Insights into Queensland teens' views on money

RACQ’s Cash IQ program reveals young people’s attitudes towards money.

New data from RACQ’s Cash IQ program has unearthed valuable insights into the way teenagers view money.

Launched in 2018, the financial wellness program has been taught to more than 6000 students and includes two presentations, Cut the Cord and The Money Whisperer.

The Money Whisperer has been designed for Year 11 students and explores their current financial behaviours, what it means be to a conscious spender and the role their ‘inner voice’ (the Money Whisperer) plays and their relationship with it.

Cut the Cord enables Year 12 students to explore the complex interrelationships, links and intertwined entities of financial control, personal relationships, goals and the impact their role has on their own happiness.

As part of the Cash IQ program, students are asked questions about their spending habits and views on money, with their answers recorded on audience response keypads and graphed on-screen in real time.

RACQ Education Coaching and Development Specialist Melissa Johnson said the Cash IQ program wasn’t about dumping information on students but challenging their mindsets. 

“We give students the opportunity to evaluate their financial behaviours and challenge commonly held mindsets,” Ms Johnson said.

“We promote positive financial behaviours through actionable strategies that students can implement immediately.

“The overall aim is to increase their belief of financial control which equates to greater and more positive financial behaviours in young adults.”

Ms Johnson said adults need to understand that teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed and don’t view money in the same way as adults.

“Their brains aren’t fully developed until they’re 25,” she said.

“Understanding how their brains function helps to explain the choices they make.

“We always say, ‘You can’t change your brain, but you can change your environment’.

“We as adults need to help teens realise what is and isn’t in their control.

“It’s not about excusing the behaviour, but more understanding where they’re coming from and empowering them to change their environment.”

Cash IQ

Ms Johnson said parents could help change their teens environments by discussing money and finances.

“Talk about money, start the conversation and use every opportunity to keep talking,” she said.

“Get your kids involved and have them look at bills with you – give them an understanding of budgeting and how spending money on one item can cause ripple effects in other areas.

“Remember to remain calm and be understanding if they don’t follow your advice as it has more to do with their brains.

“They aren’t being irresponsible or impulsive when you ask them to save money and they blow it on food.

“In that moment, the meal mattered to them and that’s a result of their brain being wired that way.”

Ms Johnson said parents should implement actionable strategies their children can follow to improve their financial wellbeing.

“Put them in charge of an amount of money with clear guidelines and a conversation about what expenses they’re responsible for,” she said.

“It will achieve more than simply giving them pocket money for the week as it sets guidelines and allows them to manage their finances.

“It’s great to get kids out of the cycle of living pay-to-pay.

“If they don’t learn how to live differently now, what will change when they move out and don’t have the safety net of home.”

Actionable strategies to improve young peoples’ money environments:

Sleep on it:

Encourage them to walk away from the situation and think on it. The more money they plan on spending, the more time they should take.

Will it matter:

Ask them, will the item they’re about to purchase matter in five minutes, months or years from now? This strategy allows teens to put their purchase into a bigger context and not miss out on life changing experiences like moving out, buying a car or travelling for lots of little purchases.


Encourage them to portion their money and to set up multiple accounts with automatic transfers and have play money set aside. When the play account is empty, they don’t get to play again until they’re paid.

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and not as specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice and does not take into account any person’s particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situations and needs.