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File Image: IOL

Speaking the money language - Why knowing the lingo is so important

By Opinion Time of article published Mar 11, 2021

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Some people refer to the language of finance. Terms such as budget, debt, savings, and credit score are ones we should all be familiar with, but often aren’t due to a lack of financial education.

On top of this financial barrier, there is another language aspect that needs to be considered – the language barrier, says Paymenow customer success manager Nosihle Maqhagi.

Here are several reasons why using someone’s home language when talking money is more likely to result in a meaningful conversation:

  • People are more likely to open up and discuss finances when these issues are addressed in the vernacular than when they are discussed in a second or third language.
  • When speaking the same language, people ask meaningful questions that are relevant to their life and lifestyle.
  • Financial literacy levels are low according to a 2018 research project into financial literacy in South Africa - Measuring and profiling financial literacy in South Africa.
  • Only 24% of those surveyed claimed knowledge of how to use savings, insurance, and investment products.
  • There are substantial differences in the distribution of financial literacy scores by education, marital status, personal income, and race.
  • Higher income and education levels reflect above average financial literacy, while white and Asian people also score better for understanding monetary terms.
  • Distribution for black and mixed-race people shows a different situation, one in which a lack of education is impacting their ability to understand financial aspects.
  • Most people who need more cash to make it to the end of the month, and often turn to loan sharks or mashonisa, are those in blue collar jobs who have limited formal education.
  • Many may not have finished primary school, let along high school and aren’t familiar with financial terms, especially not when these terms are used in English.
  • When we remove the language barrier, we impart lessons that can be shared with friends and family members.

“When we talk the same language, we can help people understand why saving is important, why debt is not ideal, and how to get to the end of the month without resorting to loan sharks,” Maqhagi says.

”This is why we feel it is critical to provide financial education to as many people as possible. And the best way to do that is to speak the language they are comfortable with.”


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