One of the wisest statements made about planning for the future can be found in an ancient Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” This is a philosophy that is applicable to your finances.
Our schools are bombarded with challenges in teaching students the important lessons to equip them for life – algebra, science, English, literature, etc. I firmly believe this list of important lesson should include financial literacy. Starting to understand and apply financial concepts at an early age will empower the children to initiate better habits that will ultimately give our communities and country a better financial future.
Financial literacy is a term we use for the subject of financial planning concepts and the act of securing one’s future in a comfortable and confident manner. By initiating such subjects as savings, investing, budgeting, taxes, credit, and other vital areas of life at ages as early as 10, you are setting your child up for success in their future. Too often children are in college or after before they realize what they don’t know. This is on us! As parents, not only should we be responsible for the physical, cognitive and emotional well being of our children but we should include their financial understanding as well.
An area to start a child’s understanding of financial matters is teaching them the value of planning for tomorrow. If a child desires a certain toy or game, ask them how they would pay for the game. Does your child have responsibilities around the house that teaches them that all family members must share in the household duties? If so, perhaps you could negotiate an allowance or “hourly rate” for completing their chores. However, to continue the lesson of financial responsibility, you will save one-half or more of their earnings each week in a savings account. I have often learned with my own children that items purchased with their earnings are cared for much better than those items given them.
Teaching children about the use of banks and proper credit are good starting positions for them understanding these institutions. When I was a very young boy, my parents took me to meet their banker. I was in awe at the marble floors, high ceilings and when he showed me the vault – WOW! I knew at that moment that I wanted to be involved in the finance in some form. But the words of John Gillson, my parent’s banker, still ring clearly in my mind to this day – “Take care of your credit and it will take care of you.” What Mr. Gillson actually meant was that one should only use credit when absolutely necessary and, in the manner, needed to bridge the short-term cash flow needs of the person.
It is critical that our children understand the importance of finance in their lives. The best future you could help them achieve begins with a basic understanding of the impact finance has on their lives and how to appropriately utilize financial concepts to help them live life to its fullest. For additional resources about teaching children about financial concepts, view our Compass Capital Management Videos. Until next time, I’ll see you on the golf course!