Sam Dunn: It's common sense at last, but out of the mouths of babes

The 'yoof of today' are more grounded than we think, and maybe they'll sound the death knell of our spend, spend, spend culture

"Look, bro, it doesn't work like that - you won't always make a load [of money] and, if you mess up, you can lose it all easy," says the first boy, referring to stock markets.

"I reckon I'll get a house, though," his pal retorts, "when I'm in a job... and make money on that instead. Yeah, get a box place but do it up nice and move on to something bigger. The girls'll love that."

It was too much to ask for them to include pensions - and - at that tender age, probably a good thing for their health.

But if this banter between a couple of teenagers overheard in a tatty part of north London recently is anything to go by, the financial future of this country might not be as gloomy as predicted.

Clarion calls for Britons to save more, invest more, curb excessive spending, avoid racking up heavy debts and generally look after their personal finances are 10-a-penny these days.

Concerned at a populace in hock to credit and mortgaged up to the eyeballs while failing to save for retirement, politicians and business leaders are desperate to get the message for prudence out there.

So the confidence and knowledge of the two boys was illuminating: no financially illiterate "yoof" here. Clearly the message is getting through at one level, and, arguably, it's the most important level of all.

If such an attitude can carry on through their late teens, into their twenties and onwards, then there's definitely hope for a less credit-dependent nation.

Of course, much lies in their way - it's all very well being clued up when you're young and have little money to fritter away. It'll be a different story with a monthly salary coming inand banks and retailers desperate to push credit card and loan deals under their noses.

My biggest worry for them is today's spending culture - fuelled chiefly by a surging materialism and historically cheap credit - that often threatens to drown out everything else.

In a speech on the importance of long-term saving last week, Stephen Haddrill, director general of the Association of British Insurers, drilled it home. "We must attack the spending culture - as long as the word on the streets is that it doesn't pay to save, people will do other things with their money."

It's hard to disagree and such a sentiment is worth spreading.

But not every messenger gets it right. Last week also saw another crucial effort to drive home the importance of kicking the spending habit, but its impact was deadened by a crass and thoughtless approach.

David Cameron's Conservative Party is the culprit, its blunt tool a debt website called sort-it.co.uk. This sounds harmless enough but log on and consumers are offered three startling options: "Take the tosser test", "see the tosser inside", or - intriguingly - "look what my tosser did".

Click through a few pages and it becomes clear that the "tosser" in question is the impulse to overspend on credit cards. The site is actually helpful and offers some basic debt advice. But aside from possible revulsion at the vulgarity, website users might also genuinely take umbrage at the implied tone: that being in debt is idiotic.

It may well be for some credit-card junkies but there are millions of others for whom debt is a lifeline, a lifesaver and a vital tool that can be ably managed to keep personal finances in order.

A Tory spokeswoman says: "Not in a million years [are we] saying [consumers] shouldn't do their best for their families. But we are saying that there's a big problem out there." She is right on the latter point but such a mixed message on debt helps nobody.

The clumsy execution of a decent website undid good work earlier in the week when the party called for school pupils to learn how to tackle personal finances.

Maybe the politicians themselves could take a lesson or two.

s.dunn@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

    £13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

    Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

    Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

    £35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

    Day In a Page

    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
    What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

    What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

    Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
    Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

    Are you a 50-center?

    Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
    The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

    Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

    The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
    Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

    Hollywood's new diet trends

    Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
    6 best recipe files

    6 best recipe files

    Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
    Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

    Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

    Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Atwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works