Research shows declining rates in teenage financial literacy

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Well, the research is in and the results speak for themselves. Australian teenagers could do with a hand when it comes to financial literacy.

In May of this year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the second research study conducted by their Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The PISA study, among other things, looks at the financial literacy levels of 15-year-old students from across the globe; and while 15% of the participating Australian students had financial literacy levels above the average of the other participating countries, 20%, according to PISA, do not even reach the baseline proficiency. That’s a 9% increase on this group from PISA’s 2012 study.

"20%, according to PISA, do not even reach the baseline proficiency"


Add to that a recent study by the Financial Basics Foundation surveyed 1,100 high school kids across the country and found significant levels of misunderstanding about managing credit card debt. Students were asked how long it would take to pay off a $2,000 debt on a credit card with an 18%pa interest rate, paying only the minimum repayments. Over half the students said it would take less than three years to pay off the debt – it would actually take more than 15.

So, that’s declining rates of financial literacy, a growing national credit card debt (it’s currently sitting at around $32.5 billion) and general confusion about credit cards from the next generation of spenders. Feeling alarmed?

Educating the next generation is the top priority of ASIC’s National Financial Literacy Strategy, and we are on board. In 2016, the IMB Bank Community Foundation pledged $75,000 to the development and delivery of programmes to provide resources and tools for students to learn about money. In the most recent round of funding, the IMB Bank Community Foundation pledged an additional $50,000 to further support and extend these activities.

For high school students, IMB Bank has teamed up with the National Theatre for Children (NTC), to deliver a fully funded financial literacy program to high schools. The program delivers educational and entertaining messages via an in-school performance ‘Mad About Money’, to young people who are emerging as consumers. The first tour of the performance, in March 2017, was delivered to more than 2,000 students across 10 schools from the Illawarra and Sutherland Shire. Tour two kicks off in September 2017 and aims to reach an additional 3,000 students.

So far, we’ve pledged $125,000 to the development and delivery of programmes to provide resources and tools for students to learn about money.

To enhance the educational experience and knowledge bank for young people, IMB Bank has developed a web portal for high school students. The Money Tree by IMB Bank is loaded with useful tips and information to provide extra financial literacy support to students in light-hearted, easy to understand language. The financial literacy concepts across both the performance and the website align with the Australian Curriculum.

Interestingly, the PISA study also found that students who discussed money matters with their parents, at least sometimes, demonstrated higher levels of financial literacy. So whether you are talking to your teenager about the family budget, helping them develop their own or getting them involved in the next big purchase decision you make, it can all help. And, for extra info around, earning, managing, saving and spending their money your teenager can always head to the Money Tree.

IMB Bank is also preparing to release an online learning hub for 18-25s. IMB Kick$tart will offer interactive learning modules across a range of topics including managing your money, buying your first car, leaving home and getting your head around your super.  

Explore The Money Tree by IMB Bank