"Research suggests children start to grasp the concept of money from the age of seven and yet, when they need to strike out on their own and become financially independent, the vast majority struggle."
A former fund manager from Suffolk has launched an online platform to prevent children succumbing to the “damage of debt”.
Helen Driver, who has had a 20-year career in finance and banking, is the brains behind Moneyready, a tool designed to help young people between the ages of seven and 18 manage money.
The site uses a series of interactive games, lessons and quizzes on a range of issues from budgeting to banking, investments to insurance and saving to spending and ties in directly with the school citizenship curriculum for key stages three and four.
“Research suggests children really start to grasp the concept of money from the age of seven and yet, when they need to strike out on their own and become financially independent, the vast majority struggle,” said Helen, a mother-of-two who lives in Woodbridge.
“There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, children struggle with delayed gratification and their early interactions with money involve spending rather than saving.
“Secondly, money has become invisible to children thanks to the rise of plastic and things like online purchasing and gaming currencies.
“And thirdly, education on financial planning is poor and while a lot of money management for adults involves debt and credit in the form of loans, mortgages and hire purchasing, children witnessing this are given no guidance on how this works.
“What this means is that teenagers are growing up believing that getting into debt is a way of life.
“We owe it to our young people to ensure that they have the financial acumen to deal with the responsibilities of being an adult and that’s where I come in.”
Government regulator The Financial Services Authority has championed the use of personal finance lessons in classrooms in order to teach teenagers about debt before they are old enough to get into serious trouble.
But, according to teachers who took part in The Ticking Time Bomb of Generation Debt - an in-depth study into what youngsters understand about finance carried out in 2017 - education about money has stalled, with many secondary schools side-stepping changes introduced to the national curriculum in 2014.
Helen said: “The mandate to teach personal finance education hasn’t really worked but I think it can be very difficult for teachers to fulfil all areas of learning in this area without taking children away from other important areas of the curriculum.
“Young adults need to understand more about things like loans, mortgages, interest rates and credit cards and not fear the terminology of finance which can be very confusing.
“My platform is designed to handle all this and arm children with the skills they need to avoid the damage of debt in later life.”
Moneyready, which has been developed using the talents of Suffolk-based developers and designers, is pitched at three levels – seven to 11, 11 to 14 and 14 to 18-year-olds with each level getting progressively more complex.
“The purpose of the platform is to teach children the fundamentals of managing money in a format they already embrace — via a screen,” said Helen. “Schools – and parents – have really grasped this as a way to engage with young people which is why there are hundreds of apps and websites which work to boost education on things like times tables, phonics and spellings.”
These include popular E-learning platforms such as Mathletics for maths, Spell Wizards for the English language, Quizlet to help children with homework assignments and Bee Bot for programming and coding.
“Many of these are used in conjunction with traditional learning in primary and secondary schools already,” said Helen. “What Moneyready does is fill a gap in the market in the same way – providing a supplementary learning tool that takes the pressure away from the classroom.”
The platform can be accessed by a single subscription – with a parent setting up an account – or through a school subscription.
The account holder can then oversee which elements a child has completed and how well they have grasped the lesson thanks to a series of pop quizzes.
For more information visit www.moneyready.org