Teaching Financial Literacy, Why is it Important?
Written by Nakisha Blain
Teaching financial literacy is crucial to a well-rounded education because money is security. If we skip teaching our kids about money, we set them up for unnecessary hardship later on in life.
What is Financial Literacy?
Financial literacy is understanding how money works and how to manage money.
Despite being able to summarize it in a sentence, teaching financial literacy, and learning about financial literacy is complex and often challenging.
We start learning about it from a young age by watching our parents and their money-spending habits.
Then we learn things in elementary school, like how to count coins and bills and make change. In high school math, we practice calculating interest and principal.
But even with all these lessons, the financial education of most people still needs to improve.
Teaching Financial Literacy: Parental Habits.
Whether you realize it or not, we start teaching financial literacy when our children are young by them observing how we use our money.
It starts with children observing our spending habits. I tell my children when the budget is getting low. And then I explain to them why I have to save the money we have left for bills or emergencies.
We can either support their learning of this or damage it. So, for example, when people give my kids money as gifts, I rarely let them go over their budget for things.
If they get $20 but want something that is $25, I do not give them the extra $5. So they have to pick something else or save their money for that $25 item.
By being firm with spending limits, I am teaching them to prioritize and do their best to make their money count. And I am constantly reminding them that they can choose to save their money, although they rarely make that choice.
Simply put, as parents, we are most responsible for modeling and reinforcing good money habits. However, we also need to show them how to prioritize and be happy living within their means.
Teaching Financial Literacy: Academics
Financial literacy is also full of academic skills.
In younger learners, that looks like learning to recognize coins and count them based on their value. In older kids, that may look like understanding and calculating interest. Both of these skills are covered in most math curricula.
However, there are other essential skills that are necessary for financial literacy that often aren’t covered in general math classes.
One example of that is saving for retirement. Did you know that depositing small amounts over a long period is more profitable than depositing large quantities over a short time?
Another example is amortization calendars. Many states require new homeowners to receive an amortization calendar from their mortgage company. It is a spreadsheet showing exactly how much interest and principal you will pay on each payment until the debt is repaid.
When you are choosing a curriculum for your financial literacy studies, it is essential to make sure they include critical, and also practical skills like balancing a checkbook, tracking spending budgeting, and saving for retirement.
Teaching Financial Literacy: Entrepreneurship.
Another essential piece of the financial literacy puzzle is understanding entrepreneurship. Building a business requires very different skills than managing a family’s finances. Including important lessons about entrepreneurship is important.
Entrepreneurship, Academic Skills.
Entrepreneurs must be able to raise capital, valuation, set prices, and evaluate return on investment.
While these seem like complex skills, even young children are capable of building successful businesses with help from their trusted adults.
Entrepreneurship, Character Traits
Entrepreneurship also teaches a lot of great character traits, too.
All young business owners must be patient while building their businesses. But, unfortunately, it takes a while for word to get out, even for the best products or the tastiest food.
To build a successful business, one must work on it every day, even when you are tired or distracted. And in doing this, we can learn diligence and the satisfaction of doing something hard.
First, selling a product or providing a service means getting out there and interacting with people. So you have to learn how to get their attention and open up to you about what they want.
Second, working in a business is rarely done solo, so our young leaders will get first-hand experience working with people, organizing projects, and keeping people focused.
Third, it will allow our kids to practice celebrating hard work and experiencing failure. Both are experienced together when you are part of a business.
Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills
The most important part of teaching financial literacy and entrepreneurship to kids is the benefits of their problem-solving skills.
By giving kids real problems to work on, you motivate them to try harder and work longer to solve their challenges.
Kids and Entrepreneurship
And while not all children will grow up to be entrepreneurs, their lessons can be life-changing even for a 9-5 employee. Things like hard work and problem-solving can have benefits that spill over into all parts of our lives.
Why Use a Curriculum?
A financial literacy curriculum will ensure you don’t miss essential skills like budgeting, balancing a checkbook, or reading an amortization calendar.
You will feel confident that you are working hard to ensure no gaps in their education and that you are doing your best to provide them with an excellent education and set them up for success.
Teaching our kids about financial literacy is a long process that takes years and years instead of days or weeks.
It’s very important that we be good role models and stewards of our money, because our children will learn more from watching us than they can from academic exercises.
However, academic exercises are also essential to ensure they get a rigorous and diverse education, whether they are just managing their family’s finances or a business.
We’d love to hear from you; what topics do you want to see in our next financial literacy course?
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