On Friday, 10 February 2023, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) launched the findings of the Money Matters’ Financial Education Survey (linked here) collected during the international Global Money Week campaign in 2022.
Over 1400 young people, aged 12-20, from around the country took part in the survey, with over 86% of the participants aged 15-17. Some key findings of the survey include the following:
- 40% of young people living in Ireland are learning about money via social media outlets.
- 61% are using a mobile phone/app to keep track of their money – and this is the most popular tool for tracking finances.
- Over 80% of young people report that they are shopping online.
- The vast majority (96%) of young people who took part in the survey report that they feel it is important to talk about money.
It is clear from the survey’s findings that young people are engaging with personal financial services from an early age, with mobile apps and social media playing a key role in this engagement. Young people are also interested in a variety of money management topics – including investing, taxes, cryptocurrencies, housing, and funding for third level education.
The report argues that gaining specific knowledge on the personal financial attitudes and behaviours of young people living in Ireland is an extremely valuable endeavour, as young people are typically excluded from data collection on such topics. MABS plans on repeating the ‘Money Matters’ Survey as part of the annual Global Money Week initiative, to help continually gather data and analyse emerging trends in regards to young people and their money and spending habits.
‘Global Money Week’ is an international campaign launched by the OECD and supported by the United Nations and other intergovernmental bodies, and MABS is the leading national organisation in Ireland that supports its delivery. In 2022 alone, MABS Staff travelled to 15 counties throughout Ireland, visiting 44 secondary schools, 1 primary school, 1 Youthreach and 1 National Learning Network centre to deliver financial training and workshops to young people on topics such as ‘prioritising spending’, ‘budgeting’, ‘savings’, ‘protecting our money’, and ‘borrowing’.
The significance of the ‘Global Money Week’ campaign, as well as any and all efforts to provide opportunities for young people to learn about personal finance, cannot be understated. Arguably, there is a need for further targeted supports for young persons living in Ireland in this area. In 2021, survey data (linked here) released by SpunOut.ie and the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) revealed that over 1 in 4 (or 26%) college students living in Ireland report that they have little to no understanding of financial topics, and nearly two-thirds (60%) report that they would like to improve their overall money management and budgeting skills.
Research also shows that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the earlier a person begins to learn and engage with money matters, the better. For instance, a 2018 study on financial capability in Ireland (linked here) published by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) found that, of those populations who are financially ‘secure’, 75% report speaking to their parents about money issues when growing up and 60% learned about money matters in school and college. In contrast, those living in Ireland who are ‘struggling’ financially, only 38% grew up in families that discussed money and 10% received financial education in school.
Unfortunately, the topic of ‘money’ and ‘spending’ is still a taboo subject within many families and communities in Ireland. It is important to support public awareness raising and campaigns (such as ‘Global Money Week’) that work to challenge this stigma, as well as to promote healthy and on-going discussions of money and personal finance both at home and in schools.
We are also arguably living during a time where there are numerous structural barriers at work that negatively impact household financial wellbeing in Ireland – and every day at MABS we see the effects of these barriers for those who access our services. We would argue that many of these issues are systemic and may even worsen in the future, disproportionately affecting younger persons throughout the course of their lives. These challenges include:
- The escalating cost of living crisis, further exacerbated by the pandemic, recent spikes in the cost of housing (in particular private rents), climate change and the cost of energy.
- The importance of strong personal digital skills and competencies in order to enable financial wellbeing, related to the increasing importance of financial technologies (FinTech) and the movement towards becoming a cashless society.
- The role of alternative forms of credit, for example, hire purchase agreements and ‘buy now pay later’ schemes.
- The rising number of reported scams, fraudulent activities and cyber-attacks, which further emphasise the importance of protecting personal information online. Online shopping has increased exponentially since the pandemic, with young people being more likely to shop online than older persons.
- The narrowing of the personal banking sector in Ireland, including the closure of in-person banking facilities throughout the country, as well as recent decisions of two of the five major banks (KBC and Ulster Bank) to exit the Irish market. This reduces banking options and competition on the aggregate, as well as limiting options for credit availability with mainstream lenders.
It is important to note that, for many students, ‘Global Money Week’ simply serves as an introduction to an extremely important topic, and there is a need to have continued discussions and learning opportunities in the future.
MABS will continue to deliver this campaign around the country in 2023, and Global Money Week took place from the 20 – 26 March 2023.
The Money Matters report (linked here)
More on GMW 2023: (linked here)
More on MABS work on 2023 Global Money Week: (linked here)