Skip to main content

Financial education and evidence: young people's money matters


The money advice serviceThis blog was written by Ann Griffiths (Senior Policy Manager, Children & Young People at the Money Advice Service) as part of Talk Money Week - an annual celebration of the work thousands of organisations are doing to improve money management across the UK, and aims to get more people talking about money. The Money Advice Service have been using evidence and evaluation to improve understanding and delivery of effective financial education for children and young people.

The experiences and lessons learned about money when we’re young can have a direct impact on how we manage money well later in life. Through research, we’ve shown that children start to learn vital money skills and habits between the ages of 3 and 7, and as young people develop into their teens, they need to be given increasing responsibility for managing and making choices with money, and learn the skills they’ll need for living independently.
Too many young people are entering adulthood without being prepared for the money-related challenges and realities that lie ahead. In our nationally representative survey of 5000 children and young people and their parents across the UK, we found that only half of children save regularly, less than 4 in 10 14-17 year olds plan ahead for how they’ll buy things they need, and almost 1 in 5 16-17 year olds have no bank account at all; a far greater proportion don’t use the accounts they have.
Happily, education about money can make a difference. While people often think of financial education as something that happens in school, we’ve shown that the role of parents and carers is key, and support through youth and community settings is the third essential part of the puzzle, potentially offering the only or best source of learning for those who lack role models or find it hard to engage with formal learning. Projects MAS funded through the ‘What Works Fund’ included some 18 that worked with children, young people, young adults, or families, several in the youth sector, many demonstrating significant impacts on skills, knowledge, mindset, and in some cases, young people’s financial behaviour too. You can find the results on our Evidence Hub.
Just over a fifth of the 130+ financial education interventions we’ve mapped across the UK report delivery through youth or community settings. Provision tends to skew towards older age groups, and is scattered in pockets geographically. Only a tiny proportion of the reach of financial education is targeted at children and young people with specific additional needs. While there are great things happening, there’s always more that could be done, and in the youth and community sector, we’d like to see more financial education delivered to young people who may be at greater risk of lower levels of financial capability, and more support for practitioners who already work young people, to build financial capability into their existing support.
We also have tools to help those in children’s and youth services deliver and measure the impact of financial education, such as a suite of outcomes frameworks and question banks, and we fund a Financial Education Quality Mark to make sure everyone working with young people has access to high quality, engaging resources.
At MAS we’re now working to turn the knowledge we’ve gained from our research into need, provision, and evidence of what’s effective, into commissioning and strategy recommendations for future work on children and young people. We’d love to hear from you if you’re working with young people to help them manage money better, would like to do more of this, or have ideas for what help is needed to make more of this happen in community and youth settings – you can drop us a line at
Even if you’re not working on it at the moment, there’s something everyone can do to take the first step to helping more young people learn about money – start a conversation. This week is Talk Money Week – find out more about the events and activities planned and engage with us on social media for tips and techniques for doing this and lots more!