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Archived entry | Matt Wilcox .net

education? what for?

This is a topic which has come up a couple of times recently, so I figured I’d blog it. The first time was a few weeks ago at work, in amongst general finance related chatter. The second time was over at LAW amid general forum banter if I remember correctly.

Let me put you in the picture - I’m 24, and it’s only through chatting at work that I have become aware of the cost of living for most ‘normal’ people. I don’t include myself in that because I do not yet have my own home, a wife, nor kids. Until these work chats I have been largely naive about the cost of living. Sure, in my head I know it’s ‘expensive’ and if I cared to give it superficial attention I might work out that a wage of £25k would leave me flush, and maybe if I had a house it’d leave me comfortable, but not Mr Rich. Wrong. You see, there’s a list of expenses I hadn’t considered as long as all the snakes on a snakes and ladders board, strung end to end - and they will bite me and you in the ass. There’s a mortgage for starters, which runs a hell of a lot more expensive than I had anticipated. There’s council tax, stamp duty (I still don’t know what that actually is), water rates, electricity bill, gas bill, telephone bill, house insurance, property insurance, life insurance, car insurance, road tax, petrol, MOT, services, new tyres, food bills and National Insurance. Then there’s your pension, assuming you’re wanting to live past the age at which you retire. If you retire at 70, expect to live to 85 and started work aged 20 that means you need to save up at least ten years worth of wages purely for your pension (10 years wages would likely see you through 15years living fine if you’re not paying a mortgage). That’s assuming you managed to pay for everything else in the mean time. So, you work for 60 years, and have to save at least ten of those years wages. And that’s ten years full pay. That’s going to take at least 15 years to do, if you live in a cardboard box for most of those years. That leaves you with 45 years of income to see you through ages 20 - 70. Of course you will start in debt if you went to uni. In those years you have to pay all the bills mentioned above and try and enjoy life while you’re still living it.
Looking at the maths it becomes apparent just what kind of a wage you need to pull in simply to live in ‘nothing special’ land. That doesn’t include any luxuries, like a TV licence, a new car every five years, a new computer every five years, trips to the pub, holidays in the summer, etc.

To cut a long story short - I think this sort of thing should be taught at high-school level. I realise most kids won’t give a monkies, and they’ll just ignore it like they do RE. Fair play, but the aim of the game isn’t to make financial wizards out of the next generation - it’s to make sure they’re at least aware of some of the things that are going to hit their wallet once they enter the big wide world, and the kind of impact that will have on their dreams for the future.
The way the system works at the moment is like you trying to do a Latin exam when you’ve never been taught Latin, and you weren’t even really aware there was such a thing as ‘Latin’. For example I still don’t really know what is meant by ‘APR’, ‘endowment policy’, ’stamp duty’, ‘baseline inflation’ and very likely a host of other fairly vital terms - a few of which I probably don’t even know exist yet.

Education is geared toward the Academic. Too much so. For example, I have wasted years of learning about Geography, French, and German. I shall never need any of the knowledge gained from studying them. If you want to get pedantic I am highly unlikely to need Chemistry, RE, History or Music again either.
Obviously it’s important to get a broad background, so some subjects you studied at school are always going to be a waste of time for some people. I just think a more practical ‘life skills’ type class would be time better spent. Perhaps by year 9, when you’ve chosen your options and dropped a few classes they ought to start up a once a week ‘life lesson’ type class, where you learn about this sort of stuff. After all, the one thing you can pretty much guarantee from every pupil is they WILL go out into the big wide world, and they WILL need to face these issues. Basic politics would be another thing I’d throw in. I still don’t have a clue what left-wing and right-wing actually refer to. Left of what? Why ‘left’? What in hell is the House of Lords? Why should I care? I’m still not clear on what (traditionally) the Tories and Labour agendas actually are. And I’m supposedly educated. I don’t know the very basics of what makes this country tick How am I expected to vote confidently when I’m so massivly lacking in the very basics? I’m far from alone in this. It strikes me as recklessly irresponsible for a nation to bring up it’s young in order to rely on them in the future and not teach them anything of the way things work.

And that was my two pence/euros/cents.


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  1. GD posted 14hrs, 30min, 57sec after the entry and said:

    AT LAST ! your beginning to grow up. smiley icon: smile
    Your quote “I am highly unlikely to need Chemistry, RE, History or Music again either.”
    With luck you will come to appreciate Music again, although you have been away from it for a long time smiley icon: smile

  2. Matt Wilcox posted 15hrs, 3min, 30sec after the entry and said:

    Well, at 24 you’d kind of hope so really.

    As for music, I’ve not lost my passion for it, I simply mean that the academic side of Music is something I’m highly unlikely to need again. Music itself is a wholly different matter. And who knows, I might pick up my Bass again if I ever meet someone that can play a guitar and has spare time.

  3. MWF posted 23hrs, 50min, 26sec after the entry and said:

    Some Financial translations:

    APR - The annual amount you pay on a loan, usually a percentage of the total amount. I.e £1000 loan at a 10% APR you pay £100 a year. Usually painfully high when you are borrowing and sorely low when you are investing.

    Endowment Policy - Where you take out a mortgage and pay the payments but some of the payments go into stocks and shares which may pay it off earlier. See also “Loosing all your pension with bad investors.”

    Stamp Duty - Basically ‘buying a house tax’ yes it is a payment to the government you make for buying a house.

    Baseline inflation - Sort of supply and demand, i.e cost of everything. Usually found with a recession hiding behind it.

    Left Wing - Lets change how we do everything lets be radical, more welfare give Chavs everything for free.

    Right Wing - Burn the chavs, if it aint broke don’t fix it.

    House of Lords - Place where people who get paid to be fools go to sleep.

    Conservative Policies - Screw the middle class and lower class.

    Labour Policies - Screw the middle and upper class.

    Lib Dem Policies - Screw you all.

    BNP - Screw everyone who isn’t white.

    Monster Raving Loony Party - We have a screw loose.

    Kilroy Silk - I’m screwed.

    Robin Cook - I screw more than you think.

  4. rich posted 2 days, 19hrs, 7mins after the entry and said:

    I agree however I have done all that for my degree and my masters, however everybody needs a basic background in all areas to become well rounded people, if you know only your subject wouldn’t life be boring and wouldn’t you seem like an arrogant b****** in your subject and a thick chav in others.

  5. rich posted 2 days, 19hrs, 9mins after the entry and said:

    why the f*** does your f****** c*** of a t*** website put s*** stars in the swearwords, c*********?

    Matt says: Because that’s the civil thing to do Mr Evans sir. smiley icon: wink

  6. Matt Wilcox posted 2 days, 19hrs, 58mins after the entry and said:

    hahaa. The ancient swear filter finally get’s used.

    *adds cockjocky to the filter list*

  7. ben posted 24 days, 21hrs, 20mins after the entry and said:

    damn good points jimy on the whole how much life costs thing, I looked at my bank account today and thought ooh £100, then realised i have gas, elec and other bills pay, thought oh bugger, £30 short, gone are the days of old where £100 ment a £100 smiley icon: sad

  8. Rich posted 34 days, 2hrs, 7mins after the entry and said:

    just looked at the initial comment that is down as being from me which includes the word “chav”. This was clearly not from me (the one with all the stars was though!), but was written by maria. It makes sense what you’re saying, if people recieved education about the necessity for careful money management there would not be so many people in dire straits faced with crippling bills, however, as a grown-up it is really your responsibility to sort yourself out. Don’t listen to me though, i cashed my pension i last year so i wouldn’t have to work!

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