Kids get the lowdown on money

MONEY MAESTROS: Halle Tapatu (holding number 1) is the 400,000th student to go through ASB’s GetWise programme.
MONEY MAESTROS: Halle Tapatu (holding number 1) is the 400,000th student to go through ASB’s GetWise programme.

The importance of money management skills is being instilled in schoolchildren to raise the next generation of financial maestros.

Programmes such as ASB's GetWise and SavY, a student-run charitable trust, aim to encourage young students to be better savers and develop good financial habits.

GetWise was launched in 2010 and is the country's largest youth financial literacy programme targeted at primary and intermediate students.

The free interactive sessions cover topics from mastering the basics of money management through to learning lifelong money-smart skills.

This month Halle Tapatu from Auckland's Orewa North Primary School became the 400,000th student to go through the GetWise programme.

The 10-year-old said the programme made her think twice about what she spent her money on.

"I like to spend my money on clothes and skateboards but I have learned how to save for bigger things," Halle said.

"I'm saving up for a longboard and to go to university so I can become a police officer."

She hoped to encourage her friends to "save up for things they really want" and to share their creative money management tips.

Orewa North Primary School principal Bruce Laws said the programme also gave students an understanding of what money is.

"Not long ago, kids thought money grew on trees because they saw the physical cash often, but now it's all in plastic, so it's difficult for children to understand where money actually comes from.

"It's hugely important to lay the foundations in the early stages of children's lives and set them up for when they are older," Laws said.

Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox said it was important to introduce money concepts at a young age.

"The ability to understand how to manage money is a lifelong skill," she said.

"It is a habit you have to learn. The younger you learn these habits, the more likely you will be to carry them when you're older."

GetWise workshops are developed by ChangeLabs, an independent behavioural change and education organisation. Facilitators adapt the programme to suit individual students.

ASB spokesman Roger Beaumont said the bank worked with schools and students across New Zealand from a range of different backgrounds including low decile, bi-lingual and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori Schools.

"We have also adapted the programme for rural students making it more relevant for their communities and children with special needs," Beaumont said.

"In Invercargill we ran workshops for a group of Year 1 to 8 deaf students and special workshops have been held for children at Northern Health School at Starship Children's Hospital."

Last month, ASB was awarded the Canstar Youth Banking Award recognising its success in school banking and the work of the GetWise programme which has reached over 55 per cent of primary and intermediate schools around the country.