I'm more convinced than ever that budgeting and money management need to be compulsory in schools from a relatively young age.

Today we report that Tauranga Budget Advisory Service clients owe almost $33 million in debt.

That's a staggering amount, especially when you compare it to the population of the region.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said much of the debt was racked up by excessive credit card spending, personal loans, truck shops and hire purchase.

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Mortgages also played a part but were a good debt unlike the rest, she said.

I've written about my attitude to money before but it still shocks me how much debt people end up with.

We need to be teaching our kids to budget and manage money (and debt) in all schools. It should be part of the curriculum for all Year 9 and 10 students - even just a couple of sessions a year would do.

At that age they are starting to be more independent and often have money to spend.

So many people don't seem to know how exorbitant interest rates can be on many credit cards and personal loans. We need to teach people the dangers of using credit before they find out the hard way.

We need to teach people to save up before they buy something instead of whacking it on a credit card or using hire purchase. I suspect many people have not thought about how much they could save by paying for it up front.

Parents can't teach their children those skills unless they have learnt it themselves which is why you find generations of relatives falling into the same trap.

The results of making it a compulsory subject will not be instant. You will not see change until those students leave home and go on to fend for themselves.

It won't help those currently struggling with debt but it will save the next generation much stress and drama.

It's a valuable life lesson - one everyone should be given a chance to learn early on.