Financial mistakes from the past still haunt a third of us

Our errors cost us, study shows, as life insurer calls for personal finance to be taught in school

The avoidance of debt is a higher priority for women than it is for men (69% versus 56%) according to Aviva research.

The avoidance of debt is a higher priority for women than it is for men (69% versus 56%) according to Aviva research.


One third of Irish people are still paying for financial mistakes made in the past, according to a new survey. The report also calls for personal finance education to be introduced to the school curriculum as a way of avoiding this in the future.

According to a study of 1,051 people by Aviva Life Insurance, one third of respondents said they are still haunted by financial mistakes they made in years gone by, while more than a third (35 per cent) said they find managing their personal finances “confusing”. Unsurprising perhaps, given another figure which shows that more than half of respondents (54 per cent) have had no financial management education whatsoever.

Ann O’Keeffe, who leads Aviva’s retail life insurance business, said the research shows the need for people to learn more about managing their money, and the necessity of that education happening earlier.

“There’s a strong argument to be made for personal finance to be taught in secondary schools to equip young people with the knowledge and tools they need to make the best financial decisions in their later lives. With 57 per cent of respondents saying they wished they had managed finances differently in the past and almost three quarters admitting they wished they had learned about financial management in school, it seems there would be strong public support for this change in the school curriculum.”

Men versus women

The study also gave an insight into how gender impacts on financial management skills. The research found that Irish women are more likely to be the sole financial decision-maker in the household than men (35 per cent, compared to 29 per cent of men), while it also found that men are twice more likely than women to be motivated by the need to ensure the financial security of loved ones in the event of serious illness or worse (27 per cent versus 14 per cent).

Indeed women responding to the survey showed a general trend towards being more conservative, with the avoidance of debt a higher priority for women than it is for men (69 per cent versus 56 per cent).

“Women tend to be more cautious than men when it comes to making financial decisions and are much less likely than men to be saddled with debt from past financial mistakes,” Ms O’Keeffe said.

On the flip side however, women are less likely to invest in life insurance than men (39 per cent versus 47 per cent) and are significantly less confident than men that their families would be taken care of financially if they passed away (45 per cent versus 61 per cent)

While saving for a holiday is a priority for men and women alike (26 per cent and 28 per cent), when it comes to saving for a house, men give it a greater importance (21 per cent versus 15 per cent).