Building better financial futures through innovative education solutions

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Imagine if you knew back then what you know now.

One of our partners, The PMG Charitable Trust is aiming to build better financial futures through an innovative education solution. General Manager and Trustee of the Trust, Bridget Lem explains why financial literacy is such a critical skill for all our young rangatahi.

Financial inequity is one of the biggest challenges our country faces this century. With current inflation and interest rates and increasing costs of living, understanding how to manage our money is more critical now than ever, yet we are not preparing our next generation to do this. Right now, 40% of New Zealander's are living with less than $1000 savings. For young Kiwis this same figure is 54%. We have become a nation of people living from pay check to pay check.

Meanwhile household debt levels are at historic highs, and 190,000 young New Zealanders are considered to be either over-indebted or at severe risk of it, thanks to easy access to credit and deferred payment products like Buy Now Pay Later.  Many young people are becoming encumbered with debt which affects their ability to save and invest for their futures.

Yet for over 30 years there has been no compulsory financial literacy taught in New Zealand secondary schools.    

It’s for all of these reasons the PMG Charitable Trust was established; to help build better financial futures for young New Zealanders. The Trust does this through education, partnerships with the education and financial literacy sector and delivery of innovative solutions.  Bridget explained that collaboration in the not-for-profit sector is critical if all of us working so hard to make social impact, don’t want to cannibalise each other’s efforts.

We take the approach that collaboration is our competitive edge, in that we don’t want to reinvent the wheel of organisations who are already doing great stuff for our young people. Instead we want to support them and help them increase their reach and impact. This may be by identifying opportunities, developing partnerships, digitizing and enhancing existing services, and or using our network to connect people, programmes and organisations."

One of these solutions was launched in May 2023 following a successful pilot. Working in partnership with Life Education Trust New Zealand (LETNZ) the Trust developed an interactive, infotainment-styled financial literacy tool (Smart$ Online) which engages young people to learn the fundamentals of money management.

Designed by young people and targeted at year 9-10 students, it includes four modules on the topics of Savings, Debt, Deferred Payments (i.e. Buy Now Pay Later). Each module has a 2.5 minute video with young people roleplaying the money scenario followed by a short interactive quiz. Students and teachers can see their results and learn more immediately after completion.

The PMG Charitable Trust provides this tool free of charge to schools and youth organisations across the country. And as Bridget said, “while what we have is a minimal viable product, it’s received some great feedback and stats, we have higher aspirations."

We are grateful for the support of EPIT and the PMG Charitable Trust’s foundation donors as Smart$ Online will be further developed in 2024 to include additional money modules and better functionality. The Trust will also develop a Te Ao Māori version which is developed by rangaitahi for rangatahi, as well as a version which reflects and supports cultural differences for Pasifika communities when it comes to money management.

“We’d also love to provide the tool free of charge to any fellow members in EPIT’s community hub, if they see it could support and benefit their education programmes and the young people they are working with.”
Nischal Chakravarthy
30 January 2024
min read

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