Understanding how to manage money is being taught as part of school subjects including social studies and maths.

There have long been calls for financial literacy to be taught as a stand-alone subject because of the trouble many Kiwis get into after taking high interest loans or agreements. However, some schools are integrating financial literacy education into existing subjects, and new resources have been developed to help them do that.

Albany Junior High School is one of the first to join a "Sorted Schools" group.

Vicky Crawford, head of the school's business academy, said it had proven easy to get 13- and 14-year-olds interested in financial literacy.


In maths classes, lessons on percentages had been taught using personal finance examples. Teachers found that the results were higher than normal, because students were more engaged.

"What's really cool to me is you have students saying, 'I'm really good at financial literacy'," Ms Crawford said. "They are telling their parents how important it is, and telling their little brother or sister, 'We can help you so that you can be rich when you are older'."

Students had developed resources to teach others about financial literacy, including apps, interactive games, brochures and displays. Their work was last night displayed in a trade exhibition, run as part of Money Week, which has been organised by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income.

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell said embedding financial literacy in the curriculum made sense.

"We want them to be on the winning side of their decisions because they know the fundamentals and they know what questions to ask."

Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox was part of working groups that recommended financial literacy be incorporated into existing subjects.

"That is the way it is most likely to be picked up. Because if you make it a separate subject, schools' curriculums are full, so people don't fit it in."

Each day budgeting help services dealt with people who had found themselves in serious financial strife after entering into agreements without understanding concepts such as compound interest.


Ms Fox said loan and other contracts were difficult to understand, let alone without knowing basic financial concepts. "It is just a whole different language to you. You think, 'Well, I need the money I've got to sign this bit of paper'. Then stuff goes wrong."