Kids need to the art of money management

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Young people who fritter away their weekly allowance on frivolous things can learn about saving and using money wisely through a course in Ho Chi Minh City next month.

Intended mainly for school students, the course run by the Center of Culture and Sport for Southern Teenagers will teach basic money-management skills and include group discussions, problem solving and role playing. It starts on March 14.

"In Vietnam, a considerable number of young people waste their time and money on shopping for brand name goods and playing computer games," the center's acting director, Nguyen Thanh Nhan, said in HCMC last week at a conference on the issue.

"It will likely lead them to adopt a lavish lifestyle, which is alarming," Nhan warned.

Teenage concerns

Nguyen Ngoc Lan Anh, an eleventh-grader at Nguyen Thuong Hien High School, told the 50-odd students who went along to the conference that many of her friends spent their lunch money for the whole month just to buy the latest brand-name blouse.

"They're not making any money yet and depend entirely on their parents, so they are very wasteful," Anh said.

Hanh Nguyen from Saigon International High School said most of her classmates came from rich families and spent money hand over fist.

"I was shocked when my friend paid VND1.5 million (US$86) for just two tops," Nguyen said.

She also related how a boy had broken a window at the school and his teacher wanted to phone the parents and ask them to come in. But the boy reached into his pocket, casually took out a few million dong and offered to pay for the damage himself, and said there was no need to call his parents.

"These kids take their cue from their parents," Nguyen said. "If the parents keep giving their children lots of money, it is hard to tell them to save."

The other students in the audience nodded agreement and said adults should set a good example first.

For twelfth-grader Tran Trung Hieu from the same school, deciding whether to go out with his friends or stay home makes him very confused.

"I know saving is good, but what if I want to go out without any money," Hieu said. "If I try to save money, my friends will say I am snubbing them and they might ostracize me."

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