The problem is that there are good teachers, and there are bad teachers — just like there are people who are good with their money, and others who are bad with it. Of the around hundreds of thousands of teachers in Australia and America, I can tell you there will be a few rotten financial apples. By sheer numbers. Teachers get solid pay, but nothing spectacular for the rubbish they have to put up with from students and parents these days. But the average state of people finances are even more of a reflection of how the parents of students handle their money.
While teachers should teach the theory, the parents should teach good habits and lead by example to reinforce those lessons. However, the problem is that parents by and large are incapable of doing that. And I think that is really the core of the problem. There are generations of well-meaning people who pass-on bad habits to their children. Some of those people become teachers themselves. With a broken cycle, there is no quick fix, nor longer but easy fix.
This is a generational problem. Even in Australia, with a national-wide curriculum, you can see the numbers of people who struggle to make ends meet and need expensive short term loans , despite living in one of the richest countries in the world.
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Nor would it immediately help the bottom line of companies listed on stock exchanges. Companies profit from this mentality, but society suffers from the cumulative cost to individuals. What would happen if people were more like Ellie and I? By that I mean that they remain frugal until they reach a more advanced level of financial independence. Clearly ours is an extreme case.
But imagine if people en masse tightened their belts for years rather than 20 or more , setting themselves up, and only them loosening their budgets? They just need to have their debts paid, and have some form of housing security — either a house largely paid off or investments in place that help to generate passive income that pay for their housing.
After that, they can return to their old spending ways. If people were encouraged to do this, perhaps it could shift the narrative away from financial crisis. Instead, I fear that those starting out would just see those who are older and have established themselves. They would want what they have, and take things right back to square one — where we are right now…. I think it goes back to core human tendencies to — on the whole — one-up each other. People simply have a short-term focus; they disregard the future and what they inherently know is in their own long-term best interests.
Many struggle with impulse control and delayed gratification. So they choose to get the loan. The educational system can certainly be improved, but parents need to also take responsibility. They cover many of the basics in an accessible way. Rather than play the endless blame-game for financial education, we all need to take responsibility for our actions. Only then can we improve financial literacy for ourselves, our children and future generations. PS: Do you think that the educational system is failing to properly teach financial literacy in schools?
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