Invest in financial smarts

By Liz Koh

Experts on financial literacy were beamed in from across the globe for the Retirement Commission's recent summit on financial literacy.

We know that financial illiteracy is a big problem in New Zealand, but we are by no means the only country in the world struggling to educate people on how to use their money more effectively.

However, the major difference between New Zealand and the rest of the world is that we lack the commitment and resources from our Government to tackle this problem in a way that will really make a difference.

The Retirement Commission is recognised internationally for its efforts in financial literacy despite a limited budget. Diana Crossan, Retirement Commissioner, reminded the Government in her opening address that more money is required to support financial literacy in schools if we really want to see an improvement in the financial wellbeing of Kiwis.

While financial education is now part of the school curriculum, budget cuts in the education sector have meant a drastic reduction in the funding available to support it. Money habits are formed early in life and changing the attitudes and behaviours of young people is an effective way to change the financial literacy of the population over time.

In the United Kingdom the Money Advice Service, a recent initiative, brings free, unbiased financial advice to people across the country online, over the phone and in person.

Our Retirement Commission is able to provide people with information and resources, but is not able to give advice.

Free advice is available from the Federation of Family Budgeting Services, but the public perception of this service is as somewhere you go when you are on the verge of financial ruin.

What New Zealand needs is low-cost, accessible advice for all.

Liz Koh is an authorised financial adviser. The advice given here is general and does not constitute specific advice to any person. A disclosure statement can be obtained free of charge by calling 0800 273 847.

- The Aucklander

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