cash rate impacts interest rates, for example – that affects savers and borrowers alike.

Understanding general business principles too, which will serve most of us well because most of us do wind up in business, one way or another, to some degree. Yes, even those of us who pursue creative fields – who in many ways would benefit MOST from learning what being a professional in a capitalist society really involves. I‘m in an industry trying to figure out how to make money to sustain itself, and understanding the market and customers is vital to that. And amazingly, I’m finding this is actually quite interesting – and challenging.

I also believe understanding finance from a broader point of view is invaluable. While I’ve never been hugely interested in passive income – I like my work and don’t have any ambitions to retire early – recently I’ve been thinking about income security and growth. It really hit home for me that apart from trading your time for money, there are only a few paths to earning income. Here’s how I see them:

  • Investing in the stockmarket
  • Investing in real estate
  • Producing products (presumably digital) that you create once and then continue to sell indefinitely, no extra effort required on your part

It would  have been good to learn some of this stuff in school, because, um, who DOESN’T want to make money? Everyone, even high school kids (maybe ESPECIALLY high school kids) is interested in making more money.

I’m not saying there aren’t opportunities to learn and get involved in this kind of thing. For example, there are student stockmarket challenges you can participate in –  one of my classmates did really well on those, making a ton of (theoretical) cash. But that kind of thing didn’t interest me back then, and in fact kind of intimidated me, so I didn’t seek them out. Also, it was all kinda nerdy and I was desperately trying to escape the pigeonhole of nerd-dom back then.

How things change. Money is sexy. I know that now. I REPENT. 

10 thoughts on “Finance = money & money = sexy. If only my 13-year-old self had known that

  1. I don’t know why they don’t teach this stuff in school. I love finance and I don’t mind putting in some time to learn more about it. But it shouldn’t be something you have to consciously make an effort to learn. You should be able to just absorb it through the school system, just like how you know how to add and subtract when you graduate.

  2. I agree that money is sexy! When hubby has a bigger income month I start getting horny. ~LOL TMI~ His income is variable, so give a girl some slack ;-).

    I think they are starting to educate more on money management in high schools but it is very important. If the parents are not good examples or do not teach their kids, how else will they learn? They will either repeat the same mistakes and learn the hard way or possibly go into hyper vigilant mode (probably the lesser of two evils but since it’s based on money hangups, can’t be that great either).

    Loved your personal anecdotes of how you learned from your Mum!

  3. Financial literacy is so important and it’s not thought early enough. If at all. I learned about saving and pinching pennies from my parents. But I picked up other essential financial skills from other mentors.

  4. Our moms sound alike! I’ve never really seen mine buy anything not on sale, either, and she always knew the best prices for everything she bought on a regular basis. It’s a very good skill to have! I’ve always been a saver, too. Economics was offered in our high school, but it wasn’t mandatory to take. It sounded boring so I opted out as well. I do wish there would have been a home-economics class offered geared toward managing money.

  5. I loved how your mum scoffed at your frugal $1 find. My dad would have been the same way.

    I totally agree with “understanding finance from a broader point of view is invaluable”. Like you, passive income wasn’t exactly appealing since I associated it with not working, which I enjoy. But from the PF community and reading PF blogs, passive income means financial security and the ability to pursue things I might not otherwise if I didn’t have financial security.

  6. Solid post! I love reading your blog. So nice to see another kiwi writing about personal finance.
    I agree that we should have more education about economics and finance and such. I think another tricky thing is finding out how to use this to actually change people’s behavior.
    Have a great weekend :)

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