When I was a student I shopped at the cheapest supermarket and survived on a diet of chilli con carne and beans on toast. And if I was feeling particularly indulgent I’d treat myself to a bag of chips with curry sauce.
I might not have had the most nutritious diet but I was trying to live within my means. And if that meant going without more sophisticated food until the next trip back home, I couldn’t see there was an alternative option.
Perhaps I could have had one less pint at the student union bar and used the saved money to buy an apple or two, but as a young carefree student that thought really didn’t occur to me.
The story of the M&S student reinforced my view that children are growing up, leaving home but still wanting to maintain the level of lifestyle they had when they were supported by their parents, despite their own financial circumstances. With no thought to their financial future they could be setting themselves up for disaster along the way.
I have always been an advocate of teaching financial literacy in schools. And there is no time like the present to really push that forward. If we can get young people to understand the true value of money before they leave home they will be more inclined to save and provide for the future.
Perhaps they will even see the benefit of taking out a protection product when they hit various life stages such as buying their own home, having a family or starting a new job.
With the increasingly difficult financial conditions and cuts to benefits, people need to take responsibility for their own financial well-being.
This would be a great time for schools to give young people the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson that will set them up for a financially secure future.
Roger Edwards is managing director of Bright Grey & Scottish Provident