Some of our local school districts now make a personal finance class a mandatory requirement for graduation. This may prove extremely helpful as many money decisions occur around that time. How many people do we know were young and foolish with their first credit card that they got in high school or college, buying all sorts of nonsense and not being able to pay it off? How may will face decisions about student loans and paying for college? What about purchasing a new or used car? The need to write a check or use a debit card? Opening a bank account or a retirement plan at work? So much happens quickly that can impact the future.
I think this is an awesome course requirement, equipping students with essential skills. (Quite frankly some of the most useful classes in school for me were the life skills: how to drive, how to type, how to cook and sew, how to interview, how to dress for success, how to write, how to speak in public, etc. I use these things almost daily, but have yet to use the Pythagorean Theorem. However, I digress.).
It is never too early to start teaching children about money. From that first piggy bank and being able to identify coins and bill denominations, to delaying instant gratification to save for something more expensive down the road, you help to lay the foundation. Teaching kids that the ATM is not a money machine of infinite supply is an excellent point to discuss with elementary aged students. Knowing the value of money and how long and hard one needs to work to earn it, establishing a budget, and making choices is an important part of the middle school/high school years. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation, even in brief spurts as you shop for groceries, fill the gas tank, go out to eat, pay bills, write a check, decide between using debit or credit. Involve your children in vacation planning and budgeting. Remove the stigma from talking about money and you might just be surprised how it will help their overall financial literacy.
The opinions are those of the author. Seek professional advice before taking any action in regard to your finances.
This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice to any individual.
Todd A. Slingerland, CFP®
6 Tower Place Albany, NY 12203 (518) 867-4000 x105 firstname.lastname@example.org