The Street Finance program is designed to improve the financial literacy levels of high school students in Melbourne by teaching them about valuable financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.
Young Melburnians are being empowered to make informed decisions on a range of financial matters thanks to an innovative program by the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE).
Launched in 2015, the Street Finance program involves third-year Bachelor of Commerce students visiting high schools to explain practical financial concepts and shape financial attitudes and behaviours of school students.
The program aims to rectify the dearth in financial literacy among young people and covers simple issues like choosing the right bank, credit card or mobile phone contract, to complex matters like superannuation.
Professor of Finance at the FBE Carole Comerton-Forde says that the program reaches 300 – 400 high school students, many of whom are excited that someone is talking to them about managing money for the first time.
“It gets the high school students engaged and thinking about the real world because they are talking about money with someone who is only a few years older than them and willing to share knowledge,” she says.
Teddy Hookey was one of 20 students who participated in the program this year. He admits the experience taught him about his own financial knowledge and recommends his peers enrol in the program as well.
“I found it to be really cool. Easily the hardest part, which I am grappling with till today, is to explain basic financial concepts to people who don’t understand it,” Hookey says.
“As a commerce student you understand things like interest rates but it tests how well you understand these basic concepts because explaining it is incredibly difficult. I did not foresee that. I really enjoyed the experience and the skill of learning how to explain basic financial literacy to people who don’t know about it has really stuck with me and I hope to carry it over to the professional world.”
Comerton-Forde says that the program enables university students to deliver financial knowledge that is both appealing and engaging, a characteristic that has had a positive knock-on effect on their confidence and attitude towards money.
For university students the stories are universal. This is the first time in their life that they have engaged with their personal financial situation. Professor Carole Comerton-Forde
“It contributes significantly to their financial literacy since teaching is an effective way to make sure that you understand information.”
The program is currently evaluating their impact on students’ financial literacy levels through a research project.