Focus on the parents first, then persuade them to teach their children.
For decades, financial experts like me have urged high schools to teach personal finance along with macro economics — and for the most part, we’ve failed. It’s just too hard to convince each of the nation’s 13,500 school districts to alter their curricula, even if there’s fairly solid evidence it would really make a difference.
Last month, a “panel of financial services industry and academic thought leaders” came up with a clever work-around: Teach parents about money so they can teach their kids.
Sponsored by Lincoln Financial Group, this panel described its effort like this…
The group’s “call to action” centered on parents becoming more educated about finances so they can effectively advise their children on the right steps to take, personally and through the workplace, to ensure they are able to maximize savings, experience financial security and secure long-term retirement outcomes.
I wasn’t a member of the panel but I enthusiastically endorse what they’re saying. One of the panelists was Neale Godfrey, chairman and president of Children’s Financial Network, says only 17 states mandate financial literacy for their students.
“This is not OK,” Godfrey says. “We need to come together as parents, grandparents, educators, businesses, and even politicians, to make sure we build this up throughout the country.”
I couldn’t agree more. While there’s an annual Financial Literacy Month, I’ve compared the success of that awareness campaign to dental visits. Godfrey and her fellow panelists have come up with a concept that appeals to the most basic parental instinct: Ensure my descendants have a better life than I did.
I’m on board. I’m already creating a section of Debt.com to entice parents to teach their children how to be better savers and savvier spenders than they’ve been. I can’t wait to share that with you. If you’re a parent who’s developed a proven tactic to teach your child about money, tell me about it and I might mention it — and you.