This week, we asked our Moms Council how they teach their kids about money.
Having parents who grew up in the Depression, I got some hard lessons about money.
I wore the same six uniform items to high school for four years, because we had to get our money's worth out of those expensive clothes. I started working when I turned 14, and I added on jobs as they became available to pay for college and all its expenses. So in the interest of my future, I only opened savings accounts and cashed out $20 for spending money. I thought I was rich then, able to buy my own makeup and sodas at the Dew Drop Inn.
Then my parents dropped me off at college, where I opened a checking account and got a credit card and learned how to use ATMs. It was a whole new world, let me tell you.
My father was shocked when I told him at the bank that I had no idea how to write a check. "Whaddya mean? Didn't they teach you that at school?"
I think—as many fathers used to presume in the days of harvest gold and disco balls—that he thought I'd never have to worry about little things like balancing a checkbook and staying within your credit limit.
We've all heard the joke about the youngster with a new checking account who thinks he/she still has money in the bank because he/she still has blank checks in the checkbook. Thing is...it's not really a joke for some teens.
Not every student gets educated on financial banking and the ins and outs of credit in school. And—just speculating here—with all the budget cuts our schools are suffering, I'm going out on a limb and guessing that the few courses out there now won't be there much longer.
A friend related to me her challenge of buying her first house. Being a teacher and a first time homebuyer, she had access to a special course to learn about loans, interest, and paying down the principle on the mortgage, as well as homeowner's insurance, escrow, taxes ... and she was 40 when she finally learned all this!
She incorporates it into her high school math lesson plans now, because she can.
And how do-able is that?
My boys have bank accounts with all the trimmings, and we've allowed them to make their own decisions with money they earn for jobs they do around the house. (No, we never paid them an allowance for merely existing ... the roof, bed, and fridge access cover that base.) They rarely write checks, but they do use online banking, Paypal, and a credit card where I am the joint owner. Frankly, since handwriting is going the way of the landline telephone, they can barely write a good signature to sign a check.
Money and credit and financials are a world where we parents HAVE to keep up with the technology, and HAVE to be hands-on with our kids. The world is not as trusting or generous as it was when we were starting out (for me it was in the days of harvest gold!), and nobody can afford to lose what little we have in the economy we're in today.
I wrote out a check for college tuition one semester, knowing full well that the ATM was down, overloaded by all the students making transactions at the start of school. I held on to the check that needed to be deposited, figuring I had a “float” time until I could catch a ride to the bank. But guess what? I got a call from a bank officer.
Here's how that exchange went:
"Miss V., I have a check written in the amount of $575, but you don't have the funds in your account to support it." (Told you this was back in the harvest gold days.)
"Well, that's your fault," I answered indignantly.
"OUR fault?" he answered back, adding shock to the mix.
"YOUR bank's ATM machines on campus are crashed. I don't have a car, so you'll just have to wait until I can catch a ride to deposit the check." (Ah, youth! Can you stand it?)
"I will be at your student union at 5:30 p.m., Miss V., to pick up the check you need deposited." He hung up, and yep, there he was, waiting on me at the union.
As I said, the days of harvest gold were a more honest time. No way would I be so trusting today.
But without our guidance, our boys sure would be.
Growing up I received very little training about finances and how to manage them. I was allowed to spend my babysitting money on what I wanted, no questions asked! I started working as a teenager and used my earnings to buy the clothes, shoes, etc. that my parents couldn't afford to buy me. I must admit that I did not manage my money very well as a young adult.
I think that parents should teach money management to their kids through modeling responsible spending and saving habits. The earlier we can start, the better! Children need to be encouraged to save a portion of any amount they receive for birthdays, chores, etc. Savings accounts should be encouraged as well as discussions on future financial needs like financing a college education. I am not sure that kids really understand how expensive it is to attend college. There are many books dealing with kids and money that parents can get at the local library. Reading together is a great way to share this information.
About Moms Talk
Moms Talk is a new feature on Dallas-Hiram Patch that is part of a new initiative to reach out to moms and families.
We invite you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Paulding County.
Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions.
Moms, dads, grandparents and the diverse families who make up our community will have a new resource for questions about local neighborhood schools, the best pediatricians, 24-hour pharmacies and the thousands of other issues that arise while raising children.
Moms Talk will also be the place to drop in for a talk about the latest parenting hot topic.