How to teach money management to your kids

Faye Griffiths-Smith and Yanely Espinal can have a fundamental impact on the life of your family. In their respective advocacy roles with the Connecticut branch of Jump$tart Coalition and Next Generation Personal FinanceGriffiths-Smith and Espinal want Connecticut to make personal finance a requirement in high school curricula, arguing that many students head out into the world without enough understanding of how to balance their income and expenses — a surefire formula for stress and any financial constraints.

As many of us can attest, financial health is directly linked to emotional well-being in the context of stress reduction. Florida became the largest state in the nation to adopt such a requirement this year, with Rhode Island also pledging to bring the total to 14 states.

We spoke with Griffiths-Smith and Espinal about the importance of a formal personal finance education for students who don’t take optional courses in the subject or attend schools that don’t offer them at all.

Looking for a fun way to get kids thinking about money in the context of a life of needs? There are many downloadable games and activities online at Next Generation Personal Financethe Council for Economic Education, junior achievement, Money miracle, Visa and others online.

Why haven’t more states and schools made “financial wellness” part of the required curriculum, like health education?

Griffiths-Smith: There have been surveys that indicate that a good portion of the public – typically 80% or more – are very supportive of children receiving financial education. It’s been consistent for a while now, but I think that’s exactly how you get there where sometimes the momentum hit a break.

A course in personal finance, depending on how it’s structured, might be able to meet the qualifications for maybe a math course or credit for social studies – definitely business, definitely family and life sciences. the consumption.

Espinal: The students demand it themselves – they themselves recognize that a large part of the courses they take are not relevant to their daily lives.

Parents, students, teachers, superintendents, community members, politicians – there are so many people who come forward with their opinions, and so try to make sure everyone is heard and that it happens in a fair way. for all parties is the challenge. But it’s an exciting challenge because so many states are figuring out how to do it and I don’t think it’s going to be an obstacle for very long.

Student loans are the first major financial commitment many teens make. How many truly understand the burden they face on the other side?

Griffiths-Smith: Young people don’t necessarily have an idea of ​​how much money they’ll make in the future in certain professions, and what it costs to live — and they make decisions about student loans, without necessarily a lot of foresight. as to what the impact may be.

Espinal: Whether they enter the workforce directly, the military, or college, all of these decisions have a financial component. We say, “Oh, you’ll be making financial decisions when you go to college or get a job” – but we don’t actually teach them or share the tools.

For kids who aren’t introduced to personal finance in school, how should parents make sure they’re interested in learning the ropes?

Griffiths-Smith: Often what I’ve found is that when parents are preparing with their older teenagers for college, they often realize, “Oh my God, they need to know more about finances, because they are going to have to handle more things on their own.”

It’s really about being open — and that’s a personal decision — but sharing some of that basic information. How to balance things? How can we make difficult decisions when there is not much money? What are the factors that allow us to make the best possible decisions about how we are going to spend our money?

Espinal: The pandemic has reminded us of how precarious so many of our finances are, when emergencies arise and we lack the savings and fundamental understanding of how credit and borrowing works. Even coming out of this, there can still be an impact on this idea that you could lose this at any time, and so how do you operate with money when that’s our mindset? The only way is to understand money management and basic financial principles, and develop a long-term plan.

Geraldine L. Melton