Would you merit a money badge?
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.
Outdoor fun: A group of Brownies, Pippins and Guides make damper mix at a regional camp.