Financial Education and Numeracy - Context not Content
We need to sign the papers to remortgage the house. We have come to the end of the two year fixed interest rate period and our mortgage rate should drop from 2.49% a year to 1.20% a year if we go for a fixed rate again. Definitely means more money for our monthly budget.
Looking up from the documents I met my wife's blank stare. You know I hate numbers, she said. Just tell me where to sign and as long as I’m not signing my life away I trust you.
In the past I would have met this with much frustration as the maths is easy and how else can I explain it! Any more attempt to educate is met with the response of you studied Astrophysics at Oxbridge and you work in finance for a living so the maths looks basic to you and by the way that’s not normal or cool!
As the first ever national numeracy day approaches I have come to the realisation that financial education cannot grow significantly until the basic numeracy required to support such an educational foundation is put in place. First and foremost the attitude towards numbers which some call mental block or inertia has to be dealt with and the guys at National Numeracy have put together an Attitude Quiz to test your attitude towards numeracy.
At MoneyNotes we believe that vast improvements can be made in financial education if the focus is on the “Context” rather than the “Content” of mathematics. Basically focus on mathematics relating important aspects of life such as:
- Getting a good mortgage deal
- Comparing payday, credit card and other types of loans
- Calculating increases to bills and travel costs which should motivate consumers to Review, Compare, Haggle and switch when it comes to their household bills
- Understanding car loans
- Working your way towards becoming financially independent
I'm sure there will be an outcry from the cool maths geeks if we recommended that schools should completely do away with fun mathematics such as Trigonometry and Geometry and focus more on fractions and percentages which come in handy for financial education. We are merely just advocating for rethink and refocus on Context so that we as a country can start to improve on some of the statistics (below) set out by National Numeracy
- "17 million adults – 49% of the working-age population of England – have the numeracy level that we expect of primary school children."
- "The total cost to the UK economy (to the Exchequer, employers and individuals) has been put at £20 billion a year"
Congratulations for staying with us to this point. We hope you feel more positive about the role of numeracy skills to your financial education as what's important is being able to use simple maths to make good financial decisions. All this talk of maths and numeracy must make you want to try the National Numeracy's Online Assessment . Let us know how you got on in the comments section below. By the way, my wife who "hates numbers" scored pretty well on it and I guess for completeness I have to disclose that I did OK with a score of 99%.
We at MoneyNotes are excited about the work being done to raise awareness about the importance of financial education. We have some exciting financial education packages which can be tailored to your needs to help you on your journey to knowing your money better. A lot of our MoneyNoters have benefited from the packages.