Life / Money

Room to grow: Don't stunt kids' potential for financial growth

What you do — not what you say — will have a greater impact on financial literacy of the next generation

Prakash Amarasooriya, a 24-year-old member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet, last year led the charge for financial literacy in schools. His efforts paid off — earlier this month the Ontario Ministry of Education said it will roll out a pilot program on financial skills for high school students.

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Prakash Amarasooriya, a 24-year-old member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet, last year led the charge for financial literacy in schools. His efforts paid off — earlier this month the Ontario Ministry of Education said it will roll out a pilot program on financial skills for high school students.

Financial literacy — particularly the idea that it should be taught in school — is gaining traction.

I look at parents trying to shove their responsibility onto the school system and it makes me want to throw up in my mouth. Seriously. You don’t think that what you do with your money is going to have more of an impact than what some teacher talks about in a class?

If you tell your kids to save but you don’t save, the mixed message is confusing for children. If you tell your children not to impulse shop, but you never walk into a store with a list that they can see, how do they know you’re not impulse shopping? What you do has way more long-term impact on your kids than what you say. So you’ve got to be walking the talk.

If your money is a mess, look at your babies and decide that today is the day you clean up your confusion so that you can start being for your children what you want them to be for themselves.

Being smart about money is more about discipline than it is about book-learnin’. Sure, there are some sophisticated concepts in money management, but the basics are plain old common sense.

Practise what you’re preaching. If you’re always struggling to get things to come out even,  you’ll make money management look hard. Put a system in place and be disciplined about what you do with your money and you’ll make money management look like a skill.

If you don’t talk about money in your family, you’re sending a message. Maybe you’re saying, “I’m embarrassed about what I don’t know.” Maybe you’re saying, “I feel stupid about money, so I’d rather not mention it.” Or maybe you’re saying, “Money isn’t important enough to talk about.”

Your children are hearing you loud and clear.

People who are uncomfortable talking about money want to unload the yucky job on someone else: teachers should do this; schools should have a curriculum; the bank should teach you what you need to know.

Wake up! The bank is in business to make money. Schools have enough to work into the curriculum without picking up your slack. And as for teachers … they’re just people. Have you seen how many teachers I’ve had on my TV shows?!

The only way to teach children about money is to give them some to work with. And you’re the only person who can give your children money. You’re also the best person to see the opportunities to teach money lessons from when your tots are wee to when your teenagers hit the tall and know-it-all stage.

If you have some preconceived notions about teaching kids about money, those notions will influence how you communicate. If those notions are getting in the way of teaching good lessons, it’s time to flush away your prejudices and open up your mind to all the opportunities to do things differently.

Not talking about your money is one of those things you have got to get over!

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