Learning by doing and responding to decisive moments in a student's daily life are crucial, Amagir remarked. "You shouldn't talk about their retirement, because it's too far away. But about how they are going to save for college or about the expenditure they will have when they rent a room. In addition, it is important that you teach them to think in the longer term.
In collaboration with teachers and students, she designed a financial education program, SaveWise, and introduced it at sixteen different schools. Amagir: "SaveWise starts with the question 'How can you achieve your dreams? This a way of helping students to be future oriented. They set a savings goal for the next 6 months to a year."
This savings goal was a way to talk about other topics relating to managing money. Students learned by doing. "They were surprised that they were not only practicing, but really had to save for something," says Amagir.
"We know from research that we don't always act rationally when it comes to money. This is why we integrated elements from behavioral economics into SaveWise." For example, the Latte Factor: The Latte Factor is a tool to make people understand how small savings could generate a substantial amount through compound interest. Students could put this money aside to achieve their savings goal. Most 15-year-olds don't drink coffee at the station, but they do buy three cans of Red Bull in one day." One of the students thought that the term 'Red-Bull Factor' was a better fit for young people".
Amagir concluded from her preliminary research that financial education should not only focus on knowledge, but also on attitude and behavior: "There are already a number of schools that offer financial education and we see a positive effect on the knowledge of students. However, we do not see that their attitude or behavior changes as a result of this. This is more likely to happen through conversations with parents and peers."
The parents are also involved in the program SaveWise. We gave students assignments that they had to discuss with their parents. "We know from the literature this has the greatest effect. But unfortunately not everyone gets a financial education from home. In addition, talking about money is still taboo."
Amagir believes that making young people financially more resilient is not only a responsibility of the parents. "This is a shared responsibility, the school should also play a role.
For more reading see:
Amagir, A., Groot, W., Maassen van den Brink, H., & Wilschut, A. (2019). SaveWise: The design of a financial education program in the Netherlands. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, 18(2), 100–120. https://doi.org/10.1177/2047173419870053