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Financial Education for young people

The Endz Session on ‘Money’ for young people aged 13-19 years

Cassius cropped

Blog by Cassius Francis

TCT’s Just Finance Black County Development Worker

Most of my work over the last few months has been focussed on how we can equip churches and organisations supporting people with money worries during the Covid-19 pandemic and this has primarily been through the delivery of the Covid Cash Course. However, there are also occasional requests to deliver bespoke sessions for groups as an introductory session about money.

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Social Media flyer for the session

A church plant for young people

The Endz is a church plant that started in May as an initiative under the Wesleyan Holiness Church. The focus of this start up is to support young people aged 13 to 19 and their families to positively impact their local communities by using Christian values under the leadership of husband and wife co-pastors, Richard and Jedine Daley. Richard and Jedine have hearts to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in relevant and practical ways supporting people to become their best version of themselves in Him. Their passion to focus on practical support for young people through The Endz led them to inviting me to talk to the young people about money in two one-hour sessions 6-7pm for 13-15s and 8-9pm for 16-19s, but they have also had sessions focussing on issues like social justice, racism and dealing with life during lockdown.

Although my background is in youth and community work before ordained ministry it felt like a very long time since I have done any direct work with young people. I didn’t want to assume that I knew what they wanted so I consulted with two representatives, one from each age group and ran the session plan past Richard and Jedine. The feedback for planning indicated that they wanted to session to be as interactive as possible, with some practical information for them to take away and they were also curious about why the church would be interested in doing this kind of teaching about money.

The format for both sessions were similar, but some of the exercises were differentiated to take into account the different age groups – 13-15s focussed on life in secondary school, 16-19s group had a mixture of young people transitioning to sixth form or college, some taking a year out, some going on to university in September and some already in employment. The original aim of The Endz was to meet face-to-face with young people, but this session and others so far have used Zoom online for delivery. There are some useful functions that the technology will allow for interactivity, however I was conscious that the young people join on very different devices so rather than spending too much time on different options like break out rooms and annotations (where the young people could write their own comments on screen), I followed a format of short presentation followed by discussion/feedback with the whole group, then back to short presentation/video. The other advantage of using this technology is that young people could join from around the country – most for this session were from Birmingham and London. Eleven young people attended each session, they were both mixed gender groups (60% girls and 40% boys) and all from Black British African and Caribbean heritage backgrounds.

Jesus Money

As an opening icebreaker to the session, I used four questions from Jesus Money cards and asked each young person to introduce themselves and respond to one of the questions -

  1. What have you learned at school about money?
  2. How often do you think about money?
  3. What is most important to you when you think about buying something - cost, value or ethical considerations?
  4. If you inherited £1 million what would you do with it?

The responses from the young people gave me a real sense of some of their thoughts money and also their experience. Most said that they had not done any learning about money at school, although one young person recalled doing something in year 5 (aged 10). One young person said that they thought about money ‘a lot’ from the perspective of preparing for their future. When it came to their priorities when thinking about buying something cost and value were most important. I was keen to stress that there were no right or wrong answers because this was just about hearing their own experiences and perspectives, and of course allowing them to introduce themselves. Some of the young people had attended sessions with the Endz before, but a number were attending for the first time. Richard and Jedine follow strict safeguarding procedures for the online sessions, so that the young people are identified and named correctly before they are admitted into the session. For the introduction the young people are also asked to show themselves on camera to verify who they are, and then most turned their cameras off for the duration of the session until they were responding to a specific question.

I found the responses to question 4 particularly interesting because far from the opportunity to spend one million pounds extravagantly, all of the young people who selected the question shared about plans to invest in property, donating to charity and one even talked about their pension plan – far more mature than I was as a teenager! Another talked about selling their paintings as a business and donating money to young people who had been affected by the port explosion in Beirut.

Following the icebreaker, I shared a music video GimmeDat by PCU-Money ft. Tneek to ask the young people for their opinions about the key message. The song talks about the importance of peer pressure and social media for young people to maintain a certain image. I was particularly interested to find out if the young people felt that the message was still relevant in our Coronavirus-affected world because it was produced in 2016. All of the young people agreed that it was still relevant and talked about the challenges in not solely being image-led in their choices about spending.

For the younger group, I asked the young people to do a compare and contrast with a second video entitled How to Save Money. This video is clearly for a younger audience and the two characters featured are African American with an older man talking to a girl about how she makes choices about spending and saving. I wasn’t sure whether the young people would think this would be too childish because it is clearly aimed at ‘kids’. However, both in my consultation beforehand and with the session itself the young people commented positively on the key message to think about saving, particularly in contrast to the first video.

