Home Finance University Challenge's Bobby Seagull's top tips for talking to children about money

University Challenge's Bobby Seagull's top tips for talking to children about money

TV mathematician and educator Bobby Seagull has made a call for more partnerships to be established between schools and financial experts. Speaking ahead of National Numeracy Day (Wednesday, May 22), the teacher stressed the need for better financial literacy among individuals.

He also urged parents to have conversations with their children about finance, to combat its image as a “taboo” subject. Seagull conceded that it’s “OK” for parents to admit if they struggle with numeracy.

The University Challenge alumnus has aligned with Vanquis Bank in launching a collection of simple video guides aimed at demystifying financial terminology. These videos are freely available on the banks website and social media platforms.

Asked to explain why some find financial terms daunting, Seagull suggested past challenging experiences with maths could contribute. The broadcaster emphasised that these negative encounters can often lead to avoidance in dealing with anything number related.

In an interview with the PA news agency, Seagull pointed out: “Because they’ve got a challenging experience of maths at school, they think anything to do with numbers, their mind goes blank.”

He elaborated, stating that people even show avoidance when faced with financial statements or terminology like APR (annual percentage rate) or AER (annual equivalent rate a term used on savings accounts to help compare returns). This behaviour, he believes, is rooted in their previous problematic affairs with maths during schooling.

Failure to fully comprehend terms and conditions or the language of finance can lead to unexpected expenses or meagre interest rates, potentially blocking people from comparing financial products and swapping for a better deal.

In a recent survey by OnePoll for Vanquis, 10% of participants admitted that they avoided actively managing their finances due to confusion surrounding financial jargon. This survey, conducted in April, included 2,000 respondents.

A worrying 22% stated their confidence with money was reduced due to the befuddlement caused by complex financial terms.

Mr Seagull expressed concern that some people might simply be wishing for “things work out” by month-end.

He also cautioned that parents could unwittingly transmit their own worry about cash onto children, stating: “The children will see mum and dad not looking at personal finances, hoping that things just work out… so it becomes a vicious cycle.”

A recent YouGov poll involving over 1,000 teachers on behalf of the Government-funded Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) discovered that a significant 76% believe the vast majority of pupils leave education without enough financial wisdom for adulthood.

Subjects including maths and numeracy, citizenship, and personal development are used to teach finance across all four UK nations’ curriculums.

MaPS has revealed a £1.1 million investment in financial education over the past year, declaring that schools, parents, funders, financial institutions and providers of financial education all play a critical role in reaching out to more youngsters.

Mr Seagull agreed with PA, stating: “I would say yes, but nowhere near enough, because we know that young people now, they’re bombarded by much more information.”

Mr Seagull asserted that today’s youth understand the importance of financial education.

He proposed that more collaborations involving schools and financial experts should occur.

Mr Seagull added: “There should be more partnerships with experts, whether it’s credit card companies, banks, financial institutions working with schools, to deliver this sort of education.”

Discussing parents’ contribution, he urged them to admit to their children if numeracy is challenging for them, adding: “It’s OK to admit to children that they find it tricky, but do something about it and do it with them… The thing is having that openness. The more you can have open conversations with children, the more it becomes less taboo.”

Credit card provider Vanquis partners with charity organisation National Numeracy, which organises National Numeracy Day.

A OnePoll survey identified that almost a quarter (24%) of individuals aged between 18 and 24 resort to social media platforms like TikTok for financial guidance.

The survey uncovered that a staggering 30% of individuals have been compelled to educate themselves about their finances due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Paul Lloyd, Vanquis Bank’s marketing director, commented: “The high cost of living has stretched household budgets to the max for millions.”

The guides, endorsed by Plain Numbers, demystify fundamental financial concepts including credit scores, persistent debt, and AER.


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