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How much did you know and understand about finances when you were 18? I know I was very naive. Having had part-time jobs I was a little aware of the tax system and had experience budgeting but had never had to pay home bills or consider which bills were a priority over others. I guess that going to university and moving into university halls of residence it was a good introduction to living independently but without that, I am not sure how some people would have managed. Maybe I am different to others my age who maybe had more support or learning at school and knew more at 18 but I think many were similar to me.

Lessons in school when I was young

I think nowadays there are so many more lessons around finances at school and kids grow up a lot quicker nowadays with the advances in technology etc. When I was at school I don’t remember doing much about finances other than general stuff in maths lessons about percentages. Even when young and in primary school, I don’t remember doing much with money, there are so many money games nowadays kids can play to help them learn about change etc.

I would have liked our food/cooking lessons to focus more on budgeting and perhaps geography lessons to include thinking about planning a trip to a country we were studying and how things cost there etc.

I don’t remember learning anything about saving and even in young adulthood the first I really knew about stocks and investments was when I had to look where to put my son’s Child Trust Fund money and investing it into stocks was an option. If only they had been able to show us games like this stocks game I might have understood them a bit more!

Lessons I think they need now

I am not aware of my son having any specific lessons around finances however due to his autism he has always attended special needs schools and is currently at a special needs college so possibly will cover things more like this soon. He has however looked at finances in the respect of food shopping and ingredients needed for a recipe.

Whilst I guess this may be an unpopular opinion, I personally think that a lot of teaching about finances is down to parents. That can be using money games online, showing them bills as they get older and giving pocket money and budgets to buy things such as Christmas gifts.

What I wish I knew and will ensure my son knows

I am not in any way saying that my family didn’t teach me what I needed to know, it was possible in many ways that things were different then, I am 42 after all and things do change. I do however wish that I knew how much bills were before I moved out. I had no idea until I needed to know how much the utility bills would be, how much a TV license is and what things like council tax are even for!

At the moment my son gets pocket money which he is expected to use to pay for hobbies and presents he wishes to buy people as well as his lunches at college. He is given an adequate amount for this but has to work out budgeting so whilst he may have £100 in the bank he can’t spend it all as he needs it for college food and his girlfriend’s Christmas present for example. As he gets better at this he will have an increase in pocket money but also have to budget and pay his phone bill and then move forward to an amount for board and lodgings!

I am not sure if I am doing this all the right way but it feels like I am gradually introducing him to being responsible for is own finances and helping him understand by showing him bills and costs whenever I can.

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