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May 15

6 reasons why you can’t afford to be bad with numbers

Reading Time: 4 mins

Many of us say we’re not numbers people. But numbers play a big part in all of our lives. From household budgeting, to shopping, cooking, planning a journey or working out our team’s chance of winning the league, we all use numbers, every day.

Despite this, 1 in every 2 working-age adults in the UK struggles with using numbers.

People often accept their current abilities, not realising they can change. But everyone can improve and get the Essentials of Numeracy. These are the skills we all need in everyday life, which might help with job prospects, savvier shopping habits and all sorts of everyday situations.

None of us can really afford to be bad with numbers.


Numbers help you manage your finances better

Piggy Bank, coins and calculator

This one might seem obvious, but if you struggle with numbers you’ll struggle to manage your money. Research has shown that good number skills can help people better manage their day-to-day finances and avoid debt.

Whether it’s drawing up a budget or spotting the best deal in the supermarket, understanding numbers is crucial to managing your money.


Numbers help you get ahead in your career

Smart business woman using calculator

People with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed. Being better with numbers can help you get a job, hold onto it – and even earn more money.

Evidence shows that those with better numeracy skills are likely to earn more. In fact, the average cost to individuals with poor number skills is £460 per year.

Numbers are involved in almost any job you can think of. But two thirds of UK employers are concerned about employees’ ability to sense-check numbers. So improving your number skills is a great way to get ahead at work.


Numbers help you save more money

Woman saving money in piggy bank and using a calculator

Number skills don’t just help you earn more. There’s also a strong link between people’s numeracy level and the amount they have in savings.

This is true whatever your income. Even those on a lower income but with better numeracy skills are likely to save more.


Numbers help you look after your health and wellbeing

Woman measuring her waist

It’s not all about money. Numbers play a big part in how we look after ourselves and others.

Whether it’s counting calories, managing medication doses, or understanding health risks, you can’t afford to avoid numbers when it comes to your health.


Numbers help you make sure you get the best deals

Shopper using calculator on smartphone in supermarket

We’ve all been there. The supermarket aisle with competing offers on similar products. Is ‘buy one get one half price’ better than ‘20% off’ – and what about different pack sizes? Is the bigger pack always better value?

Understanding the numbers involved helps you make your money go further.

It’s the same when you’re comparing mobile phone tariffs or broadband prices. Or even if you’re looking at loans and mortgages.

If you’re not confident with numbers, you can’t be sure you’re getting the best deal.


Percentages are everywhere!

2 women holding tags with percentage symbols on

You’ll see them in store discounts, interest rates and food labels. They’re there when we talk about train fare increases or, if we’re lucky, pay rises. Politicians and the media use them a lot too.

Percentages crop up everywhere – and knowing how to work them out is a really useful skill to have. If you want to understand the information given to you by banks, shops and the media, you can’t afford to be bad with percentages.

And the good news is that being better with numbers isn’t a special talent. It’s something we can all learn.

That’s what National Numeracy Day, held on 16th May 2018, is all about. Recognising the important part numbers play in everyday life and helping people sharpen their skills and build their confidence.

Find out if you have the Essentials of Numeracy and brush up on your skills now using National Numeracy’s free online assessment tool.


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1 year ago

Good points. I currently have a part-time job in a supermarket and it horrifies me that children as ‘old’ as ten come in and are completely incapable of giving me the right money for an item. They have no idea at all. I lost it one day and told a constant offender to go home and learn how to count!

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