According to a 2018 Merrill Lynch survey, almost 80% of parents are financially supporting their adult children at some level.
As the parent of an almost-teen daughter, I fully intend to be part of the other 20%.
However, in order to advance my goal of a future financially self-sufficient adult, she will be helped tremendously to have some basic personal finance education.
Like all of us, her adult choices and decisions will impact her financial health. The less she has to learn by trial and error, the less apt she will be to make the poor decisions and expensive mistakes that often come with managing the business side of our lives.
Beyond avoiding painful pitfalls, learning healthy money habits and the building blocks of financial wellness: understanding the difference between our needs and wants; learning to plan and prioritize spending; practicing delayed gratification, restraint and discipline – all of these can benefit one’s life far beyond just money matters.
Learning financial literacy shouldn't feel like a math class. It should be practical and provide a path and specific habits that lead to success. Budgeting, credit and compound interest is meaningless without delayed gratification and the willingness to make trade-offs in order to choose something bigger later on.
It's not financial information that will foster financial wellness. It's about behavior and choices; why we make spending decisions and how much we want our bigger financial goals and what we are willing to give up to achieve them.
I also happen to believe that it helps when taught by someone who has put all of it into practice themselves and has achieved their own financial goals.
Today's young people are unprepared
Almost 70% of 18-24-year-olds have less than $1,000 in savings with almost half of those having nothing saved. Young people without savings are less likely to attend college, and credit card debt is correlated with higher college drop-out rates.
Almost 80% of millennials are in debt, with the average person leaving college $40K in debt.
We want our kids to learn healthy financial habits
According to an Edelman Financial Engines survey: 89% of surveyed parents felt it extremely important for their children to establish healthy financial habits. Extremely important.
A full 91% of parents believed it was their job to teach their kids about money. Which is good because it's not being taught in schools. California is one of five states with no personal finance education standards for any grade level.
But many parents are reluctant to discuss money matters
Finances are often a sensitive, personal and emotional subject.
Almost 70% of parents feel reluctant or uncomfortable about discussing financial matters with their kids, with 61% only discussing money if their kids initiate the conversation.
Like learning how to drive, sometimes it's better left to someone who isn't the parent, or who doesn't also own the car.
An Adulting course during freshman year in college may be too late.
The cost of not knowing:
The failure to understand basic concepts of how to manage life’s finances will impact our daily lives and can have years, even decades of negative repercussions.
A National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) 2019 survey found that a diverse group of respondents estimated that their lack of financial knowledge cost them an average of $1,230 just in 2018 alone. 41% of people attributed annual financial losses above $500 to lack of financial knowledge.
Our finances and our well-being:
As adults, the most common form of stress for both men and women are about finances. At the same time, research has linked happiness, confidence and well-being with financial wellness and healthy financial habits.
Establishing healthy financial habits early in life feeds on itself. Beyond the money value, financial wellness: being debt-free, having savings in the bank, protecting one’s credit is the path to empowerment: the ability to follow opportunities.
It also is a key to freedom from personal or professional circumstances that are unhealthy or not in our best interest. This is especially important for young women.
There’s an alternate to debt and living paycheck-to-paycheck. It helps to see what can be gained for those willing to prioritize longer-term goals.
I'm proof that restraint, financial goal-setting, discipline, tracking, saving and starting early works – because I’ve been successful doing it myself. Any person with decades and decades of runway in front of them has a huge opportunity on their hands.
For information on upcoming financial literacy workshops in Los Angeles for young adults: teens, college students or older. Organizations interested in sponsoring a financial literacy workshop for young people or for parents, please get in touch.
Investing in financial literacy education might just be the best money ever spent.
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