Only 17 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance, and Pennsylvania is not one of them. That means it’s up to parents.
Some local schools are teaching kids by helping them open their own savings accounts and encouraging them to save a little every week, but all parents can all learn from this example and do the same with their own kids.
Daumere Rodlien learns math, English, science and all the traditional subjects in eighth grade at Propel Charter School Homestead, but he’s also learning personal finance. Each week, he goes to te front office to deposit money into his savings account through the “Fund My Future” program. “I earned it from doing dishes, cleaning my room, cleaning the house, chores and stuff,” Rodlein says. He’s been saving a few dollars to $20 a week since the program started when he was in third grade. He now has more than $1,000 saved for college.
Toni Corinealdi runs the program at all Propel schools, inspired by research. “The research shows that children with a bank account in their name are three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate,” Corinealdi says.
As an incentive, when they make their deposit, the kids are enrolled in a raffle where they can win money, and they get to pick a snack or gift, like a “Fund My Future” t-shirt. Rodlien says, “It does help motivate me. It helps me think, ‘I can get something right now instead of having to wait for the future to get the money.'”
Corinealdi says for many families, the account they open through “Fund My Future” is their first bank account ever. This past fall, the program expanded beyond the 13 Propel schools to allow any family in Allegheny County to sign up and start their savings account at any bank they want. It’s one of many ways parents can help teach their kids about money.
“We, as parents, have to have the mindset that this is our responsibility to teach our kids about money,” says Carrie Coghill, a Certified Financial Planner and CEO of Coghill Investment Strategies. She knows money is a taboo subject in many families, but she wants to change that. In fact, 69% of parents have some reluctance to discuss money with their kids, and 61% only talk about money when their kids ask about it.
Coghill says instead, we should have regular conversations with our kids on how we choose to spend, save and share our money. Here are some suggestions:
–Create Money Monday or Finance Friday and a topic of dinner conversation on those nights
–Take your kids to the bank and explain that money from the ATM is not “free”
–Let them make the financial decisions on a summer outing like a trip to the zoo or Kennywood
–Use cash so they can see how much money is being spent
–Find out what they really want and teach them the discipline to save up for it with an allowance
And finally, help them make the connection between school and money to instill the motivation to do their best. “Why do they go to school? They go to school to learn skills to learn a job to be able to support themselves someday,” Coghill reminds us.
Financial Football & Financial Soccer
Books for middle & high school aged kids:
“The Missing Semester” by Gene Natali Jr. and Matt Kabala (Pittsburgh authors)
Books for younger kids:
“Money Sucks! Money Strategies for Real Life” by Miryam Gordon
“The Kids’ Money Book” by Jamie Kyle McGillian
Books for adults:
“Serious About Wealth” by Rob Wilson (local author)
“The Opposite of Spoiled” by Ron Lieber