What School Doesn’t Teach You About Money


With the new school year either here or just around the corner, it’s time to fill your shopping carts with #2 pencils, protractors and all the goodies the kids will lose by the second day of school.  If they’re headed off to college, it can be even more exciting. But, instead of needing you to replace their pens on day two, your college-aged child will probably be calling to ask for money by then. 

It’s such a ritual that, at this point, many of us don’t really question it. But how much do our kids actually know about money?  You might want to only include the lessons you taught them, because their school probably didn’t teach them much at all.

Common core and other national guidelines don’t include requirements for teaching budgeting skills, how to balance a checkbook, or even explanations of basic concepts such as credit, loans, or mortgages. Basically, the last time your children learned about money at school, it probably involved finding out how many apples and oranges they could buy in some middle school math word problem.

We talked to some credit union members about the lessons they want to pass onto their kids, and below you’ll find some of our favorite lessons to teach your kids. 

  • Pay yourself first.  No one else is going to make you a financial priority, so don’t make them your financial priority.  
  • If you want to know if you can afford something, check your budget. If you have to check your checking account, you can’t afford it.  If you reconcile your accounts every month, you’ll have a pretty good idea how much is actually in each account.  But having enough money isn’t the same thing has having enough money.  Plan ahead. Make a budget. Execute the plan by sticking to that budget.
  • Take risks while you’re young.  You can afford to be more aggressive with your retirement and college funds while you have plenty of time to make it back up, so don’t be afraid to push those funds a little bit.  That said, not saving for retirement is not a risk. It’s just a bad idea.   
  • Make sure the Joneses are keeping up with you.  It’s easy to get lost trying to compete with your peers and almost as easy to ignore those consumer pressures entirely.  But what about the third option?  Instead of ignoring their financial situation, check in every now and then to see if they need help.  Our communities are better when we care about each other.

Whether your kids are in diapers or their kids are wearing them, it’s never too early or too late to teach financial literacy.  Make sure you’re instilling the right lessons, and check back in with Destinations Credit Union, because we’ve always got plenty of resources for young people to learn the lessons they aren’t getting in math class.

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