Imagine living in a house with electricity and plumbing but no one every showed you how to plug something in or turn on the faucet. You are living in the dark, have no running water to drink, cook with or clean with and you have no idea how to change the situation.
This is exactly what it’s like to live in a world where money is the ‘currency’ that brightens our lives and quenches our thirst for the things we want to experience in life but we have no idea how to use it.
AND, we have no idea how to use it because most of us aren’t TAUGHT how to use money wisely and to our advantage by our parents or at school. Parents often think schools should teach it (primarily because they don’t know how) and schools don’t want to touch the subject because they don’t understand it either. There’s also rarely any time or money to support financial education in schools because they are too busy teaching students boring, irrelevant information that they will never use in their ‘real’ lives. But this is a discussion for a different day.
Why We Aren’t Taught About Money
Why aren’t we taught about money? Oh my, the answer to this question is long and has many chapters but I’ll try to keep this short and simple.
Enter the world I call the Financial Education Conundrum, meaning most of us don’t have a clue why we don’t learn this stuff when we’re young!
Here are some very basic reasons why we aren’t taught about money.
We don’t talk about money
The conundrum starts with the fact that we talk about electricity and plumbing like it’s no big deal but when it comes to talking about money, oh my gosh, we all too often make it a taboo subject that’s somehow different.
But it’s NOT different!
Money is the substance that virtually every human being in every culture on Earth uses every day to pay for the things he or she needs and wants.
Without enough money to pay for the things we need and want, life can be pretty miserable and while some people say that ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’, it sure buys the things we need to keep ourselves safe and sound and to most people, that’s pretty darn happy.
Research does show money actually DOES affect our happiness, up to the point that we have enough money to pay for our basic needs. Above that point and money doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on making us any happier.
We have to get so we can talk about money as easily as we talk about electricity and plumbing but why do we have such trouble talking about money?
Because we make it mean something about ourselves and others that’s just not true.
There’s a say, “Nothing has meaning except the meaning you give it.” This is oh, so true when it comes to money.
Too many human beings grow up thinking that the amount of money we have has something to do with the type of person we are or our ‘value’ to others, but nothing could be further from the truth.
- Having money doesn’t make us a better person.
- Having more doesn’t make us more important.
- Having money doesn’t make us cooler, or sexier or smarter.
- Having money doesn’t mean we can neglect those around us or stockpile it and not use it to do good in the world.
Money is simply tool to reach your dreams.
That’s it. It’s short and simple. Money is a tool…just a screwdriver or a hammer or a food processor. It’s a tool.
Money buys shelter, food, clothing, water, knowledge, transportation, and all of the wonderful experiences we call life.
Having money does come with responsibility…to use i wisely for yourself, your family, your community. Doing good with money is one of the most rewarding experiences in life and those who have a good deal more than others, quickly learn the power of using their extra money to help others. It brings us purpose and satisfaction in life.
The fact is, you wouldn’t let your child grow up without learning how to use a toothbrush, drive a car or swim. Why, then, do we let them grow up without a sound financial education?
It only makes sense to teach children this critically important information when they are young so they can grow up using it correctly and not have to, hopefully, learn about money the hard way by making mistake after mistake that could have been avoided with enough of the right type of financial information when they were young.
Can’t teach what you don’t know
While it may be that a large percentage of parents are financially clueless, that’s not a valid reason to not making sure your children or students are equipped with the financial knowledge they need to be self-reliant as adults. Our government coffers are struggling to keep up with the demand from uneducated, ignorant citizens who don’t have a clue how to handle money. It’s not their fault but it’s not the government’s responsibility to take care of people due to their sheer ignorance about money. It’s just not that hard to learn about money and investing anymore.
There are thousands of books on money and investing, online financial education programs, money magazines, free curriculums for home and school, mentors who are more than willing to help you learn as well ‘money camp’ type programs where kids, teens and adults can learn about money and investing.
Hey, and ya, learning about money and investing can be quite confusing. There’s a lot of contrary opinions about what to do but in my own experience, if you read enough books and you take enough classes and you ask enough questions, you start getting the same answers. THAT’S the information you go with…and what feels right in your gut after you start to understand the wonderful world of money…and it is wonderful.
Are you a parent or teacher who doesn’t have a basic foundation in Money 101? No problem!
Learn right along side your children. They won’t mind that you don’t know. Contrary to popular belief, children don’t expect their parents to be perfect.
