Financially Illiterate

Financially Illiterate

We all want it.  The problem is, not many of us understand it.  And, the even bigger problem is, even fewer of us understand how to keep it.  We’re talking about MONEY!

Where would you search to find the most financially literate teenagers in the world?  You might guess one of the money capitals of the United States – perhaps Wall Street or Silicon Valley.  But, you would be wrong.  No, you would have to travel across the globe to China to find them.

Most American young adults and teens truly don’t have the financial knowledge necessary to make wise decisions regarding their money.  Only a handful of states require education programs to include the basics of financial literacy to their students.  Being financially literate means that you understand how to manage money, how money works in real-world applications, and how you can use money as a tool to help others and grow your own stability and security.

So, if our kids are not being taught the value of the dollar in school, where will they learn it?  Well, financial literacy begins at home long before college and “the real world”.  Turns out, as annoying as your parents may have been or as you may be as a parent, they’re the ones that lay the groundwork for future financial smarts.  Studies show that college students whose parents took a hands-on approach are less likely to get into trouble with credit cards.  This is extremely critical, because some financial decisions made from lack of knowledge can have lasting effects on their financial state.

April 24, 2015 marked the 19th year of the national program, Teach Children to Save.  This program is sponsored by the American Bankers Association and organizes bank employed volunteers to help young people develop an early habit of saving their money.  Developing this habit and continuing to develop it with age appropriate activities, our children can begin to better understand how to manage their money and in turn the future of our economy.  But, one day at school can’t replace the importance of learning about money at home.

In honor of Teach Children to Save day, we asked some of our First South Bank employees how they were taught to save or how they are teaching their children to save.  Here’s some of what we heard:

Braden Rimbault, Credit Analyst
As a 23 year old who graduated college less than a year ago, I’m relieved to say that I don’t have any kids yet. However, growing up, my parents taught me to be frugal and did this by example. My mom is one of the most notorious bargain hunters I know, especially at Kohl’s with the 30% off coupons she receives on occasion. She even got me listening to Dave Ramsey back in high school. Everything my parents taught me about money growing up boiled down to one sentence: “Live below your means.” Starting with nothing but my car and my apartment back in the summer, I think I’ve successfully made the transition from “college broke” to “postgrad broke.” Everyone who has been in college can appreciate that difference.

Melrose Carter, Customer Service Associate, Glenburnie
My son is teaching his 3 year old son to save by giving him 30 cents for his “chores”.   When he receives his “pay” he is to put a dime in the collection plate at church, a dime in his piggy bank and the last dime is his to spend.  He has learned to save, donate and be helpful around the house.

Sabrina Martin, Branch Manager, Greenville Arlington
When I was younger, and even now, my mom stressed the importance of saving anything I could. She would tell me to try to save some of my birthday and holiday money and not spend every dime of it. She even opened me my own savings account, and I remember going to the bank with her and cashing my checks. I would keep some and save some. When I got older and had my own checking account, she told me when I went to the store or restaurant and swiped my card that instead of writing down $13.50 in my register book to write down $14.00. The thought was if I rounded up my transactions to the next dollar not only would I be somewhat protected from over drawing my account but the change was also building up in my account, so I was saving too. I still do this today, because whole numbers are easier to work with and I save or move that leftover change to my savings account each month. It seems like a small amount, but over time that change has added up and has become a good safety net in case I ever have an emergency.

Hillary Mayo, Branch Manager, Greenville Boulevard
The way I first started learning about the value of a dollar and what it meant to save goes back to my early elementary years. Representatives from our local community bank came to our school and did a presentation on what a ‘bank’ was. They taught us the responsibilities of having your own money and why having an account at a bank was useful. The best part was they told us that once a week they would have a station set up in the gymnasium where we could come make our own deposits into our own accounts all by ourselves!  After this, my mom and I went by the branch to get my account opened. I was so excited to have my own account. I remember asking my mom if there was anything else I could do around the house to earn some more money because I had to make a deposit every week. (It was a requirement in my mind.)  On the mornings the bank was going to be at my school, my mom would wake me up just a few minutes earlier. We would sit at the kitchen table together after breakfast, and she would help me count my money and show me how to fill out my deposit slips. It was a challenge for me to deposit a little more each week. I was amazed to see how quickly things added up. I will be forever grateful for the time my mom spent with me early in the mornings showing me how to deposit my whole $2.36 into my own account. I learned the value of a dollar at an early age. I credit how hard I work now making sure I pay myself first on payday to those early years!

We’d love to hear from you how you were taught to save or how you are teaching your children to save!  Leave us a comment!