Debt stress reaches Australian youth

Almost 70% of Australians are dealing with a personal financial struggle. Unfortunately, their struggle is not as personal as they would like it to be.

The Mission Australia 2012 Youth Survey spoke to 15,351 people aged 15 to 19 and asked them about their concerns, values, support systems and activities.

Almost one third of respondents rated the economy and financial matters as the most important issue in Australia today.

Many young people expressed concerns their parents couldn’t afford basic living items.

Personal debt Management company Debt Rescue helps people deal with their debts on a day-to-day basis and Operations Manager Sophie Bright said this is not unusual.

“Children aren’t taught any money management skills at school, instead these essential life skills are being picked up at home from watching mum and dad deal with their money,” she said.

“As children grow into young adults, they notice their parents making sacrifices in order to make ends meet, which can be distressing for people that age.”

While it is good for young people to know mismanaging their finances can get them into trouble, it shouldn’t take you leading by example to show them.

The report also showed over half of the youth surveyed highly valued financial security which means they are open to learning proper money management skills.

Fortunately kids are fast learners and the younger you start developing their financial literacy skills, the better.

“They need financial information layered up each year in an age appropriate way, the same way the Life Education program does such an excellent job educating kids about drugs, health and how to make better choices,’’ she said

“It is no good teaching kids about money when they are 15 and have their first job.

“This is a great reality-check time for them, as they juggle scenarios such as how many hours they need to empty bins at McDonalds to earn enough money for a movie ticket.

“It makes kids appreciate mum and dad more,  but until they develop higher level money management skills than just living hand to mouth  they are in for some hard, and expensive, lessons,’’ she said.

Sophie recommends from around age seven, or earlier, children should know the different kinds of money – the money we need to spend each day, like bus money; the money we need to save over a short time for a holiday or new toy; the money we give to others in need and the money we grow to save for big things like a house or car.

Parents, educators and financial services professionals have a responsibility to teach children:-

  • Money is a part of everyday life and is unavoidable
  • Developing good money skills & habits can happen from a very young age
  • Modelling responsible money attitudes and behaviours will teach our children more than giving them everything!
  • It makes no difference what you earn… it’s what you do with it that counts!

For more information on managing your debts visit Debt Rescue or call us on 1800 00 3328.