How I learned to tame the money beast…

Financial literacy has never seemed to me a very pertinent topic before I started working with the GIZ AGRUFIN Programme. Especially not among those that have received tertiary education. I mean, those qualified people that deal with excel sheets, numbers, tables and budgets on a daily basis in their professional lives, surely they must be able to deal with their personal finances as well? Paradoxically, however, professional skills do not always transfer to personal matters, especially when it comes to dealing with money. It seems like money is one of those creatures that is well managed from a distance. But once it comes close it transforms into a wild beast that people prefer to stay away from. The happy message I took away from the financial literacy training: Managing money is a skill like any other and can be learned just like riding a bike!

Can such a life-changing skill be learned in a classroom though? Certainly the human ability to improve behaviour simply on the grounds of people telling you to do something is limited. We all know that, just try to remember the last time you actually followed someone’s advice. All of us tend to stick to our habits. Breaking through that veil of routine is a real challenge. We feel that we know everything. We feel that improving behaviour is something reserved for the next generation. We feel that we have learned enough life skills. After all, we have made it this far without making a household budget. Why should we change now? Who are you to tell me to save more money? Go and play with your own piggy bank…

I believe reaching out to people and making them reconsider their financial behaviour is possible, however, with a magic combination of three things: examples that people can identify with, involvement of their emotions and interactive exercises. The key to any successful adult training! We all like to pretend that we are rational beings. But really? Let us be honest with ourselves. We need more than good reasons to change our behaviour, we want people to reach out to our hearts. You say financial literacy isn’t exactly the material Hollywood movies are made of? Just attend a training session for yourself and see the outbursts of creativity the topic incites: financial literacy songs, skits, radio shows, anything else, you name it!

Let us face the truth. People tend to be forgetful. They want to be reminded of the moment of their financial literacy awakening. Organising follow-up meetings with the participants is therefore crucial in order to magnify the enlightenment effect of the training session. Saying that you will start making a household budget and to track your expenses is one thing. Doing so is a completely different story. We all know what happened to those New Year’s resolutions we didn’t stick to. Those little promises that now haunt our conscience. Let us all try our best so that money matters will in future no longer be one of them…

Jana Cattien

+256-414-253-840
financialliteracy@bou.or.ug
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