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Giving young people control over their finances

More and more young people aren’t in control of their finances. That’s something Intrum Justitia is looking to change. Over the past two years the company has met with hundreds of Swedish upper secondary school pupils to talk to them about personal economy.

A recent report by Intrum Justitia shows that young people have less control over their finances than their elders. The European Consumer Payment Report 2015 found that it is more common for 18- to 24-year-olds to let bills go unopened, have a poor overview of their finances, or shop online with credit or sms credit. The survey’s findings are backed up by Intrum Justitia’s own records.

“Just over two years ago, we saw in our databases that more and more young people are getting into financial difficulties. When we spoke to Kronofogden [the Swedish Enforcement Authority] they said the same thing,” says Karolina Castillo, market coordinator at Intrum Justitia.

However, the report also found that young people are interested in learning how to handle their finances better. “A couple of years ago we decided to take concrete action to reverse the trend,” Castillo says. “We want to strike a balance between spending and saving.”

The result was the Schools Project. So far, Intrum Justitia has met with Swedish secondary school classes/pupils from about 20 schools to discuss their personal economy. In the course of a few hours, they are given an insight into the consequences of ordering something online that they are later unable to pay for.

“It really gets them thinking,” says Anna Halldin, a teacher in social sciences and history at Blackebergs upper secondary school in Bromma, a suburb in north Stockholm.

She says the seminar and subsequent workshop, in which students have to come up with ways to better manage their finances, has given her classes an extra dimension. “It is not a textbook approach,” she says. “This is useful, everyday information, the benefits of which immediately become clear.”

The goal at the start of the project was to meet with four classes and then evaluate the results. But word spread quickly and other schools began to express an interest in meeting with Intrum Justitia. The initiative has also been written about in local and national newspapers. Castillo says in her experience students find these questions stimulating.

“They have been extremely positive,” she says. “Many say that this is all new to them, and few consider sms credit to be a form of credit. Of course, there are also different levels of maturity. Many are good at taking care of their money and have savings.

“It is fun to see them sit down during a workshop and give each other advice. Many pearls of wisdom come out: ‘forget’ your card at home, take the money out of your bank first so you can see how much you’re spending.”

About: School Project started 2013 Aimed at Swedish students aged 16-19 20 schools have taken part to date Led by Intrum Justitia