Thursday, October 20, 2011

Want-it-now! and other Financial Pitfalls

Financial Literacy Now!
I don't usually put things off. I'm more of a "get the job done so that I can go on to the next thing" kind of person. But sometimes frustration can trigger a rather nasty episode of procrastination. Tomorrow is a professional day. The kids get a long weekend, but teachers will be at a variety of subject-specific conferences. I have been invited to present a workshop for K-12 teachers on the subject of financial literacy, a subject that is just a blip on the K-12 curriculum.

I wonder how many teachers will sign up for my workshop on "lessons that boost storytelling skills and build financial literacy." They don't have to teach kids about money (unless they are teaching the four-week financial unit of Planning 10) so why would they bother attending my workshop? And, as I know from having done these workshops for teachers before, the ones who come usually have a decent level of financial literacy already. So how is my work advancing the financial literacy cause? Why bother?

Financial and other Pitfalls
Last week, the business editor at The Province newspaper asked me to write a week's worth of tips and advice on money for kids between the ages of 10 and 20. This is part of a larger financial literacy series that starts Sunday, October 30th. My tips will run the second week.

As I pondered the assignment and wrote the seven tips, along with an additional three pitfalls that teens and their parents should avoid, I started to think that tomorrow's financial literacy workshop may not be futile after all. When I drafted the pitfall on delayed gratification (see #3 below), I realized this: Just like every dollar counts when it comes to spending and saving, so does every workshop participant count when it comes to building a more financially literate citizenry and a brighter economic future for all of us.

I have to remember that I don't have to have the world today, the "world" being a country in which every student leaves high school financially literate. The truth is I want this now, but I can wait and doggedly continue to do my part to make it happen one step at a time while side-stepping frustration and procrastination.

On the same note, here are three money pitfalls that youth and their parents should try to avoid.

#1 Not letting teens manage their own money.
Teens, don’t let your parents handle your finances. Parents, give your teens some money to manage entirely on their own. It is far better to regretfully blow $500 when you are 15 than $5,000 when you are 25, or $50,000 when you are 35.

#2 Making money a taboo subject.
Don’t make money a taboo subject in your home.  Money should be one of the easiest things to talk about at the dinner table: the good, the bad and the ugly. Share everything, including the gaps in your knowledge. Learn together.

#3 Not practicing delayed gratification.
Don’t buy into the idea that you have to have the world today. Even when you have saved up for something, slow down and wait seven days before you go out and buy it. You don’t want to be a slave to a want-it-now attitude. Practice some self-control.

Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme at telus dot net.

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