Learn healthy financial habits

Iggy Fenech has been given a preview of MBB’s and HSBC Malta Foundation’s latest initiative under the INVEST+ project: a mini-web series that aims to teach people how understanding money is key to making it work for them


Albert Einstein once famously said that, ‘Once we stop learning, we start dying.’ I tend to agree, but I’ve also come to realise that learning isn’t just about reading, writing and arithmetic; and it’s also not only about getting a university degree. Over the course of a lifetime, we learn many invaluable skills including how to cook, the right way to clean glass panes, how to change a tyre, and – why not? – how to draw the perfect winged eyeliner. Yet one thing we essentially stop learning about is money: how to make it, how to save it, and how to spend it seem to baffle most of us.

To many, including myself, the way we handle money is simply a continuation of how we saw our parents or guardians handle theirs when we were young. We saw their spending habits and the way they saved, and we recreated those patterns. But the problem with that is that our knowledge on money never grew and we simply didn’t realise that the world of finances was evolving all around us and leaving us behind.

How many people outside of the industry can explain what stocks and bonds are, for example? How many know the right percentage of their wage they should be saving in order to be financially covered by retirement age? What are cryptocurrencies exactly? And how does one keep an account book to monitor their spending?

Before the pandemic hit, the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) and the HSBC Malta Foundation had joined forces to create one-to-one mentoring sessions and workshops to help those signing up learn all about money matters. Those plans, like much else at that time, had to be put on hold, but it actually benefits us all, as those workshops have now evolved into a mini-series of videos that anyone can watch and learn from.

Using animation and filmmaking techniques, the result is a four-part series that aims to teach viewers about creating a business plan; differentiating between a balance sheet, an income statement and cash flow statement; building a savings plan; and distinguishing between stocks and bonds.

Nevertheless, I think that the best part of the videos is that their point is to educate rather than to get you to invest or place your savings in one bank over another. The aim, as both the representatives of MBB and HSBC pointed out, is to get people to understand what it all means so that they can make better informed decisions about what to do with their money in the short term and in the long run.

Now, you may be thinking that such things have been done before by YouTubers all across the internet. Yet the difference in this case is that you don’t need to question the credentials of the person delivering the videos. Indeed, you can rest assured that the information provided is accurate and genuine as it’s been compiled by experts in the field who have studied these topics and use this knowledge in their work on a daily basis.

Even better than that, the information, while accurate, is delivered in a way that even teenagers with no prior knowledge in such matters can understand the key points and learn to be better with their finances. And this is crucial, as understanding how money works from an early age will give them an advantage in both their careers and their personal lives.

The importance of having such knowledge, particularly after a year in which businesses large and small had to close their doors and learn to operate with shrinking finances, is indisputable. While the reverberations of global or national events can never be fully controlled, planning for the worst possible scenario could mean the difference between keeping afloat or sinking. As always, the buoy is money, so understanding it and using it wisely is essential.

So, with that in mind, there’s nothing left but to recommend watching the mini-series, which will be available on YouTube and Vimeo, as well as HSBC Malta Foundation’s and MBB’s social media pages. They’re free, you can watch them anytime you want and as many times as you want, and you’ve got nothing to lose and healthy financial habits to gain.

The first episode of the mini-series under the INVEST+ project will drop during the first week of April, with the rest of the episodes being made available over the course of the month at weekly intervals.

More in Banking & Finance