Since 2004, the United States has recognized April as Financial Literacy Month, a time set apart to focus on the knowledge and skills needed to ensure financial well-being across all stages of life. Why concentrate on financial literacy?
If you’re reading this, you’ve attained at least a mastery of financial basics. And you strive to stay abreast of the latest developments in the financial world. But much of society hasn’t mastered the basics. That matters, especially if you have children or grandchildren. You can’t assume they’ll achieve financial literacy through school.
A 2015 report by Champaign College’s Center for Financial Literacy on financial education in the U.S. found only five states deserved an A; “26 states received grades of C, D or F. Twenty-nine percent of the states had grades of D or F.” Those are not the kind of grades you want to see on your child’s report card. By the time they graduate from high school, most students still don’t have a basic grasp on finances or how to budget. They also don’t understand the financial aid process, credit, loans or inflation. What’s worse, mastery of financial knowledge doesn’t seem to improve over time. A 2016 Fidelity Investments study found 37 percent of college professors felt they were beginners when it came to investing.
Financial literacy should start at home. While money and finances should be a part of family discussions, one survey indicated parents spent about the same amount of time talking about money management as about the facts of life. In other words, not a lot. Yet making financial decisions can easily be woven into the fabric of everyday life. Include children and grandchildren in financial decisions at the store. Give them a small budget and have them decide what to purchase. Discuss their choices and point out the good and not-so-good about each one. Let them earn their allowance. Teach them to allocate a percentage of their allowance to immediate spending, savings and charitable giving.
Raising financially literate children and grandchildren contributes not only to their own personal future but also toward a healthy U.S. economy. Some experts say that a lack of financial literacy across society in part led up to the Great Recession.
To learn more about talking to your kids or grandchildren about money matters, contact our office. Leaving a legacy of financial literacy is as important as bequeathing tangible assets. Working together, we can make this legacy a reality.
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