The need to teach kids about money is a fact rather than debate. What is debatable, however, is who should be doing the bulk of the teaching. Many people say that financial education is best left to the experts, while others say it is the responsibility of parents.
Professionals Should Do It!
- Professionals are experts in finance.
Professionals have an advantage over parents when it comes to teaching kids about money in that they have specifically studied or been trained in the subject. They can provide very specific definitions of finance terms, and they usually see the big picture of how the many areas of money all connect together. This generally allows them to teach very confidently—most parents, by comparison, do not feel they are qualified to be educators to their kids on money topics.
- Individuals who study or work in finance have excellent networks.
People who work within a specific industry usually form connections with others in that industry. Finance is no different. The network financial experts have allows them to pool their knowledge on the behalf of their students, and in some cases, it allows them to lobby for community or legislative support of finance education classes and programs.
- Financial experts have authority.
Kids look to parents for information, but sometimes they can disregard what parents say specifically because the data is just one set of many they get from the same source. When experts give financial information, kids often pay a little more attention, simply because they are hearing it from someone new.
- Experts have time.
It’s not unusual for the both parents to work in the modern family, and in some cases, second jobs even come into play. Parents have very little time to sit down with their children to talk about finance in depth, especially when everyday household and after school activities are added into the mix. It is the job of a financial expert to learn and give information about money, however, so they can focus on working to provide good resources and classes.
Parents Should Do It!
- Parents know their children.
Each child has distinct personalities and needs, as well as different learning styles. Experts often design financial curricula more on a one-size-fits-all approach, however, expecting to have to mass teach. Parents can use their knowledge of what their children are like to tailor financial lessons and make them more memorable.
- Parents can provide real-life experience.
Even though a financial expert can provide great information, what really might make it “stick” is the chance to apply it. In this regard, as strapped for time as many parents are, they are arguably in a better position to reinforce good money habits through everyday activities, such as grocery shopping. Some people say money education should start as early as preschool, so assuming a child leaves home around age 18, this means parents can provide an example and check consistency for more than a dozen years. Financial education programs run by professionals typically run no more than a year at best and generally lack follow up.
- Parents can benefit from being their children’s money teachers.
Statistically speaking, many parents aren’t doing so well when it comes to money management. If parents leave all the money education to experts, the children learn, but the parents do not. If parents learn about finance themselves and pass on the lessons, then both generations benefit instead of just one.
- Parents have distinct money philosophies.
Just about everyone has a particular way of looking at or approaching money. If an expert is teaching kids to save and the parents are sending the message that money is for spending, kids can become very conflicted or confused about what to do, leading to inconsistent financial behavior from the children.
Both financial experts and parents have some advantages in regard to teaching kids about money. It might be that the best route is to have parents and experts work collectively, with each side contributing what they can to ensure that kids remember and apply money information. How this partnership can be forged to provide statistical improvements, however, has yet to be determined.