Published: 06/08/2014
Staff at Youth Service West recently graduated MoneySmart financial literacy course

Dr Pusha Wood from the Financial Education and Research Centre (Fin- Ed) Massey University, presented MoneySmarts’ graduation certificates to Youth Service West staff on Friday 25 July 2014.

The Fin-Ed Centre, a joint venture between Massey University and Westpac, is working with Auckland youth organisations to teach financial literacy to teenaged beneficiaries. Dr Wood says beneficiaries are the people who need these skills the most because they have “very limited and, in a lot of cases, insufficient levels of income and benefits”.

Recipients of managed benefits are now required by the Ministry of Social Development to undertake financial literacy training in order to maintain their benefits and youth organisations are keen to deliver these courses in-house.

The Fin-Ed Centre has tailored its financial literacy course for beneficiaries in collaboration with the youth organisations in the pilot programme called MoneySmarts. It involves changing attitudes to money, learning about budgeting, tracking spending and an explanation of the function of banks.

Dr Wood is already pleased with the results MoneySmarts has achieved. “It is so rewarding to hear people say things like, ‘I get it. I don’t have to be a slave to the debt or the loan sharks for rest of my life. I can make some wise decisions and take control of my life.’”

The centre has taught youth workers the key concepts of financial literacy and how to understand different attitudes towards money. More importantly, they have learned how to approach the subject with sensitivity.

“It’s important to understand the different cultural or family backgrounds of the people you are working with and to approach their financial situations with humour, while keeping the content real,” Dr Wood says.