A piggy bank was my very first experience with money. It was simple. I knew that you stuck coins and bills through the slot on the top. But I didn’t know what happened to the money that went into the bank. Was it supposed to stay there? Could I spend it or did I have to save it?
The piggy bank is still most kids’ initial introduction to saving money. I bought each of my children their own piggy bank when they were babies. As a parent, I know the critical role I play in teaching important money lessons, and it doesn’t stop with the piggy bank. It gets more challenging as children come of age and start asking questions about credit, investments and even retirement.
My children, now 15 and 17 years old, face a less certain financial future than I or even my parents did, and they’ll need to equip themselves for long-term financial security. It’s never been more important than it is now to guide children toward a financially secure future. Even though wages are rising, the pace of growth remains sluggish and the retirement programs many Americans once counted on for their golden years face an uncertain future.
The good news, though, is that all of us can improve the security of our futures through financial literacy. With a better understanding of the basics of finance—how to save, budget and invest—we can increase both our earning potential and our prospects for a solid financial future.
This past summer, my children both landed their first jobs and were excited to start earning an income. It was fascinating to watch them both bring home their first paycheck, only to find it was a lot less than they had anticipated. That day we talked about taxes, what they were and how that money gets spent.
Understanding financial basics is critical, particularly for younger people who are just starting out and can make mistakes that hamper their long-term financial success. For instance, U.S. Bank’s 2017 Student Financial Literacy Study found many students misunderstand credit and what affects their credit score. The majority of students surveyed by the study, for example, incorrectly believed a delinquent loan or credit card balance would be removed from a credit report once it was paid off. That misunderstanding could have a long-lasting impact, affecting everything from their ability to get a mortgage to the interest rate they pay for a credit card.