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Online money challenge to help kids manage their cash

Stephanie Bennett, Claire Heaney, August 17, 2021 6:30PM News Corp Australia Network

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Year 11 student Abigail Lowden considers herself a bit of a saver, but is still surprised by her delivery and takeaway spending. Picture: Richard Walker. media_cameraYear 11 student Abigail Lowden considers herself a bit of a saver, but is still surprised by her delivery and takeaway spending. Picture: Richard Walker.


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Parents are worried our increasingly cashless* society is making it harder for teenagers to learn the value of money.

A recent survey of 1000 people conducted by the Financial Basics Foundation found 67 per cent of parents with 13 to 18-year-olds were concerned about their children’s understanding of the value of money. A similar proportion were also worried about the impact Covid-19 would have on their children’s financial future.

Financial Basics Foundation chief executive Katrina Samios said one in five teenagers were learning about money and investing from the internet or social media, with only 13 per cent learning about personal finance at school.

The survey coincides with the annual Suncorp ESSI Money Challenge, a free online resource for high schools starting next week, and Ms Samios said financial literacy was more important than ever as the pandemic accelerated* a shift to a cashless society.

Australian dollars with calculator, pen and magnifier media_cameraParents who have known hard currency their whole lives are concerned that the move to a cashless society means their children won’t learn the same important lessons about money management.

“The Financial Basics Foundation provides free financial literacy teaching resources to Australian secondary schools and we have been calling for some time now for financial literacy to be approached in a more systematic and consistent way within schools,” she said.

“Many young people leave school and start working with no real education about how to handle the money they are being paid.”

Kids participating in the challenge have the chance to win up to $1500 for themselves and their school, with more than 21,000 teens taking part in the past five years.

One of those set to compete is student Abigail Lowden, 16, who said she rarely carried physical cash.

Instead she uses her phone to swipe and pay, and said she was sometimes surprised by how much she had spent on home delivery and takeaway when she checked her monthly statements.

While confident she is well across her finances, Abigail was looking forward to taking part in the challenge to test just how much she knows.

“I am a bit of a saver,” Abigail said.

“When I started my part-time job, I had to set up bank accounts and things like that with the help of my parents.

“I’m hoping through the ESSI Money Challenge, I’ll get a better understanding around how to budget for costs in the future for things like everyday expenses.”

Hacker attack and data breach, information leak and cybersecurity concept. media_cameraThe survey found 4 per cent of teens fells for a threat or invested in a scam.

Parents also fear that kids who have lost part-time jobs, had their hours cut or fallen for online scams during the pandemic will face financial impacts for years to come.

The survey found that one in 10 teens ordered a product online that never turned up and around 4 per cent either fell for a threat-based scam or invested in something that turned out to be a scam.

These included threats to wipe computers unless $20 was paid or buying bogus crypto currency*.

The survey also raised concerns about new credit services replacing traditional lay-by, with 76 per cent of parents saying more education and regulation was needed.

Parents survey on kids cash and concerns about their finance know how media_cameraHarrison Douglas, 16, and his mum Christina Douglas. The Financial Basics Foundation survey found that 67 per cent of parents worry that the pandemic has affected their child’s understanding of money matters. Many have lost part time jobs and buying online so lost sight of what cash is. Picture: Jason Edwards.

Student Harrison Douglas, 16, just started a job at a fast food outlet but has had shifts cancelled due to lockdown.

He said he tried to use his banking app to put money aside and allocate some for discretionary* spending.

Harrison’s mum Christina, a careers teacher, said she used the ESSI resources for a range of classes and they were ideal for remote learning.

Suncorp everyday banking spokesman Dr Nick Fernando said teaching financial literacy was vital.


  • cashless: electronic and card payments rather than notes and coins
  • accelerated: moving faster; something happening at a greater rate
  • crypto currency: encrypted digital or virtual currency
  • discretionary: available for use, available by choice


Call for money lessons in schools

Let’s learn more about money

How Australia’s money has changed

How to talk to your parents about money


  1. Instead of using cash, how does Abigail prefer to pay for her purchases?
  2. What does Harrison use to put money aside?
  3. What percentage of parents worry about their child’s understanding of the value of money?
  4. What proportion of teens ordered a product online that never arrived?
  5. What percentage of teens had been scammed?


1. Part-time money
There are different laws regarding the age you are able to start work and they differ from state to state. For example, in Victoria, you can begin a paper or catalogue delivery round from 11 years old. If you work in a family business, you can be of any age.

If you would like to get a job around 14 years old, you can work part-time in a supermarket, cafe, shop and so forth. If you work two afternoons a week from 4-6pm and Saturday morning 9-12, you would be working 7 hours per week. If you earned approximately $70 per week, what would you do with this money each week?

Write your budget below:

Weekly budget – $70 per week ($280 per month)

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics

2. Extension
Do you know anything about buy now, pay later schemes replacing the traditional lay-by? Companies such as Afterpay and ZipPay? Explain how they work to a partner and how they differ from lay-by, which used to be used in shops and department stores but isn’t around much anymore.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics

Creative vocabulary
Find a bland sentence from the article to up-level. Can you add more detail and description? Can you replace any ‘said’ words with more specific synonyms?

Have you outdone yourself and used some really great vocabulary throughout your writing? First, well done. Second, let’s ensure everyone can understand it by adding a glossary of terms. Pick three of your wow words and create a glossary for each word to explain what it means.

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