Friday, 25 October 2013

What every young person should know about banking and the economy

By Karolina Rudaś

Banking and the economy are equally important in our lives. I would fairly say that there are ten useful things about banking each young person should be familiar with.

1. Have a current account. In the past we used to keep money at home in a sock. Nowadays it’s not very practical to keep large sums of cash at home.  At time of writing, keeping your savings account in a credit union is recommended.

2. Know how to use a debit card. Both a current account and debit card help you to learn how to use your own funds and economize. If your parents give you pocket money on a monthly basis, just like a salary, by the time you are earning your own salary, you will have learned by trial and error if by no other means, how to plan your monthly expenses.

3. Know how powerful credit is –you can borrow funds to help you to buy things earlier than you could otherwise. Be careful however, interest accumulates. You should understand that owning on credit reduces your monthly costs at the expense of overall costs.

4. Be aware of the interest trap –it’s easy to borrow money but you borrow somebody’s money and repay your own. Before you take another loan ensure you have a reasonable expectation of sufficient future revenue to cover your debt.

5. When you borrow money you have to pay back the capital, interest and fee. Lenders never give money for free. Financial institutions, not banks, tend to charge more but present the offer in disguise.

6. Always read carefully before you sign. If the document states there are general terms as an integral part of the documentation always ask for it and read it. If you don’t understand, ask the clerk, it’s his duty to explain. If you don’t understand, don’t sign.

7. Remember that a credit card is another form of loan. It’s easier to use but you have to repay it just like any other loan. Always be aware of deadlines for repayment and know what your limits are.

8. Know your basic customer rights. It’s always helpful.

9. Security – in the modern world you must have online access to your account. Be sure that your ID and password are safe.

10. Safety of your credit card and debit card – never keep the card in your wallet and never keep your PIN code with your card. The best way is to keep your card is in a Faraday cage– a simple business card case. And remember that three numbers at the back of your card are the most sensitive information (e-payment), so cover them.

With regard to the economy I think that there are many important issues that young people should be aware of. At least they should have basic understanding of the following concepts.

1) Understand what economic growth means for the country.

2) Understand the basic connection between politics and the economy. In general they should be aware that such connections exist.

3) Understand the influence of the global economy on the Polish market. Poland is not an island. Our country has commercial relations with the global economy and therefor is prone to economic austerity.

4) Understand how the Warsaw Stock Exchange works.

5) Understand the foreign exchange market in Poland. Nowadays we are more accustomed to using foreign currencies therefore young people should know how this market works.

6) Understand that inflation can be useful, provided it’s really low (almost crawling).

7) Understand the banking system in Poland.

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