By mid-June, most students have packed it up for the summer. The pool is open, the sun is out and exams, homework and the annoying buzz of an early alarm are all in the rearview mirror. While summer is typically a time of rest and relaxation, many parents still like to try and work an educational component into the summer’s activities. Schools often provide reading lists or other workbooks to supplement the summer break, but this summer I have a suggestion that may be a learning experience for the whole family.
Use this summer to begin to talk with your child about their relationship with money. If your children are very young, begin with simple concepts, have them save a little money for a treat at the pool concession stand or a special toy they’ve been eyeing. Include thoughts on responsible spending and saving for your middle school children and begin to introduce concepts of proper debt management, how a credit card works, the benefits & dangers of interest, the importance of saving, etc. for your high schooler. If you have one ready to head off to college, do not let them out the door without a spending plan in place and concepts about how they will make the most of their finances throughout the next four years.
If you could use a little refreshing yourself, or just don’t know where to start, there are tremendous FREE resources available. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.
- Your Local Library: Start out here and find an age appropriate book on finance to help get you started. There are an ever growing number of useful titles to help teach these concepts to our young people. An unedited list from searching “personal finance for kids” on Amazon.com can be found here for a few ideas.
- MyMoney.gov: This is a new website developed by the government’s Financial Literacy & Education Commission. It takes resources on financial education from more than 20 different federal departments, including the FDIC, SEC, and Social Security Administration and compiles them all in a way that’s easy to use and apply to the everyday consumer. It’s a great place to gather some personal finance basics for both children and adults.
- Practical Money Skills: This is a site developed in a partnership with Visa and the Educators Advisory Council. It features games (including the very popular Financial Football), calculators and videos all designed to help educate consumers and kids on issues related to their money.
- Econ EdLink: This site is brought to you by the Council of Economic Education and seeks to focus on those children in K-12. The site features games, news and ready to use lessons that you could use with your children right away.
- Your Financial Planner: If you already have a trusted financial planner, ask if they’d be willing to talk with your children about a specific issue or to just give a general overview of what they do and why it’s important.
More and more states are putting legislation in place mandating some level of financial education in the K-12 classroom, but the disparity between what is mandated, the supporting resources provided and the time it will take schools across the country to put meaningful lessons in place are a different story. Take an active role in assuring that your children become part of the solution in fixing this country’s financial illiteracy crisis. You might just learn a thing or two yourself.
Have a great summer!
Chip Workman, CFP®, MBA
The Asset Advisory Group