In the last couple of weeks I have met a few students who have been having a hard time at school. It seems that student’s anxiety and stress levels are increasing. This was confirmed by the recent survey conducted by the Canadian Association of College & University Student Services in September 2016. The survey found that anxiety and depression as the top mental illness that students face. It seems that more and more the young people are afflicted with a barrage of ideals and expectations that they have to live up to. I should say that they feel that they have to live up to. The reasons for the high levels of anxiety and depression range from body issues, eating disorders, school and life balance and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their life. These are daunting issues for anyone at any age to face. It seems ironic that we have so many advancements and technological progress in the world and instead of this making people happier and more at peace it seems to be doing the opposite and from an early age.
One of the stressors that students face is finance. Many students work while they are at school. Most do so out of necessity. While there is merit in students working part time while studying, it seems that it is also a major source of stress. At a very early age, students need to be able to juggle work and life balance while they figure out who they are and what they want to do in this is world. Over the summer I supervised two research papers which both examined how students manage their finances. One paper showed that students did not have any idea about managing their debt prior to graduation. They indicated that they may have done things differently had they known the issues they would have to face once they graduated. While the second paper showed that even though the students knew that they needed more financial education to help them manage their debt, they didn’t want the traditional finance sessions.
These results highlight the inherent aversion that people have towards understanding finance. The students recognized that they needed help in managing their finances. They understand that if they have more knowledge they can better manage their financial affairs. However, many are not willing to invest the time to do this. This aversion may stem from intimidation. Many see finance and money issues as complex and beyond their grasp. Another reason may be people see finance as boring with a capital B! I often see the glaze looked that people get when they hear the word finance. It must be said that students are not the only ones, adults are no different. It seems that most people regardless of their age would prefer to ignore the problem rather than take it on.
It is true that not all financial education is effective and it depends a lot on how it is delivered. This is one of the primary reasons that I created The Kidonomics Series (TKS). The idea is that if children grow up reading stories about other kids who make choices, save and spend wisely then it would normal for them to do these things. The TKS stories are simple and engaging because children can relate to the characters in the story. They see themselves in these characters and therefore they try to emulate them. It has been my personal experience that it is easier to raise a financially aware child than it is to make an adult financially aware. I believe if we can all understand what money really is and its true role in society, then we will all be better off both financially and more importantly mentally!