Financial Literacy for adults has been talked about for years, but what about teens and children? Wouldn’t they benefit from learning how to effectively manage money? I believe the answer to that is a resounding YES!
As a Business Math teacher, I feel there are several prominent reasons that financial literacy education is important for teens and children.
1. Buy Now – Pay Later Culture: Years ago, credit was a last resort and a thing of shame, but not today. Credit is almost seen as a rite of passage that is given to teens without teaching them how to maintain good credit.
2. Many Adults in Debt: Contrary to what we wish, children do not do as we tell them, but do as we do. If the adults in their lives are not good money managers, they will likely follow the same path. Someone needs to show them how to manage their money for their benefit.
3. Schools Don’t Teach It: Over the past twenty-five years, many public-school systems have done away with their financial literacy classes to make room for other educational opportunities that do not focus on finances. The deficit has recently been recognized and these classes are being reintroduced.
4. They Will Grow Up: More quickly than we parents would like to think about, our children will grow up and have to make financial decisions of their own. It would be such a disservice to send them on their way without equipping them to be financially successful.
When you combine a Credit Hungry culture, parents who are themselves in financial distress, and a lack of educational classes to teach students how to overcome this dilemma, the situation can begin to look grim. However, it does not have to be. Here are a few things you can do now to help prepare your children and teens to be good money managers:
1. Be Intentional in Teaching Them: Even very small children are able to grasp financial concepts, such as, deciding on a small box of cereal or a large box that costs the same. As children mature, include them in other financial decisions of the household such as making the decision to go to the movie theater as opposed to renting a movie and staying in to save money for vacation.
2. Make Them Earn It: Instant gratification is much more appealing than saving and waiting; however, earning something changes its value. Sometimes waiting seems a punishment, when in reality you are helping your child learn a life lesson. If your children are like mine, they are used to getting stuff, and I will find it is not taken care of. When they have worked to earn something, it usually has a special place in their room and is not mistreated. They take pride in knowing they earned it.
3. Teach Them the Value of Saving: This goes hand in hand with the point above. Explain to your child how you save and how they can also save. Many financial institutions have youth programs and some even offer monetary rewards for good grades. (We know a great one that happens to be an eCO CU Foundation sponsor (embed link: https://www.ecocu.org/products/youth-accounts/) Help your child set a goal or find a specific toy they would like to save for. Children are very visual, so setting up a chart or a money jar is helpful.
4. Giving: I know it sounds like a contradiction, but teaching your child about giving to those in need or a specific cause will help your child see a new side to money management…helping others.Technology offers many wonderful resources for working with your teens and children. Here are a few that I rely on:
*The ēCO Credit Union Foundation does not claim to endorse any of these brands or people.
Written by: Monica Youngblood
Monica Youngblood is a high school teacher at Cornerstone Christian School in Columbiana, AL. She was a 2017 ēCO Credit Union Foundation grant winner and excels in teaching each student that comes through her classroom about personal finance.