Pakistan’s heavily consumption-oriented people: not very frugal. From ever-rising import numbers to the ever-rising yearn for more, Pakistanis need to think of the economy and, in these inflation-ridden times, their own pockets. The economy isn’t the only thing running on borrowed time, our mindset is too. But then, very few people have the resources to sit through an audit or get indecipherable financial advice. Even among developing nations, Pakistanis have the lowest access to financial services. In numbers, about 100 million (50% of the population) adults in Pakistan have no access to formal and regulated financial services. Even worse: a meagre 5% of women are involved in Pakistan’s financial sector compared to South Asia’s significantly larger average of 37%. Financial management sounds hard, but it doesn’t have to be – not everyone needs all of their assets sorted. Where accountants see numbers and spreadsheets, people need to see an easy-to-understand principle: The numbers on the paycheck, more than the expenses. Every month. Every year. Without compromise. This is where financial literacy comes in. Financial Literacy, as the World Bank Development Research Group says, encompasses concepts ranging from financial awareness and knowledge, including of financial products, institutions, and concepts; financial skills, such as the ability to calculate compound interest payments; and financial capability more generally, in terms of money management and financial planning. For Pakistan, this is especially important. As Mr Syed Sajid Ali, Director of Learning and Development National Institute of Banking and Finance, said: “Pakistan can only achieve a higher economic growth if we can inculcate a saving culture among the different segments of society. Everyone who earns an income is a potential saver. Every saver is a potential investor. And every investor ought to be financially literate.” Financial analysts need to take on a leading role to make even more information available to the masses but, more importantly, the government must increase its efforts. The State Bank of Pakistan’s National Financial Literacy Program is a step in the right direction but it is important that financial literacy becomes a centrepiece for government efforts in turning the economy around. By encouraging personal financial management, the government can decrease demands for unnecessary items, reduce the import bill, and help bring down inflation. Increasing or helping establish savings in proper financial institutions, the government can also help stimulate the economy as with more money in the banks, investments across the board will increase. Moreover, with proper financial planning, the dependence on a ‘welfare’ state decreases today and in the future allowing for lower taxes and an overall investment-friendly environment. With declining birth rates, crippling high tax rates and further tax evasion will be a near future and only a focus on savings and proper financial means can stop it. Savings through government-issued bonds, in particular, can help release the pressure on foreign government debts and the strategy, if employed by the government, can help with a necessary pressure release in the government treasury department. A nationwide campaign on the benefits of proper banking channels and personal financial management is important. Demonetization is a long shot but such a campaign, along the lines of the government-sanctioned COVID and Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns can go a long way in myth-busting the ‘complex’ banking processes and eventually lead to a more financially stable Pakistan. The writer is a student at Aitchison College, Lahore, with an interest in identifying and solving long-standing societal problems that obstruct development.