Why our students need to know how much its costs to live in the UK?
According to Revolut the average cost of living in the UK is as follows:
- £2,249 per month for a single person; and
- £3,803 per month for a family of four.
This makes the UK the 7th most expensive country Western Europe.
Of course there is an ongoing argument about whether this is a true reflection and what is included in the cost of living in the UK. Are cinema tickets essential? How many TV subscriptions does the average person need?
Throughout my career in education I have run an exercise to help students calculate cost of living based on their expectation. I should highlight here that it is not without its flaws. I am not aware of future inflation rates (which is why I always highlight that inflation will continue to make living costs higher and the importance of minimum wage reflecting this rise in cost of living). However what it does do for students is give them some idea of what things cost and what the life they have dreamed up for themselves costs.
Why do students need to know about cost of living?
Awareness – In order to ensure we are creating a culture of responsible and able citizens that can participate in society and are well informed.
Motivation – Needless to say, many times, when I complete this activity students are left shocked at how much money they would need to earn in order to live the life they want. For many this makes them rethink the career they want to go into and aspire to something more. For some it makes them question whether the life they see on social media and influencers living is actually real.
Expectations – I believe we have a moral responsibility to both encourage our students to dream big and understand the real lay of the land so they are not surprised by life when they leave school but in command of it.
Cost/benefit analysis – Without the cost of living many schools expect students to make important decisions about life – like whether they should go to university or do an apprenticeship. As adults we often have to work backwards from the goal in life to put in actions that will get us there. Why is it any different for our students?
Helping disadvantaged students – The way money is spoken about (if spoken about at all), budgeted, and the purchases prioritised will vary home to home but also whether our students come from a background where parents rely on the government for financial support. The freedom they will have had to make financial decisions will vary as a result. We must ensure that our students, who we want to be active participants in the economy are equipped with the ability to make financial decisions that their parents may not have been able to.
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