Would you merit a money badge?

Central Leader - - OPINION -

The Brown­ies have just in­tro­duced a Money Badge.

Per­haps it’s not the money head­line of the week but for me it is as news­wor­thy as the Girl Guides move­ment drop­ping God from its pledge.

The God thing made head­lines ear­lier this year be­cause of what it said about our mul­ti­cul­tural, multi-faith so­ci­ety. The in­tro­duc­tion of the Money Badge says some­thing too.

What it says is that fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy is no longer a thing that just bank chief ex­ec­u­tives bang on about.

Barely a day passes with­out some­one with bags of fi­nan­cial mana telling me that New Zealan­ders have woe­ful fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy but I’m not used to get­ting that mes­sage from the Guides move­ment.

That says to me fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy has gone main­stream.

The Guides move­ment is ded­i­cated to de­vel­op­ing strong, con­fi­dent and com­pe­tent girls.

Our house­hold boasts both a Brownie and a Pip­pin (a kind of ju­nior Brownie for those un­fa­mil­iar with the lingo). Both are get­ting from Brown­ies a tonic to the worst things about ur­ban New Zealand life.

Brown­ies is the op­po­site of TV, com­puter games, iPods and sit­ting down.

And now Brown­ies is cham­pi­oning fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion.

I ap­plaud it, largely be­cause start­ing your jour­ney to money wis­dom early seems to be in­creas­ingly nec­es­sary.

De­spite liv­ing in a ‘‘rock star’’ econ­omy, mak­ing ends meet in New Zealand is not easy for a great many peo­ple.

Statis­tics New Zealand has just re­vealed that 41 per cent of peo­ple say their in­come is ‘‘just enough or not enough to meet their every­day needs’’.

New Zealand’s not the kind of place a per­son re­ally wants to lack fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy.

It’s never too early, or too late, to start.

Get­ting ahead starts to­day for ev­ery­one re­gard­less of their age.

A per­son de­cid­ing to work out if they are in the wrong kind of Ki­wiSaver fund is tak­ing a step to­wards trans­form­ing their fu­ture fi­nances.

So is a per­son who de­cides to use one of the Sorted.org.nz cal­cu­la­tors to see how much in­ter­est is be­ing sucked out of their life in car loan in­ter­est to feed their habit of chang­ing cars ev­ery three years.

Ditto for the home­owner who de­cides to read their home in­surance pol­icy to see if they re­ally know what they are cov­ered for or who sud­denly won­ders if their ex­cess shouldn’t be higher.

Or the per­son who won­ders if they are get­ting a fair rate of in­ter­est on their term de­posit and de­cides to look at what other banks are of­fer­ing.

Each decision like this, and the learn­ing from it, builds fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy.

Re­cently, I read Bri­tish au­thor John Lanch­ester’s How to Speak Money in which he said he learnt to un­der­stand econ­o­mists and fi­nance min­is­ters ‘‘by read­ing the fi­nan­cial pa­pers and fi­nan­cial pages and fol­low­ing the eco­nomic news’’.

He wrote: ‘‘The main thing I did was that ev­ery time I didn’t un­der­stand a term or idea, I tried to find out what it meant.

‘‘Mul­ti­ply that ex­am­ple by hun­dreds and hun­dreds of times and that was how I learned to speak money.’’

The time to em­u­late Lanch­ester is now, un­less you want to start bump­ing into Brown­ies who know more about fi­nance than you.

Photo: MAR­ION VAN DIJK

Out­door fun: A group of Brown­ies, Pip­pins and Guides make damper mix at a re­gional camp.

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