‘Click to Buy’: Why We Owe Kids a Real Financial Education

Jennifer Waddell is vice president of branch banking at Axiom Bank, N.A., a nationally chartered community bank headquartered in Maitland.

Last year, an estimated 2 billion shoppers (about a fourth of the world’s population) spent more than $4 trillion on online purchases.

That’s a staggering number – and there’s no sign that our increasingly digital shopping habits will slow down any time soon. Spending money is as simple as as a tap of the finger, phone, or card … and while that can be more convenient, it’s also a mixed blessing. According to CNBC, credit cards and online shopping are the chief budget-busters among U.S. households.

So it’s no surprise that more U.S. schools are revisiting the issue of financial education. But what’s more remarkable is the breakneck pace at which they’re doing it. In 2021 alone, 25 states introduced legislation to teach personal finance courses in public high schools. Several have already passed and signed that legislation into law.

Here in Florida, we’re still working things out. In 2019, our state’s public schools added a new elective class on finances … but not one that is required for graduation. Meanwhile, the economics curriculum moved in the opposite direction, dropping its previously required section on money management.

That leaves parents to equip their kids with the skills to succeed. But what’s the best way to do that?

  • Lead by example. Here’s something that hasn’t changed over the years: Children learn by watching the adults around them. But setting a good example can require a little extra effort these days. If you aren’t making trips to the bank or paying in cash, it’s harder for your kids to understand what’s going on.Look for ways to add a little transparency in your financial decisions. After you swipe your card at the grocery store, explain the receipt to your child. For older kids or teens, sit down with a monthly bill or bank statement and discuss the expenses that keep your household running.
  • Use tech-forward tools. Piggy banks and quarter jars may be the traditional ways of teaching kids about finances, but there are other even better options. Our children will grow up managing money through apps and screens, so don’t be afraid to teach them that way. Apps like PiggyBot and Bankaroo offer a “virtual bank” where little ones can keep track of their saved allowances. Others, like Savings Spree, use games to teach lessons about money.Older tweens and teens can put lessons into practice with a “training” debit card – one with custodial limits on how they can use it. Set them up with a mobile banking app, so they can see their money grow over time, and consider offering rewards for good habits like saving.
  • Enlist a teaching team. Being a parent is hard enough without becoming a homeschooling pro. If you just don’t have time to develop a financial curriculum from scratch, don’t worry: There are resources available to help.If your child does attend a school where personal finance electives are available, encourage them to take the class. If that’s not an option, other community organizations – such as nonprofits and local banks – often provide programs and workshops tailored for kids and teens.

Giving your children a firm financial foundation is one of the most important ways you can prepare them for security and prosperity later in life. When they head out into the world, you’ll know they have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

Jennifer Waddell is vice president of branch banking at Axiom Bank, N.A., a nationally chartered community bank headquartered in Maitland. She can be reached at jwaddell@axiombanking.com.


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