While money may not grow on trees, it can sprout from wise choices
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner
Let me dispel the myth. We financial advisers do not have money trees growing in our offices that we just give to clients. We do, however, have shovels because we are frequently called to dig our clients out of deep financial messes. Every so often we get clients who are proactively trying to improve their financial situations. What makes them different is that the seed of financial literacy was planted at a young age and nurtured through the years. To be honest, these are the clients that keep us going.
As a military financial counselor, I travel around the country to where duty calls. I can’t remember the last community I went to that did not have budget problems. Many state legislatures are either so broke or dysfunctional that they cannot pass effective budget legislation, hurting both teachers and students. While money may not literally grow on trees, it is important to teach young people that they have the power to grow their own money tree.
Isn’t this the time to stress the importance of financial literacy in our schools?
It did not take me long to realize that if you want someone to learn about something, you have to require them to do it. That’s why I get so disappointed when I see states cut funding to programs designed to increase student financial literacy. In my adopted home state of Oklahoma, the state just announced it will cut all funding to the Personal Finance Institute. This summer workshop conducted by the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education offers teacher training on how to teach courses in Oklahoma’s Passport to Financial Literacy Program.
Many young people are forced to learn how to manage money on their own.
Millennials keep getting told by us older folks that they have too much student debt and they need to start settling down. But we need to give this generation a break. There is evidence that millennials are doing a better job at saving money than Gen Xers. As discussed on Nightly Business Report, millennials are the modern-day equivalent of the depression babies. They are less focused on consumption and have a greater aversion towards debt. In this case, the seeds of financial literacy were planted when they saw how their parents dealt with the Great Recession. Their experiences have helped them understand the importance of growing their own money tree, but they still need financial education to keep it alive.
It’s not too late to start growing your own money tree. Just remember that it takes time to grow – and lots of patience.