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Let's talk about money


Money Week takes place this year between Monday 14 August and Sunday 20 August. This year’s theme is around debt, particularly the question “What does debt do for you?”

To celebrate Money Week we invite Tom Hartmann, finance editor for the Commission for Financial Capability, to share his views around money.

My early money experiences


I grew up overseas in a large family so my early experiences with money were that there wasn’t that much to go around. At school the other kids might have $5 to spend on pizza for lunch; I would typically have $2.

My parents worked hard, walked a tightrope with our finances, and at times carried debt to make it all work. Having said that, we were wealthy in many other ways and we always had what we needed. 

As a teen, I worked around the neighbourhood mowing lawns and painting houses. I mostly spent my earnings on concerts and travel. I never did any long-term saving. That was something I didn’t learn until much later.

Teach financial capability early

These days I’m raising three kiwi kids of my own and I think it’s fundamental that they learn how to manage money well. 

Children can establish their attitudes towards money as early as age seven, so it’s important for both parents and teachers to engage and help lift kids’ financial capability from a young age. It is an area where we can tangibly influence their well-being for years to come. 

The world of money is now much more complex, and kids hardly see us handling cash anymore, just swiping or waving a card and it all just happens. This makes teaching them about how money really works more challenging.

Possible teaching approaches


In The New Zealand Curriculum, financial capability is recognised as a context for effective cross-curricular teaching and learning programmes, and it is supported with resources from NZC Online

Financial capability is about students understanding how money works, how it is part of their lives, and being equipped to make informed choices for their future.

Financial capability is a great context for exploring enterprise, goal-setting, giving, and community participation. An authentic, hands-on approach, such as managing finances for a school camp or a building project, helps students experience how money is involved in their every day. They can gather the information, skills, and behaviours that help people make money decisions.

Students can also explore their own values and habits with money and those of others, and how financial capability contributes to wellbeing for themselves and their families.

What is Money Week all about?

Money Week is an annual series of events across New Zealand, where schools, communities, government and the private sector get involved to focus on financial capability.

This year’s theme is around debt, particularly the question “What does debt do for you?” If debt increases wellbeing it can be a good thing, but often it can become a drag and keep us from getting ahead.

Children may not have a lot of experience with debt, but they can already know the feeling that comes with borrowing and then owing someone, which typically isn’t great. Money Week offers the perfect opportunity to explore lending and borrowing in a way that can positively influence kids’ attitudes towards debt throughout their lives.

This year Money Week falls on the same week as Maths Week, so there will be clear opportunities for both events to support each other and showcase “money maths”.

Supporting resources

Money Week
This official Money Week website features advice and school resources. You can ask questions or share your experiences and tips about debt on the Sorted Community Forum.

Money Week on NZC Online
This events page offers resources and stories to support your school's involvement in Money Week, and to help your school make financial capability an ongoing area of curriculum focus.

Financial capability