Financial education: suggestions and tools

If financial culture was a school discipline, what grade would you have on your report card? Don’t worry if, in all honesty, you would give yourself a not so brilliant evaluation: in Italy, on this subject, there is some way to go, so you are probably in good company.

The knowledge of “basic” financial products and the risks associated with them, financial planning for your future and money management are, however, increasingly important skills that you need to begin to master.

An inter academic team made up of professors from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, the University of Milan Bicocca and Invalsi has developed, in collaboration with the PattiChiari Consortium, an “index of financial competence”, which shows – all in all – virtuous behaviour and a good mastery of the basic concepts of finance in Italy. On the other hand, however, there is a lack of familiarity in numerical calculation and a limited awareness of the functioning of the system of capitalization of interest.

To fill in the gaps, however, it is never too late, and to have a smattering of the main concepts you can also start from a tour on the internet.

The website of Borsa Italiana, for example, provides a glossary of over 1000 terms of economics and finance. Taking a look at the definition every time we hear a term that is unclear to us may help us to know a little bit and make us curious.

Consob – the guarantee body that is responsible for supervising the transparency of the stock exchange and protecting investors – dedicates a section of its website to financial education, making clear its intention to promote what it defines as the saver’s “ability to protect himself”. In short, those who are informed feel more secure, and in this section you can find monographic cards, calculation tools and a vademecum that accompanies the user with the basic rules to follow when you choose to invest your money, you enter into a contract with an intermediary, you keep informed about the development of your savings through the Internet. Assogestioni, the association of managed savings, also dedicates a space on its website to financial education.

Financial education, however, is not only made up of terms to learn and complex calculations: you can learn the main concepts and, above all, a sensitivity to the importance of a conscious use of money even by young and very young people, together with parents and teachers. The Bank of Italy, for example, makes available, also online, a series of teaching notebooks, designed for the different classes of primary and secondary schools. The title is very significant: Financial education – knowing to decide. And many different languages can be used to know and learn: one example is the “Economia Scuola” portal created by Pattichiari, the consortium of the Italian Banking Association, which aims to develop “tools and rules to promote a better bank-customer relationship based on simplicity, clarity, comparability and mobility”.

The proposals are aimed at both teachers and parents: they range from video lessons designed to develop sensitivity and competence on these issues to fairy tales, collected in a book entitled “Fiabe e denaro” (Fairy Tales and Money); useful films and links are recommended, there is even an online game to understand if you are “budding entrepreneurs” and there are also some cards that explain the basic economic concepts in a simple way. Particularly interesting, then, the section dedicated to parents, with proposals and tips to find the right way to talk about money to children. Because even the economic argument can be – sometimes – felt as a sort of “taboo”, dealing with it can be complicated or a bit uncomfortable.

Yet it can no longer ignore the importance, in an age when our children will probably be faced with much more delicate and demanding choices on the economic front than those made by the generation that preceded them.

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Financial education portal. How to introduce your child to finance? Discover accessible financial education for teens and adults. From specific terms to investments.