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Young Financial Journalist of the Year Winner: 17-19 Category

26 March, 2018Georgina Hill
writingThis year we had an amazing amount of entries for The Young Financial Journalist of the Year. The competition was incredibly difficult to judge, with top quality entries in both age categories. 

We were asking our young writers to answer; 'Why should I care about being money savvy, and how can financial education help?' 

We would like to congratulate Georgina Hill, 17, from Bethany School in Goudhurst, Kent who is this year's winner in the 17-19 category. The judges said: “The article was thoughtful and covered some really important topics such as student loans, reading the small print and how mental health can affect people's finances. Well done!” 

Below is Georgina's winning article, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Why should I care about being money savvy, and how can financial education help?

How many times have you sat in a lesson and thought "how is this relatable for later life"? Personally this thought has popped into my head on numerous occasions, however this doesn't occur in finance lessons. Finance is extremely useful and without it many young adults are ill-equipped with the correct skills required for money management later on in life. The mere mention of financial jargon such as "stocks and shares" and "mortgages" is enough to bore most teenagers. However due to inflation, prices are rising rapidly which is creating problems for young adults due to the increasing costs of house deposits, thousands of pounds required for higher education and the increasing costs of financing debt.

YouGov studies have shown that 70% of 18-24 year olds are in debt. Some debts such as student loans are unavoidable for those wanting access to higher education but cannot afford the cost.  An important part of financial education is budgeting and planning, helping to minimise debt and its consequences. There is an old phrase “it takes money to make money” and this summarises student loans in a nut shell. Those who are well educated nearly always have better employment opportunities and for some professions university is a necessity. However, like any debt if it is not managed correctly it can lead to a debt spiral which becomes uncontrollable. Financial education helps to educate young people about the importance of incorporating all of these debt repayments into a budget.

Drawing up a budget is a simple life skill, but how many people actually compiled one or have even thought of the idea? A recent survey has revealed that 48% of adults said that they do not budget regularly for their day-to-day finances. It is simple transferable skills such as these which give students studying finance a huge advantage over those who have little or no experience in the matter. Budgeting enables people to keep on top of their finances by keeping track of their income and expenditure. Learning these skills from an early age will help to create good habits, enabling people to manage their money more easily and reduce the stress caused by debt. Many of us are well accustomed with the phrase “money cannot buy happiness’”, however money is vital for paying for essential goods. For many people in debt money can buy short-term happiness if it means that their debt problems and stresses are resolved. Money saved early in life and during a lifetime can save thousands in the future and make for a more comfortable retirement.

Mental health has often been considered a taboo topic in the past, however there have been increasing amount of articles published in the news about the links between debt and the effect that it has on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. When people think of the causes of mental health they usually come up with trauma, isolation and stress, however many of us often don't associate debt as being a cause of mental health.

Debt can often play a significant part in the failure of relationships and can cause people to lose the security of their homes. For some people unexpected circumstances, compulsive spending or bad money management can cause large amounts of debt to develop. They often feel isolated, however there are many sources of help! People are often unaware of organisations such as Mind and Stepchange which are specifically designed to guide people through their debts. They are free of charge and can help you get back on track with your finances, by offering tailor made plans and working alongside financial providers to resolve their problems.

For many people it is easy to bury their heads in the sand and just to ignore the issue, praying that the debt will just magically disappears.  The fact is that debt will not just disappear and it will almost likely to come back to haunt you in later life.

Financial education helps you to be wary of various choices. Today we are surrounded by advertising offering us the cheapest deals and the newest technology. However, how many of us really read the small print? Introductory bonuses and special offers are set as a trap to entice people to purchase the product, with many of these products not really benefiting us in the long-term especially in regards to borrowing.

Although some deals look too good to be true, many people still purchase these products because they are not fully aware of how the product fully operates. It is this financial illiteracy which leads most people into debt as they are unaware of the consequences and generally decide to pick the product with the so called “best deal”.

Financial education helps to eliminate the misunderstandings regarding these products and emphasises the importance of research to fully understand the terms and conditions before even considering making a purchase. Unfortunately there will always be charge for borrowing, however big or small the APR, it is using comparison websites and understanding the financial terminology which really helps you to make the best informed decision.

To conclude, it is a blessing for anyone to have the opportunity to study financial education as it is an essential life skill. A staggering statistic has shown that a lack of financial education in the UK costs £3.4 billion a year, an obscene amount of money! This is due to a number of factors including: insufficient planning for retirement, miss-selling of financial products and debt management. All of these factors could be significantly reduced if the youth of today were sufficiently educated in these matters.

Financial education shouldn't be considered boring, it will equip you with the skill set to enable you to lead a more comfortable and stress free life-time.

- Georgina Hill, 17

About our guest judge, Katie Morley

She was Consumer Affairs Editor at the Daily and Sunday Telegraph. She started writing during her time as a student at University College London (UCL), becoming the Editor of UCL’s student magazine in 2009, before beginning her formal training as a journalist in 2010. Her career has developed from writing on student issues to reporting on news and issues in the finance sector – starting with pensions and investments and then moving into personal finance. She started a Young Money column in the Financial Times in 2014 before moving to the Daily and Sunday Telegraph in 2014. Her roles at The Telegraph have included Senior Personal Finance Reporter.

Find out which budding young journalist won the 14-16 year old category.