Topic: Personal finance May 21, 2018
Author: Neil Cubley

Talking Cents with Ollie the Owl


Bank of Ireland Financial Literacy for schools

Thirty children in a class at St Raphaela’s Primary School Stillorgan are debating the benefits of using cash or cashless to pay for things with Frank Conway, financial literacy expert from Moneywhizz, and Denise Dunican from Bank of Ireland.

‘Some shops don’t take cards so it’s good to have some cash,’ says one pupil.

‘Cashless is better because you don’t have all your money in your hand; someone could just take it from you,’ says another.

Talking Cents with Ollie

The class has just finished reading an edition of ‘Talking Cents with Ollie’ the money magazine for kids provided free to schools by Bank of Ireland and written by Frank Conway.

It  also comes with a teacher and parent guide.

The magazine is aimed at 4-11 year olds and aims to provide primary age children with the tools and information to understand the financial basics, giving them a solid basis for developing strong money management skills for the future.

Cash v cashless

This particular edition is all about the differences between digital ways to pay and traditional banknotes and coins.

‘One isn’t better than the other,’ explains Frank.

‘Cash and cashless are just different ways of paying for things.’

‘It’s a hard choice,’ says one girl, ‘but I think cash is good for some things and cashless is good for other things.

So cash would be good if you need to pay someone straight away because you can just take it out but cashless is better for handling money, I think, and for making sure it’s secure and that it’s safe.’

Bank of Ireland Financial Literacy for schools
Financial literacy

Ireland scores lower than some developed countries when it comes to basic financial literacy.

In 2017, Standard & Poor’s Global Financial Literacy Survey, the world’s largest measurement of financial literacy, identified 55% of Irish adults as financially literate compared to 66% of German adults and 71% of Swedish adults.

In response, experts like Frank suggest improving financial literacy from an early age.

‘Talking Cents with Ollie’ is part of Bank of Ireland’s wider programme of financial wellbeing for schools.

Different currencies

The pupils from St Raphaela’s split into small groups and take part in an exercise to try to identify banknotes from countries around the world.

I ask one group if they have ever seen any of the banknotes before.

Molly and several others have seen the US dollar before while Ciara thinks that one of the other notes could be Russian because of the style of writing on it.

But, while looking over the banknotes from countries across the world, something occurs to this group who all happen to be female.

The Indy newspaper has a map of countries who don’t have women on their banknotes here.

‘They are all men’

‘About the money,’ Rebecca says to me while we are talking about the banknotes, ‘in all the currencies they have pictures of presidents and they are all men.’

I ask her what she thinks about that and her answer is straightforward:

‘I think there needs to be more women!’

It turns out that there is only one woman on all the different banknotes, the Queen, who appears on the Canadian currency.

In a 2017 survey, Queen Elizabeth 2 appeared on 83 banknotes around the world more than any other man or woman.

‘Some people think men are more important’

I ask another pupil, Grace, why she thinks it is that only one woman appears on the selection of banknotes in front of the group.

‘I think some people think men are more important,’ she says.

I ask her if she thinks that way. ‘No,’ she says.

Grace’s view may indicate that any shift to a more gender-balanced future might be reflected on the world’s money.

The female pupils might be shocked to learn that women once used to have to give up work when they got married.

Bank of Ireland Financial Literacy for schools
Digital currencies

The class discussion turns to new digital currencies like Bitcoin and how they work.

The St. Raphaela’s pupils are impressed when they learn that when it was first created 1 Bitcoin was worth less than 1 US cent but is now worth over $9,000 US dollars.

They are also interested to learn that some of the first things bought with Bitcoin were 2 pizzas which cost 10,000 Bitcoin at the time which was the equivalent of $1oo million US dollars, in August 2019.

How bank accounts work

The class are also intrigued to know how exactly bank accounts work.

‘Can other people check what’s in your bank account if you give them your account details?’ asks one girl.

Frank reassures the class that if you give a legitimate business or person your details that does not allow them to see all your account information.

Another pupil asks, ‘how does your work know how to put money into your bank account and not somebody else’s?’ which starts a discussion about account numbers and sort codes.

Are men or women better at managing money?

When I talk to the mainly female groups of pupils and ask them whether women or men are better at managing their money there is a clear consensus that managing money is best left to women.

The reason?

‘Because they are always more organised’ and men are ‘a bit careless.’

The reason the girls think that men are ‘careless’ is that they believe they do not check what they are spending whether they use cash to pay or a card.

Bank of Ireland Financial Literacy for schools
Tracking spending

‘Tracking your spending by keeping receipts and making a note of what you are spending is important,’ emphasises Frank. ‘It doesn’t matter if you use cash or cashless.’

‘It’s about your personality not about whether you are a boy or a girl’

‘There are some women,’ says Darcy, who gives the question of whether men or women are better at managing money some thought, ‘who if they see something they like they’ll buy it but there are also some women who think ‘I really like it but if I come back in a while the price will have dropped’.

There are some men who are like that as well but there are also some men who think ‘oh, I like it, I’ll buy it now and not wait’.

I think it’s about your personality not about whether you are a boy or a girl.’

Are men or women better at managing their money?

I ask her whether, regardless of personality, she thinks women or men are better at staying on top of their spending.

‘I think women,’ she says.

Darcy’s view is backed up by this report that women are more financially responsible than men.

‘Because they are the ones who usually go out and buy stuff and they see how much money they pay for everything.

They are normally the people who say ‘I should buy this one instead of this one’ but some men might just come and buy the first thing they see because it’s there.’

Find out more

To find out more about Bank of Ireland’s Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship programme for primary and secondary schools including Talking Cents with Ollie, click here.

The programme also includes Bizworld, a 2-day entrepreneurship workshop for primary schools, plus School Banks, and TY Academy, a 3-day workshop on business and entrepreneurship.

All efforts were made to ensure that the information in this article was accurate at the time of original publication. The content of this article do not constitute financial advice.

Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Topic: Personal finance May 21, 2018
Author: Neil Cubley

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