Budgeting is a key skill to learn at any age

The main item from my point of view was to introduce the young people to budgeting. In simple terms I defined it as balancing your income with your spending. The young people talked about earning money from babysitting, gardening, birthday money and also spending on clothes and food (takeaways), so they got it straightaway but most hadn’t done any budgeting before (in either the younger or older age groups). I shared about three budgeting tool options by the Money Advice Service (online), StepChange (budget sheet) and Moneysavingexpert.com (Excel spreadsheet). I also talked through the three pot method of basic money management again with the aid of a short video (without sound). The film is American and again aimed at a younger audience, but after checking it with my youth representatives I opted to use it because I know that a lot of people find this method of budgeting much easier to understand. In addition, because of the Christian context of The Endz I liked the emphasis on one pot to save, one pot to spend and one pot to give – the inclusion of giving from a faith perspective or donating to a charitable cause was important for the context. It started some interesting discussions about what percentage of your finance should you put in each pot if for example you earned £100, and also what would make sticking to the three pot principle difficult. One young person talked about what might be difficult if there was a change of plans, a sudden/unplanned invitation to go out with friends. Another talked about going to university and making lots of friends with too many birthdays to buy presents for! I tried not to provide definitive solutions but allowed the young people to share their own ideas.

I briefly introduced the option of using budgeting Apps that the young people could access on mobile phones, and I was quite surprised that none of the young people had accessed any before – particularly from the older age group, although some monitored their finances via their existing banking Apps. I also shared with the groups about ethics in saving and credit unions with a short video from Pentecostal Credit Union.

Jesus spoke a lot about money

The third part of the session looked at five things that Jesus said/did with regards to money. I originally planned to include the first four, but one of the youth representatives asked me to include the fifth set of verses –

  1. Luke 4:18 – the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor
  2. Matthew 6:19 – Do not store up for yourselves treasures
  3. Matthew 6:24 – You cannot serve both God and money
  4. Luke 3:14 – Don’t extort money and don’t accuse
  5. John 2:14-15 – In the temple courts he [Jesus] found men selling, cattle, sheep and doves… he drove all from the temple area…

With each of the five scriptures (displayed via shared screen) I just asked the young people to re-phrase them in their own words. Bearing in mind that both groups were made up of young people from churched and non-churched backgrounds it was encouraging that all of them were willing to engage and share their own reflections.

I ended the session with an invitation that the young people could contact me via Richard or Jedine if they had any further questions about money or wanted to clarify anything. I saved the PowerPoint slides as PDFs so that Richard and Jedine could distribute them to the young people via WhatsApp.

The all important feedback!

Some of the comments from the young people were –

  • Kyle, 13, I found it really helpful talking about budgeting because it teaches us to be wise for the future
  • Helen, 13, I found the session useful because I am planning on starting my own business in a couple of months
  • James, 18, The most helpful thing for me was the budgeting tools because I am planning to go to university in September, but also the links to the scriptures
  • Neesha, 19, The interactions and questions were really helpful. Also the personal experience to give everyone an idea/insight on what to expect, what not to do about budgeting. Thank you for the PDF that is really useful with the references for further information. The Bible scriptures and the way you interpret them into the concept gave people another way to look into things.

Richard and Jedine have asked for a possible follow up sessions because there were a number of young people who could not attend for a variety of reasons.

I am grateful to Elaine Bowes and some of the Youth Shadow Board members from Pentecostal Credit Unionwho attended and contributed to the session with the 16-19s.

Further resources and information

The Student Money Manual 2019-20 (free download)

Your Money Matters Financial Education Textbook - Your Money Matters has been designed for use with young people age 14 – 16 and covers topics including spending and saving, borrowing, debt, insurance, student finance & future planning (free download)

Money Management - from planning your monthly spending budget to finding the best deal at the supermarket, here's lots of handy tools to support you and your finances

Financial Capability of 15-17 year olds (report)

Money Makes Change is ECCR’s programme for individuals and churches. The way we spend, save and invest money has a huge impact on the world around us

Savvy Wallet – Personal Finance (videos)

Financial Style - by Merisha Stevenson from New Style Radio 98.7 fm

Revd Cassius Francis is the Just Finance Development Worker for the Black Country (with Transforming Communities Together in the Diocese of Lichfield) and he is a minister with the Wesleyan Holiness Church. For further information please see https://tctogether.org.uk/initiatives/jfbc