New research has confirmed what a lot of young New Zealanders already know: school doesn’t teach us enough about how to handle our finances. And so we are turning to TikTok and YouTube for these important life lessons instead. 

The research done by BetterSaver, a KiwiSaver advice platform, surveyed 16-24 year olds and found that 90 percent of youth think that school needs to teach them more about budgeting and finance. And nearly 40 percent also said they want to learn more about money and finances, but they didn’t know where to start.

The research uncovers what topics young New Zealanders particularly want to learn more about at school:

  • 90 percent said they want to learn more about budgeting and how to plan and save their money. 
  • 66 percent want to learn how KiwiSaver works.
  • 63 percent want to learn how to save for a house deposit.
  • 52 percent said they want to learn more about making investment choices and understanding risk.
  • 44 percent want to learn more about using credit cards, loans and Buy Now Pay Later schemes. 
  • And 42 percent want to know more about how to save for their retirement.

Joe Taylor, BetterSaver founder and CEO, says the research clearly shows New Zealand schools need to do better.

“We cannot leave our young adults in the dark to figure out what financial advice is good or bad. We trust schools to set our children up for success, but our research findings show that’s not the case when it comes to financial matters.”

When young people in the survey were asked: ‘where do you get your information on money and personal finance from?’ More than 80 percent said they relied on their parents, 27 percent said their friends and 26 percent said they relied on social media platforms like TikTok and Youtube. But only 19 percent said they were informed through school. 

“Financial education should be easy, and the foundations should be laid at school,” he says. “The fact that we’ve got young people relying on TikTok, Instagram and other social media ahead of the schooling system shows we’ve got some serious leg work to do.”

Interestingly, when asked how to define ‘compound interest’, more than half of the young people surveyed couldn’t define it accurately. Three in five also didn’t understand that diversification decreases investment risks, which has a big influence on deciding what KiwiSaver fund or investment strategy suits them best.

“We’ve got to set young Kiwis up for financial success. It doesn’t happen by accident,” says Joe Taylor. “Financial literacy is something we can teach, and it’s something we can simply step people through the basics.”

More stories: 

A young person’s guide to money in the days of Covid-19

Is it time for a Universal Basic Income?

'All the girls are your cousins': life as a teen in the Far North