Knowing how to manage personal finances is one of the most important and challenging features of everyday life. It is a core skill in today’s world. It affects quality of life, the opportunities individuals and families can pursue, their sense of security and the overall economic health of Australian society.1
Young people today are interacting with money and making consumer choices from an early age. They are growing up in a fast paced consumer society where money is increasingly ‘invisible’, where there is a growing range of choice and complexity in consumer and financial products, increasing use of online and digital environments for shopping and making financial transactions,2 and where individuals carry a greater level of responsibility for the decisions they make in these contexts. Students who are currently at school, will also face a number of social, economic and moral challenges in their lifetimes that will impact on their lives and choices such as increasing global interconnectedness, both on a personal level and more broadly; climate change; the ageing of the population; and scarcity of natural resources.3
Effective consumer and financial education empowers students in the face of such challenges. It contributes to students’ cognitive, personal and social development and develops the capabilities needed to address their short-term consumer and financial issues and concerns as well as shape their social and economic futures. Students have opportunities to learn:
how to manage their finances4 and plan for needs and wants, now and into the future
the language of money, how to navigate the ever-changing consumer and financial landscape and where to go to for assistance
about the rights and responsibilities of consumers in modern society and the wider impact of everyday consumer and financial decisions
to develop a range of enterprising behaviours.5
National Financial Literacy Strategy, (ASIC, 2011).
Australians’ use of the Internet as part of their everyday lives for banking, shopping, education and communication has grown rapidly over the past decade. According to Roy Morgan’s State of the Nation report (March 2011), the majority of Australians aged 14 and over are now online more than once a day and for the first time, online banking has overtaken branch visits, with 45.4% of consumers preferring this method of interaction with their financial service provider. Furthermore, the increase in Internet access and the growth of Internet banking has led to a dramatic rise in purchasing goods and services on the Internet over the last ten years. In December 2010, a majority (51%) of Australians had shopped online, compared to just 5.6% in June 1999. This trend looks set to continue to rise.
National Strategy for Young Australians, (Australian Government, 2010).
Managing finances includes matters related to spending and saving; credit and debt; and financial decision-making. Students learn about strategies (including use of IT and online tools) to keep track of everyday financial transactions.
In the context of this Framework, enterprising behaviours cover a range of skills including adaptability, initiative, communication, managing and leading and problem-solving and the associated behaviours such as: working productively with others towards common goals, interpersonal competence, flexibility and adaptability, planning and organising, using resources effectively, analysing issues and managing identified risks.