Why Girls Need Financial Literacy
May 04, 2013
It’s Sunday which means I’m headed to the grocery store with my clipped coupons and sales ads, a strict budget in mind. I double check that I have my smartphone before I head in because I have several digital coupon codes on there too. I unbuckle my four-year-old daughter and we head in to stock our fridge and shelves for the upcoming week. We stop for a cookie and then start meticulously checking off our list as we go.
It would probably be easier to do the shopping alone but these Sunday trips are part of a bigger family plan: teaching my daughters about financial matters. The one with me today may only be a preschooler, but she understands that mommy only has so much money to spend on groceries and that she makes that money by working for it. Occasionally she is rewarded for her good behavior by picking out a non-list item that is on sale; sometimes there is simply not enough budgeted to make that happen.
I don’t remember really understanding finances as a kid. I had no idea how to balance a checkbook when I went to college or the dangers of signing up for five credit cards in exchange for free T-shirts. I always worked but had no idea how to budget my earnings. I took out student loans that I probably could’ve passed up because it seemed like free money at the time. Now eight years as a college graduate, I am still at least a decade away from paying off that giveaway money.
I don’t fault my parents for my financial deficiencies. They were both busy working to keep me and my brothers alive, fed and clothed. They also came from a time when kids were not a part of the family financial discussion. Why worry little ones with money matters?
Thankfully, times have changed. If our kids stand even a fighting chance of avoiding our financial faux pas, they need to be in the know early in life. If money really is power, our daughters need our financial guidance to excel as independent adults. Consider this:
Women still make less than men. The wage gap is closing, but women in 2013 make just 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. I wonder how much of this is outright discrimination, and how much is simply ignorance on the part of women. How many working women today were taught to research what they deserve in the way of a wage before agreeing to a position? How many learned that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a raise when it is warranted?
Debt is rising. Despite the recent recession, people are still spending beyond their means. Mortgage debt has fallen since 2008, mainly due to foreclosures, but student loan debt has risen by $317 billion. More credit cards are in default and car repossessions also continue to rise. The bigger is better mentality that seems to haunt American culture is still alive and well. If our daughters grow up watching us buy homes, cars and electronics that we plan to “pay for later” they will have a distorted concept of living within our means.
Money doesn’t buy happiness. Wealth seems to be the ultimate goal for most Americans and a lack of it leads to dissatisfaction with life. The assumption then is that an overabundance of money will bring contentment. Instead of teaching our girls to be wealthy, we should teach them to make the most of the money they earn, avoid unnecessary debt and prioritize spending. This is all done through teaching them ways to organize their finances. Women who are slaves to money cannot ever be truly liberated in their career, family or love lives.
The little girls riding in our shopping carts today have the potential to lead the economy in a few decades. The financial knowledge they need to excel starts at home though.
How detailed are you when you talk to your kids about money?
Katie Parsons is a part-time writer for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes in business news affecting major markets in the U.S. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She is also the administrator for a community blog for moms.
Bravo!!! So true that times have changed. We know how media is used to target kids and young adults. They need a solid foundation built early is more important than ever. Keep spreading the word and teaching those kids of yours Katie!
Posted by: Chris Haviaris | May 06, 2013 at 09:11 AM