South Africa is at the bottom of the financial literacy class according to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD/INFE International Survey of Adult Financial Literacy Competencies questioned 50,000 people aged between 18 and 79 and found that, on average, only 56% of adults across the 30 participating countries achieved a score of at least five out of seven, the minimum target score. South Africa was at the bottom of the list, barely reaching a 30% score.
But help is on its way for all South Africans in the form of a free financial literacy app – the Grey High App.
Grey High School educator Simon Sonderup’s 2014 life-skills booklet, “Don’t Be Fooled, Make Smart Decisions”, has been converted into the Grey High App by Brydon Leonard of Hello World Code, and is now available for free download in the Google Play Store.
“It’s aimed at those starting out in life – school leavers and graduates – and is available in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa” says Sonderup. “The app aims to promote responsible financial management so that readers can avoid making financial mistakes as they start their working lives. I strongly believe that having financial knowledge now will save financial stress later and equip youngsters to avoid potential pitfalls in everyday life.”
“But”, adds Paul Leonard CFP®, regional head (EC) at Citadel who has partnered with this project, “this app has many more uses. Teachers can use it as a resource for themselves as well as a classroom tool. The app complements the Mathematical Literacy and Life Orientation syllabuses and the content can serve as a point of departure for teaching concepts in these two subjects.”
It may be aimed at school leavers and graduates, but the app has practical knowledge and application for anyone wishing to learn more about financial matters and to develop crucial life skills.
The app provides information on all aspects of personal finance, from buying a car to understanding compound interest to managing debt and credit rating. Each topic looks at certain preconceptions which readers may have, such as: “I will look after things; I don’t need insurance” and “A car is cheap to own”. The reality is then discussed – for example, why certain insurance is worth having and that cars are actually expensive in South Africa.
Readers will learn about how each aspect of personal finance works, including examples and calculations. In the retirement section, for example, a table shows how much you would need to save each month at different starting ages in order to generate R10,000 a month when you retire. Common pitfalls are also explained and a list of tips is provided to help readers make the best decision.
Sonderup continues, “It is important to note that the information provided in the app should not be taken as financial advice, but rather for financial empowerment. One of the aims of the app is to contribute towards reducing the personal debt of South Africans.”