We all want our children to lead better lives than our own. Sadly, more young people believe they’ll struggle financially as they enter adulthood. According to a 2012 Junior Achievement study, only 56% of teens surveyed think they’ll be as financially well-off or better-off than their parents. Alarmingly, this represents a 37% drop from a similar 2011 survey. Financial independence has become a hot topic in our country. With credit card and student loan debt almost totaling $2 trillion dollars, a bleak job market, and a slew of other concerns, it’s no surprise our children are nervous. To help deal with these issues, The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability was created in 2010. One of the key objectives of the President’s Advisory Council is to find ways to improve the financial capability of young Americans.
President Obama’s commitment to financial literacy was evident when the White House unveiled a new website to help educate young people about financial matters. The site, MoneyAsYouGrow.org, covers twenty important financial concepts that all young people should know before they leave high school. The site divides its lessons among five age groups, beginning with age three and ending with 18 years and older. The material for each age group covers critical concepts and includes activities parents can use to teach financial literacy to their children. The content is fundamental, but crucial, and many parents will probably find themselves learning a thing or two along the way.
Some lessons teach why it’s important to wait before purchasing something you want, the difference between wants and needs, and how to make informed financial decisions, especially those related to a college education. The site also does a great job of emphasizing the importance of saving, stressing the need to save at least 10% of what you earn, the time value of money and compound interest, and the importance of setting aside at least three months’ worth of living expenses in case of an emergency.
MoneyAsYouGrow.org is designed to inspire families, community organizations, nonprofits, and businesses to use the website as a tool to promote financial literacy. Families can use Money as You Grow to start a dialogue about money and teach kids important lessons about saving, making choices, and avoiding debt. Community organizations like libraries, schools, and religious groups can provide Money as You Grow to families. Nonprofits geared toward kids, families, and financial literacy can share Money as You Grow with their members. And businesses that reach young people and families are encouraged to share Money as You Grow with employees, customers, and clients – an ambitious agenda indeed, but one that is sorely needed in our current economic climate.
The lessons in Money as You Grow are based on more than a year of research, drawn from dozens of standards, curricula, and academic studies. Experts from a wide range of institutions and organizations lent their expertise to the project. Among the contributors are Junior Achievement USA, Operation HOPE, the Charles Schwab Foundation, the JumpStart Coalition, the Council of Economic Education, and various individuals from the world of academia. This all-star working group’s final product is a great step toward delivering basic financial literacy tools that everyone can use and enjoy. MoneyAsYouGrow’s down-to-earth language is simple to understand, and will empower children and their families as they make their way through the various lessons. As a financial expert and educator, I found that the site contains a wealth of information and resources that will help make our children fiscally-fit. I encourage you to visit the site, tour its lessons, and share the information with your friends, family, and others. Until next time, I’m Thomas Fox for Cambridge Credit Counseling.