It is never too early to teach kids about personal finance. Many elementary schools are coaching children about money. They encourage students to set up a store of their choice and allow them to ‘do business’ with one another. Fake money and creative imaginations have gone a long way. These children see the results of how quickly their fake money disappears from spending too much or from making bad business choices. In kindergarten, these lessons begin by teaching needs versus wants.
The days of the old Home Economic courses are coming to an end. Learning to sew, bake or jigsaw woodcarvings just does not cut it any more (pardon the pun). Instead, home economics is being converted into personal finance courses and are being taught at many high schools around North America. The Council for Economic Education feels these courses are extremely important, so much so, that thoughts of implementing them as mandatory for high school graduation is being considered.
These early economic lessons include managing credit, balancing a budget and buying large items such as a first car or home. Many experts feel that the current recession’s length and impact could easily affect a student’s future financial behaviour in the same manner the Great Depression affected their grandparents.
The fact is that the life skills required for the 21st century are dramatically different from the current generation’s high school days. It’s imperative the upcoming generation learns to avoid the financial pitfalls that we have all recently fallen into. It’s imperative they understand the repercussions of overspending and accumulating debt.
Children are vulnerable and pick up the spending patterns of their parents, albeit good or bad habits.
The recession has put into play the results of bad financial choices and they are experiencing first-hand the dangers from watching their parents lose jobs, walk away from the homes they can no longer afford or by going on free or reduced lunches in the school system.
The bottom line is personal finance has become more complicated. Teaching them age-appropriate lessons now could save them from the pitfalls of the next inevitable recession. It may be a good idea to take your children to a local bank or financial lending institution with you the next time you go. This will provide them with a one-on-one banking experience so they can better inform themselves for their first loan. Teaching them about finances while they are still young is the best way to ensure that children become financially responsible adults.
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