Financial literacy in the US is low. Independent studies prove it, and I can vouch for it. Over the past year I have taught personal finance seminars for over 500 high school students. Almost all have been smart, engaged kids — kids that will have successful, rewarding careers. But most had received little or no education about personal finance.
Before children leave home, they should understand the basics. You may not be comfortable teaching this (I know the feeling — I’ve left to my wife the task of discussing a far more delicate subject with our kids). If you like, I’m happy to run a seminar for a group of teenagers or a couple families. You can also find resources on-line.
Here’s the focus I suggest:
- Budgeting: How to create and keep a budget, and needs vs wants
- Saving: The benefits of starting early, and the “magic” of compounding interest
- Credit cards: How they work, how you can get in trouble, and why you should never run a balance
- Paying for college: How much college costs, and sources of aid
- Investing: Basic types of investments and how you select between them, with comparisons between toddlers, teens, 20-somethings and retirees
- Insurance: Basic types, what to buy, and what to avoid
Please, do what you can — or let me know if you would like help. The need for financial literacy is at all-time highs. With easy access to credit cards and loans, and in a world full of expensive toys, it’s easy to dig a large financial hole. At the same time, we’re expected to be self-reliant savers and investors as pensions become rare. The solution is education.
In 20 years, your children will thank you.