I Wasn't Taught About Money — & I Want Better for My Kids

Like most of us, my school curriculum did not include the basics of budgeting, financial planning, and investment — excluding that one lesson about how to fill out a paper check, which was squeezed in between how to sew a pillow and how to read a recipe. I wasn’t modeled these financial literacy concepts at home either — that’s a function of growing up in a single-parent home that scraped by paycheck to paycheck rather than a reflection of my mom’s parenting.

Taken together, it means I never learned the basics of financial literacy — certainly not financial planning and investing. As a result, as an adult, despite my best efforts to learn now, I always feel like I’m playing catch-up. It’s not a pleasant feeling, especially since now I’m the one running the single (solo) parent household and it’s my job to teach my children.

I want better for my kids. I want them to walk into a room with a financial advisor and feel comfortable expressing their opinion. I want them to be confident investors who make choices based on intentional planning and thoughtfulness. I want them to learn all the things I didn’t. (If Instagram’s 2023 Trend Report, which noted that “financial literacy is a priority skill for Gen Z” is any indication, they want better too.)

Wanting better is easier said than done. I’m dealing with tweens who still vaguely believe credit cards are magic pieces of plastic that make the things you want simply appear. Luckily, according to financial expert Jen Hemphill, “It’s never too late. A lot of grown-ups never talked to their parents about money, right?” In a conversation with NPR, Hemphill encouraged parents to start talking about money with their kids even if they themselves aren’t entirely comfortable or confident in the topic. “The sheer act of talking about it brings confidence.”

Talking about it is certainly a great start, but it is only that — a start. This year, I’m committed to teaching my kids about financial literacy, and here’s how.

Giving Them Opportunities to Earn Money

In an article for Fatherly, Dr. Matthew Pagirsky, neuropsychologist and certified New York State School Psychologist, noted that “research suggests children who receive [an] allowance are more sophisticated about money than those who don’t.” 

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