One-third of the youngsters have trouble making ends meet (links to Dutch content). This is the outcome of a survey conducted by Motivaction that was commissioned by SNS Bank. Moreover, half of the youths worries about finances occasionally, while one-quarter worry about money regularly or often.
The fact that so few youths are able to make ends meet is worrisome, but I am, sadly, not surprised. I regularly speak with fellow students who have little or no knowledge about their personal finances. No shame on these students; I barely knew anything about it either for a long time.
How is it possible that young people have so little knowledge about their monetary affairs? Because they don’t learn about it in school! The responsibility to teach children financial responsibility rests entirely with the parents, who either don’t want to or are unable to teach them. Hardly any primary or secondary school focuses on personal finances while being able to manage one’s money is more important than knowing how to study, in my opinion. After all, if you are great at studying and land a well-paid job, it won’t do you much good if you have no idea how to manage the money you make.
Furthermore, why should sex education be a mandatory part of the curriculum, but not personal finance? There are plenty of subjects that could include finance as part of the course matter. Maths and economics, of course, but also history, for example (how did the Dutch tax system originate?). Or in Dutch language classes (reading comprehension: mortgage conditions) or biology (how do I cook a healthy and cheap meal?). These are just a few examples that pop up.
The lack of financial education fosters and perpetuates financial inequality. If we do not want children to be the victims of their lack of financial know-how, it is high time we ensure that all children in the Netherlands are provided with the same basic knowledge in school. Only then may the 10.000 euros suggested by GroenLinks (links to Dutch) make a real difference in the life of an eighteen-year-old.
Emma Mouthaan (26) is a master’s student of Molecular Nutrition and Toxicology and is also taking a master in Writing at the VU. Emma blogs on studying and finances on the website The Stingy Student. Previously, she wrote about fashion and food.