Financial Literacy Lesson One: Current Accounts for Students


According to the 2019 Young Persons’ Money Index report, 64% of students have access to financial education at school, compared to only 29% in 2015, when it was introduced onto the national curriculum. Whilst this is an improvement, 82% would still like to learn more in school and as the National Curriculum is only compulsory in state schools, several students in other establishments (independent schools, academy chains) report they do not learn about financial literacy at school. It’s safe to say more needs to be done and schools are best placed to provide an equitable and inclusive approach to financial education for all young people.


School Should Be is committed to helping young people access the information they want to be learning at school. It is also a platform for teachers to access resources and articles that will be useful for their students. We asked Jay, a chartered accountant with 5 years’ experience working at a Big 4 Accounting firm to break down some of the lessons in financial literacy students should be learning at school. Let’s kick off with the ins and outs of current accounts.


WHAT IS A CURRENT ACCOUNT AND DO I NEED ONE?

A current account is simply a bank account used for storing and withdrawing money. It is the most common type of account and where most people will receive their salary. It is also used by the majority to pay bills or for other purchases, using a debit card, reducing the need for cash.


I’d recommend opening up a current account as soon as you can. Most young persons’ accounts can be opened with £1. Even if you don’t have a part-time job it’s a useful place to hold any pocket money or cash gifts.


There are three benefits to opening up a current account whilst still at school:

  • Financial Independence & Money Management

  • Earn Interest

  • Flexibility & Safety



FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE & MONEY MANAGEMENT

Taking control of your own finances teaches you valuable life skills and gives you a sense of responsibility over your own money. The ability to track your finances using online banking / apps will mean you can monitor your finances in real-time and track your progress against savings goals and decide how much / what you can spend your money on.


EARN INTEREST

Putting money into a bank account will enable you to earn interest. The bank will pay you interest (a % of the total balance you have in your account) for simply putting your money into their bank.


FLEXIBILITY AND SAFETY

In an increasingly digital world, fewer people are using cash to pay for goods and services. You’ll only be able to get a debit card if you open up a current account and this will allow you to make payments online but also withdraw cash if you need it. A debit card is safer as well because in the case of theft or loss you can contact your bank and report your card as stolen or lost and this will prevent anyone from being able to use it.


AS A STUDENT, WHAT CURRENT ACCOUNTS SHOULD I LOOK INTO?

You can open up a current account from 11 years old, but you might need some help from your parent or guardian. When deciding where to bank it’s important to think about what you want to get from your current account.

  • Are you trying to maximise the interest you earn?

  • Do you want the convenience of an app or online banking to monitor your income and spending?

  • Is there a certain perk or offer such as discounts on driving lessons that will be most beneficial to you?

These might seem like ‘adulting’ questions, but you can absolutely think about them and your behaviours from a young age – it’s a great lesson in practical financial literacy.

Once you’ve figured out what you need, it’s all about comparing accounts to find the best fit for you. Banks are always refreshing the accounts they offer, I use the website Money Saving Expert, by Martin Lewis, which regularly refreshes articles to see what the best offers are and highlights the pros and cons of each account.


Remember, these articles and ‘lessons’ are a general intro to money for young minds; for more information on the ins and outs of a current account, check out this very useful blog here.


Jay is a chartered accountant who took an unconventional route into his career – it didn’t start with university. Feel free to contact Jay for more info! The above is not intended to provide advice and is the personal view of the author.