Last month we introduced our new column with a suggestion – that you sit down with the person(s) closest to you and have a meaningful conversation about your money, financial goals and passions. If you did, congratulations! You’ve made the often difficult but important first step to get you closer to where you want to be financially.
This month we’d like to emphasize the importance of having the money conversation with your high school children. They remind us often that they know everything, but when it comes to money, they don’t know much. They think they “need” a car, new headphones, the coolest shoes and clothing, and the iPhone 6. Advertising is designed to lure us to buy the latest and greatest and it’s hard to resist, especially for our teens. The importance of being responsible – understanding money, managing a budget, and prioritizing wants versus needs is sometimes at a loss against the power of marketing.
Since our children are at a disadvantage, we should do all we can to educate them on how to handle money, but as parents, we may be at a disadvantage too. Think about it. How did YOU learn about money? You likely learned from your parents; directly by what they said and indirectly by what they did, and from life’s lessons – the good, the bad and the ugly.
We think it’s time to break the cycle. We believe society disenfranchises our young adults by not giving them the basics, in terms of financial understanding, to prepare them for life. Georgia’s schools currently teach personal finance for a few weeks as part of a required Economics course, but we need to do more. We’d love to see our high schools deliver a semester-long course on financial literacy. We are grateful for programs like Junior Achievement (in fact we volunteered at the wonderful BizTown facility in Atlanta a couple weeks ago), but our teens deserve more.
Talk to your kids about money - the choices they must make regarding saving and spending and ask how they prioritize their purchases. Share some of your own family money experiences with them. Teens may not want to hear about delaying gratification and avoiding debt, but seeing that in practice within their own family will be a lesson that will serve them well later in life. Check out the website www.bettermoneyhabits.com with them, and for your own benefit too. It’s a great resource to better understand the basics of spending, saving, and debt. Life’s a journey. Navigate it wisely.