The truth is, it’s easier for children to learn that making mistakes is a valuable aspect of life if they see their parents learning and growing also. Thinking you have to look like you have it all together to your children is actually a disservice to them. Kids need to know that adults are still working on figuring this ‘life thing’ out, too, and that life is simply a wonderful journey.
Don’t burden our children with money…WRONG!
This attitude about kids and money is downright dangerous to your children and your community’s children. You are keeping the basic information they need to grow up and live successfully away from them. While it doesn’t seem as harsh as not feeding them or giving them water, if you think about it deeper, you see that it’s incredibly harmful to their overall well-being and future.
What good is social studies, geography, history, math and writing if young adults graduate from high school and college with little to no knowledge of how to use and utilize the money they will hopefully go out and start earning on their own? They are now graduating with tremendous amounts of debt that can’t begin to understand, pay back or cope with and the social ramifications of this situation are tremendous.
Adult children are moving home because they can’t find jobs that will pay them enough to pay back debt, they are committing suicide from the financial pressure and are using drugs and alcohol to try to cope.
This is no way to raise children!
The definition of child abuse, according to Wikipedia and several other sources on the web is “the physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children.”
By neglecting to make sure your children and the children in your community learn about the very substance that makes the world go around, as they say, you are indeed harming the child, sometimes in unimaginable ways.
Just as neglecting to teach a child how babies are made, that sugar causes cavities, that vegetables are important to your health, that wearing a seatbelt may save your life some day, neglecting to teach them how to make and manage money keeps them from living life to the fullest and is absolutely a form of child abuse in my book.
Your primary job as a parent and teacher is to make sure your children and students grow up to be fully functioning, responsible adults who can think through challenges on their own and take care of themselves. Not exposing them to money…the good, bad and the ugly…makes it hard for adult children to really create great lives.
What you can do instead:
- Stop thinking you are burdening your child or students with adult information they can’t handle. We ARE raising adults, right? They have the right to receive the information they need to live well on this Earth and they WANT this information.
- Even if you don’t know what to teach them, start today and teach yourself. There is NO excuse. There is an abundance of free financial education information and videos on the Internet and in the library for you to become an expert on money and investing.
- Involve your children and/or students in topics involving money. Know they are interested and the information will help them more than you know in the future. Even if you think they aren’t paying attention, they are. The point is to get everyone talking about money. Start today!
- Think of ways you can teach everyday topics through the context of money. Money often makes life lessons far more relevant to students.
- Make sure your children get plenty of practice with money. Give them an allowance and then help them budget, save money in a bank and start exploring ways to make that money grow, i.e., invest. We don’t get good at anything without plenty of practice and practice with money is critical if you want your chkids to grow into financially savvy and responsible adults.
- Visit our home page and sign up to receive our free report, The 3 Keys to Raising Money Savvy Adults!
One of the best (and most fun) ways to introduce children to the topic of money is to find youth summer programs that focus on money and investing. Here are a couple of great ideas…
1) Look on line for a money camp. There are many offered around the United States and some internationally. Type the following search terms into Google:
KEYWORDS: money camp, financial camp, millionaire camp, teen money camp, Moving Out for Teens, Camp Millionaire, money game, personal finance camp/class.
You’re sure to find at least one program within driving range. We have many parents bring their children from hundreds of miles away to attend our Camp Millionaire camp. Why? Because it’s worth it to them to know that their children have the tools they need to live successfully on their own after they move away from home.
2) Check your local summer camp locations to see if anyone is offering a camp or class through an already established youth program.
3) Look for a financial advisor or planner who is offering an educational event. While these types of events can be boring and more advanced, you may find one that is basic in nature.
4) Check out your local banks and credit unions. They often offer programs for both kids and adults on basic money management skills.
5) Take a financial education or personal finance class with your older teen.
6) If all else fails, find a financial education curriculum online and teach yourself and your child at home.
7) Lastly, consider hosting a summer financial camp yourself. You can work with us at Creative Wealth or some other organization and make sure your local children get the financial foundation they need.
OK, you don’t have any excuses now for not arming your child or students with the financial knowledge and skills they need to live a happy, healthy life full of the most amazing experiences possible.
It doesn’t matter how you do it…just get it done. Our kids are depending on us. Let’s show the ropes and give them a leg up on living the most awesome life possible!