Monday, May 11, 2015

Young People Are Not Interested in Personal Finance?

There has been intense discussion sparked off from Lionel's post from cheerfulegg. He wrote about "Why don't people care about personal finance."

When I just started out on my financial journey in my early 20s, I was indeed lonely. I attended some events and seminars back then and realised I was a young person who stood out from among the older uncles and aunties. Sometimes when I look around, I would see weird stares from others. They must be thinking why am I even here? It made me uncomfortable. Fast forward to now when I'm in my late 20s, I recently attended another seminar event and I'm still the few young person among the older crowd. It still makes me uncomfortable. Where did all the young people go?

Finance is boring and complicated


The primarily reason why i think young people are not interested in personal finance is because they have the impression that it is boring and complicated. Its like we have been studying all the boring subjects in school and breath a sign of relief when it finally all ended. Young people go on overseas graduation trips just to relax and enjoy themselves. Now you want them to dive into some complicated finance stuff again? This would turn them off immediately.

A Catalyst that sparked my interest in finance

As a student in my teens, I was not at all interested in finance. In fact, I hated maths to the core and often fail my mathematics exams with a F9. Some people say to like finance, you have to like numbers. It is certainly not the case for me.

Finance is complicated to me. I would never learn it as long as its associated with maths. It was until when I went to army and read a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad which sparked the interest for finance in me. The story attracted me, the concepts were simple to understand.

That was all that was needed to change my mindset towards financial planning. I'm sure there are many of you who were drawn into finance because of some simple concepts as well. I do know many others who got interested in personal finance because of this one book alone.

Getting young people to be interested in personal finance

Older people get interested in personal finance naturally because they realised time is running out. For young people, we always say time is on our side or we still got a lot of time. Yes we still got a lot of time but all of us know that if we start early, we would be much better off in the future as compared to someone who starts later.

I started writing this blog just to pen down my thoughts with regards to personal finance. There were little people around my age who were interested in finance. SG Young Investment uniquely attracted mostly young people from secondary school, JC, Poly, ITE, University, NS, young adults and of course the adults as well. I've received emails from many students who were interested to explore the world of finance.

I realised now that there are indeed young people who are interested in finance. Earlier this year, I came to know of this investment club in NTU from my cousin. I was amazed at the outreach that they had to increase financial literacy for youths in Singapore. They have 5 main flagship events annually such as a Financial expedition, Singapore Financial Conference, National Cashflow competition and more.

One particular event called the national cash flow competition was an eye opener for me. They used a new financial board game called Asset Finesse which was created and designed in Singapore. The amazing thing is the event was participated by more than 45 schools in Singapore with more than 500 participants. I went down to take a look and even helped out as one of the facilitators just to see how the students play and learn financial concepts.

The verdict? The event was a huge success and seeing how the students learn the importance of financial planning through a fiancial board game is heartwarming. I feel the organizers and committee did a very good job in planning out the whole event. Bear in mind that this whole event is organized solely by the students of NTU themselves.

The board game is designed to simulate our life in Singapore so players will understand the impact of the financial decisions that they make. They will also know how realistic it is to achieve financial independence even in a high cost of living city like Singapore. You can buy and sell stocks, unit trusts, bonds, properties like HDB, condominiums, start a business and even the CPF is included in the gameplay.

National Cashflow competition is an event where I saw the most number of young people in a financial setting. There were some adults too but this time the older people were the minority as compared to the young people. Secondary school students as young as 13 participated actively and now know how to record their own balance sheet.

Here are some pictures to show you the highlights:

Images credit to NCF 2015

What can we do?

I've been thinking very hard on how to reach out to more young people to get them interested in finance. In the meantime, I hope to bring the board game to all of you here and build a vibrant financial community in the process. Do give me some time while discussions are underway.

Leave a comment below or drop me an email at if you're interested in a board game session with other peeps here and within the community so I roughly know what to expect. It will be a small group session so we can interact better with each other.

What other ways can we explore to get more people interested in personal finance matters? Feel free to give your suggestions below as well.

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  1. Count me in the board game session!


    1. Hi Shawn,

      Thank you for your interest. Keep a look out for the next session. I'll be posting it on my blog and Facebook Page when the time comes.

  2. Sounds interesting. Do count me in too!:)


    1. Hi EY,

      Sure. Thanks for indicating your interest. I've also received emails from quite a few individuals as well as couples who are interested. It'll be a fun gathering. Stay tune for it.

  3. I don't think it's about the difficulty or obscurity of finance-- indeed, it seems like almost every other one of my friends is pursuing a finance-related major in poly/college.

    Instead, I feel that it has to do more with relevance. While you might (rightfully) argue that building a strong financial foundation early on is the key to a smooth later life, the fact is that young people live in the now, and because they can't reap the rewards of compounding interest now, are simply not interested.

    Abstaining from present joy for future enjoyment is already a tough sell to any sensible adult. Now imagine the future is decades away, and the clients are "young people".

    1. Hi Daniel,

      We'll never plan ahead unless we look into the future. Young people actually do plan. They plan for their wedding, they plan for their purchase of a house and so actively try to find out all available information to get their photoshoot, their banquet and so on. It boils down to do we think it is necessary to plan? Do we need to plan ahead for our finances? If we can't say a definite YES to these 2 question, then we'll always stay on the sideline.

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Joanna,

      Thank you for your interest. Sure will count you in :)

  5. may I ask which event/seminar do you attend or recommend to attend?

    1. Hi kelvin,

      I learn most of my investment stuff from books and help from friends. If you want to attend seminars, you can consider the courses under SGX academy. They have free courses for begineers.