Youth-led organisation helping students through rising costs

May 25, 2022

Youth-led organisation helping students through rising costs

Students at a Savy workshop. Photo: Supplied.

A university student-run charitable trust is helping young people gain healthy financial habits to combat the living crisis.

SavY says that a spending-focused culture and lack of education makes it difficult for students to have good habits around money.

“We live in a fairly materialistic society, where having the best clothes, phone and car is highly valued. So it’s understandable that young people feel the need to spend their money on these things, even if it might leave them worse off in the future," a spokeperson says.

“Financial literacy is also undervalued in our education system. There is an NZQA curriculum for the topic, but it’s generally not treated as a core subject.”

The organisation operates in Auckland and Wellington and has helped thousands of High Schoolers gain healthier financial habits over their 14-year history.

Their regular one hour workshops in schools focus on teaching topics surrounding the cost of living, budgeting and KiwiSaver, while also making it relatable for students through activities and discussion.

As the cost of living rises, a SavY spokesperson says their new challenge is helping students learn early so they are better prepared for the future.

“None of us can control these costs, and there are certainly limits to the importance of individual responsibility when it comes to financial outcomes.

“Having said that, the earlier students are empowered to take control of their finances, the better the results.”

Senior finance lecturer at AUT, Dr Ayesha Scott, says teaching financial skills in schools is a tricky issue as they may not be learning information that benefits their needs.

“Financial education is a complicated topic, because its effectiveness is debated. Research shows that financial experiences are really important for building capability with money, and it can be difficult for school-age people to be exposed to enough high-stakes experiences to make the education relevant,” Scott says.

“Learning about debt may be more effective for people in debt, which is problematic as we don’t know what we know ... the information needs to be targeted for the issues high schoolers are grappling with."

Scott encourages people to think about why they are purchasing something before they make a decision.

“Is this item going to add value to your life beyond the immediate dopamine rush?” she says.

Organisations like SavY continue to provide a safe space to talk about money.

SavY could not hold in-person workshops recently due to the COVID-19 outbreak, however students could still access support through Zoom.

It is currently working on an app so that students can use their content whenever they want.

“Small decisions made today can lead to positive outcomes in the future.”

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