Consumers are lost in the financial maze, says new OU study

May 09, 2014

The figure equates to 34 million people. Yet, despite this lack of financial awareness, almost half of consumers never budget; one in ten simply cannot be bothered, 5% are in the red and see no point and 4% don’t know how to budget.

As a direct result of poor financial management, the research says, 42% of consumers – rising to 60% of those aged 25-34 – admit to suffering from stress, anxiety and sleepless nights.

The research has been published as the OUBS’s True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance launches a new interactive online course to help consumers navigate the personal financial maze.

It asked questions on everyday financial issues such as savings, tax, currency exchange and utilities.

Consumers admit that their current lack of financial knowledge stops them from making informed decisions around mortgages (44%) and pensions (43%) right down to everyday products such as ISAs (32%) loans (29%) and credit cards (20%).

With personal finance hitting the national curriculum in September, 35% of parents plan to brush up their knowledge to keep up with their children but 11% will delegate household finances to the children.

Martin Upton, director of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (PUFin), said: “The results of our recent survey paint a worrying picture for UK families, who are struggling to manage their finances despite signs of economic recovery.

"Many households face a financially devastating deficit each month, with bills outstripping income. Many other households have very little left for savings.”

Financial education will be compulsory in schools from September. The course Managing Your Money, which begins next week, is a Massive Open Online Course to help families better understand and manage their finances as well as keeping pace with their children, as they begin the new financial curriculum.

It will be available free of charge to the general public via the OU’s online social-learning platform FutureLearn. Audio-visual clips, interactive discussions and quizzes, and engaging resources will be offered on a weekly basis.

True Potential LLP managing partner David Harrison, a graduate of the OUBS, said: “Investing and finance can be simple-to-understand subjects that are frequently made very complicated and inaccessible.

"We have set up this centre to democratise finance and make financial education more readily available.

“These free courses will arm people with the knowledge and information they need to make informed decisions about their finances, or to ask the right questions of the right people.

"This will inevitably go a long way in helping to close the growing savings gap that exists in the UK today.”

The Managing My Money course is intended for those with an interest in developing their personal financial capability but who do not have previous experience studying the subject.

Lasting eight weeks, learners are expected to commit to around three hours of study each week. Managing My Moneystarts on Monday (May 12). More information on the course and how to register is available at FutureLearn.

The course will also be available through The Open University’s free education platform OpenLearn in the autumn. Deadline for course registrations is May 25. 

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