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Wednesday 24th July 2024

Money lessons I wish I had learned in school

Richa Ved shares the valuable money lessons she learned during her time as a student

Money lessons. Pictured three young people looking at a laptop.


Graduation days beautifully celebrate your hard work as a student, marking the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Then comes the post-graduation transition – which is difficult because no one really prepares you with money lessons for embracing the changes brought by adulthood.

As someone who very recently underwent this transition, I realised that we (students) know much more about quadratic equations than we know about personal finance. 

Being a business graduate, I presumed (wrongfully!) that I knew enough about money management, investments and savings. It wasn’t until I started earning and managing my own money that I realised that the most crucial personal finance aspects were never taught to us. Instead, you are expected to know it all right from the beginning of your career!

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So, here are some of the many money lessons I wish I learned in school.

Read more from Richa Ved on Mouthy Money

Budgeting

While budgeting is introduced as a concept at a basic level in school, it gets far more complicated when you’re trying to spend appropriately, pay off debts, and save more – all at the same time.

And while most budgeting skills are taught for when you HAVE money, not much is taught about how it works when you don’t have a lot of it.

Budgeting at a personal level is step 1 of learning how to manage our money. We must calculate our respective disposable incomes, understand our spending patterns, and learn to prioritise our needs (rent, utilities, food, transport) over our wants (luxuries, travel, gifts, entertainment and other activities).

The 50/30/20 Budget Rule is a good thumb rule I started with – allocating 50% of my disposable income towards my needs, 30% towards my wants and 20% towards saving.

The taxation system

The taxation system was certainly an eye-opener for me in my adult years. Growing up I always understood what ‘tax’ meant but as I navigated through the entire tax system, I realised I didn’t know much about it.

From learning how to calculate my taxes and understanding the various tax bands to accounting for my personal allowance (or other benefits) and learning how to file year-end tax returns – it was a whole different world.

How to save right

Yes, savings are important and yes, we need to save some of the money we earn – But how? What’s the right amount? Where do I save? And why?

Sometimes it’s too late till we realise we should not just be saving towards our short-term pleasures (like Christmas gifts, a new gaming console, or a swanky car) but also towards long-term goals such as childcare and retirement.

A good tip is to automate your savings for your various financial goals to prevent yourself from overspending it right now.

The basics of individual investing

While saving your money is crucial, it’s most important to learn how to multiply it from the very beginning. Remember, the earlier you start investing, the larger your pot will grow.

Set a realistic timeline to achieve your financial milestones – like building your career, becoming financially independent, buying a house etc. – and find the best avenues for investing and growing your money as per your requirements.

Avoid any quick money-making scams and frauds and be sure to do your due diligence before putting your money anywhere.

The ins and outs of credit and debt

Loans and credit cards are wired into the system as common earning and spending methods. 

But the term ‘debt spiral’ isn’t heard as often. No one teaches you what it is, how to prevent it, or (god forbid!) how to deal with it. The same goes for student loans. So many students get into these without having a clear idea of the repercussions and potential impact. 

All these credit methods eventually count towards your credit score – an important indicator of your creditworthiness (ability to repay your debts) that companies use to offer you a mortgage, insurance, credit cards, or business loan.

Photo credits: Pexels

Richa Ved

Richa is a young Indian graduate from Warwick Business School, aspiring to find her niche in the media industry. She has a passion for writing and a keen interest in financial affairs. If you don’t find her working, she’s probably having a pizza (her favourite!) and a pint of beer somewhere.

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