I had an interesting conversation with my grandson, Charlie, yesterday about money. He brought up the conversation wondering how one learns about financial stuff. I told him I’d read two articles in the paper that very day about teaching children about money management. One was about how schools fail to teach the important life skills that will help them to survive in the financial world. The other was about our local Boys & Girls Club’s program “Money Matters”. Charlie belongs to the B&G Club but he is too young to take the course.
I told Charlie that when I was young, learning about how money works in the world was part of my math education. I told him I had a savings account and I could watch my money earn interest. We talked about ways young people can earn money. He is only 11 years old, so his options are few. “You can learn to cut people’s lawns,” I told him. He liked that idea until I told him that he first has to learn how to do it and that would require him cutting the lawn at home for free with his dad teaching him the right and wrong way to do it. He is learning the ins and outs of caring for children as he occasionally is in charge of his little brother, but he said he can’t see himself doing babysitting.
I went on line and found a nice site on money management for children, PBS Kids. We started to read it together but then his dad came to pick him up.
I was ill prepared to handle money when I went off into the adult world, in spite of what I’d learned in school. Bernie and I did not do a good job of teaching our children. They had to flounder around learning from their mistakes much in the same way we did. But I don’t think this is the way it has to be. Money management should be part of a school’s curriculum and there are ways that parents can help prepare their children. It is not simple nor is it easy. It works best when parents themselves have self discipline and knowledge. It helps to have a job that pays a living wage. But it really helps when a person can begin while they are young to save, to plan ahead, to learn the difference between need and wants and to know how systems work. And this takes wise teachers, in school and out.