Parents and grandparents have high hopes for their children. Some say they want their children to be happy, successful and self-sufficient in life. Other mothers and fathers say they want their children to fulfill their potential, earn enough money to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and be successful in their career. Will Financial Literacy improve your child’s chance for success? Will financial literacy make your child happier?
Can Money Buy Happiness?
Is the old phrase, “money can’t buy happiness”, true? Does a happy, successful adult need to understand finance? Do they need to be financially literate? Lots of studies have been done on this topic. Some say money brings happiness, some say money brings happiness up to a certain income level, some say spending your money strategically brings happiness, and some say money may not bring happiness but it does decrease sadness.
Family Values Should Include Money Matters
Parents describe their hopes for their children. However, Parents must establish the right environment so their goals for their children can be achieved. So where does a parent start?
We try to teach our children family values including things like:
- always tell the truth,
- always care about people around you,
- be kind, generous and share,
- take ownership for what you are responsible for and never make excuses,
- be courteous to everyone and never be crude or disrespectful,
- consistently improve yourself and always do the best you can, and
- work hard and show your desire to do well.
However, we include nothing in our family values about money. If financial literacy makes our children happier (or at least less sad), why don’t we teach our children about money matters?
This children’s picture book (Let’s Meet Ms. Money), for 4-6 year olds, is a first step towards financial literacy.
Why Don’t We Teach Financial Literacy?
Parents and teachers do not teach our children about money matters for a variety of reasons. Here are the first three that come to mind. First, most parents and teachers don’t understand finance. For example the PwC Educator Survey found:
- 69% of educators say a lack of qualified teachers is a top challenge of financial education
- 67% of educators say they need more professional development for teaching financial education
Second, one of the first things we teach our children is “don’t be greedy”. Learning about finance is somehow associated with greed and as income inequality grows those who are financially literate are viewed as being greedy. The Occupy Wall Street movement is evidence of this belief.
Third, people don’t want to learn about finance. Many of the concepts which are taught in finance are contrary to the culture here in America. Finance concepts like “spend less than you make” or “in investing time is our friend” don’t square with today’s culture. Our culture is one of impulsive spending and immediate gratification. This is true, even though there are significant benefits of delayed gratification as outlined in the Marshmallow Test.
Financial Literacy: What You Should Do
Financial literacy refers to individuals making informed judgments and effective decisions about managing their money. It does not mean you have to understand every investment vehicle or every lease versus buy decision. Money matters are not difficult to understand. There are basic concepts that individuals should know in order to enhance their financial decision-making. Those concepts along with a change in behavior could improve the finances of millions of Americans.
Financial “know-how” grows over the course of one’s life. The earlier in life these concepts are learned, the better equipped we are to reach our life’s goals. However, most Americans are not given the opportunity to learn important financial concepts. Both the education system and the parenting process have neglected to develop the appropriate skills needed to exceed in every day life.
If you believe Financial Literacy Will Make Your Child Happier, what should you do?
First, you must assess your own competency. If you believe you are financially literate and want to help others, you might take the challenge posed by the professional services firm of PwC.
PwC’s Earn Your Future Curriculum is composed of easy-to-follow lesson plans accompanied by interactive handouts. This curriculum provides students and educators with free and easy access to financial literacy education. The curriculum has certain modules which begin as early as kindergarten. You can download it, teach it, and share it.
If you believe you and your children, no matter your ages, need education to improve your financial decision-making while planning for life events, consider using e-books, webinars or other tools to increase your knowledge base. You won’t be sorry you did.
Financial Literacy Will Make Your Child Happier!
Our site has lots of information and tools to get you on your way to a better financial future. Tools include e-books such as
“Let’s Meet Ms. Money” (a children’s picture book); and
“Family Values with Ms. Money” (a children’s picture book).