Author: Hannah Henry
Published: Tuesday, 06 Mar 2018
As a child, I never noticed a budget in our household. There were no coupons trapped under a magnet on the fridge nor did a budget-conversation occur at the kitchen table when it was time for my brother and me to get back-to-school supplies. It may come as a surprise, but many families don't discuss money with their young children. In fact, a Junior Achievement (JA) survey reported that 84 percent of teens look to their parents to learn money management skills, yet 34 percent of parents don't talk to their children about personal finance as they want to let their "kids be kids".
According to Jayne Pearl, an author of financial parenting books, there are two reasons why parents don't talk to their children about money. The first revolves around the idea of not living up to being the “money role model” they want their child to have. The other reason? Parents don't feel that they are fluent when it comes to money topics. "We think we need a Ph.D. in finance to be able to teach our kids, when it's not true at all. All you have to do is talk out loud about what you're doing as you're going about your business," advised Pearl.
My personal narrative about this dissonance between parents, kids and money conversations came to me a decade later. As a "legal adult", I found myself in a financial pickle when a calculator, that was required for one of my college courses, was going to cost me $300 and the "recommended" textbooks (which of course, as a studious college student, I always bought) would cost an additional $500. I’m no math-wiz but $800 for ONE semester’s supplies seemed a little steep. An increase in my nannying hours during my college career was not going to alleviate the stress of swiping my debit card at the campus bookstore. Therefore, I had one option—create a budget.
I quickly discovered that getting my nails done, clothes shopping with friends and going out to eat didn't make the cut for my "need or want" budget. As much as I WANTED to do all of those things, it was not as important as making sure I was prepared for my college courses.
The secondary phase of budgeting was evaluating my income. Fortunately, my summer job provided enough income for me to go through a year of textbooks. In fact, most semesters I even had some money left over, which, of course, went straight into my emergency savings account. Through this (intimidating but necessary) process, I quickly learned how to be resourceful in the way that I purchased textbooks and school supplies (Note to my freshman self, use half.com).
Recently, I asked my parents about budgeting and personal finance as my focus on saving money has transitioned from buying college textbooks to now, saving for my first home. Turns out the reason my brother and I never noticed any budgeting items was because my parents were having conversations one-on-one about spending and saving. While I was not included in those conversations that would bring light to the importance of a budget, my bad money habits forced me to educate myself on personal finance a decade later in my early 20s.
For the 34 percent of children (or those in your 20's), you're in luck! Organizations like Junior Achievement and with the millennial go-to app, Pinterest, personal finance is just a click away.
Check out our Junior Achievement USA Pinterest page for tips and tricks for creating a budget and saving for your future.