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Bring Back Home Ec: Why Teaching Basic Financial Literacy Skills is More Important Than Ever

It is amazing how many people that come to see me for bankruptcy questions say “why wasn’t budgeting and how to handle debt taught in school”.  People also comment that their parents did not teach them about finances and that it was never discussed in front of them when they were children.   Home Economics has not been offered in our schools for several years.  Recently there has been a desire to reintroduce Home Ec into school curriculum.  With the requirement to use debt to meet basic living requirements, such as purchasing a vehicle, the importance of children learning skills at school is significant.  Debt levels have never been higher.  So basic skills taught in Home Ec can be used to make household money go farther.

Learning the fundamental concepts of running a home is slowly becoming extinct.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day when it is a requirement for both parents to work outside of the home or when there is only a single parent working full time to support the family.  Children are not introduced to basic concepts such as preparing healthy meals, growing their own vegetables and sewing, for example.  All of these examples of basic Home Ec can have an economic impact on the household.  With soaring debt levels these basics are a budget necessity.

If Home Ec isn’t taught in school it is important to teach your children at home so that they are prepared when faced with running their own homes.  Children are more impressionable when they are younger, so start early to develop their healthy relationship with money.

Here are a few tips that you can pass on to your children:

  • Spending should only occur after money has been earned.
  • Live below your means. This creates flexibility when faced with surprise expenses.
  • Introduce the concept of “needs” versus “wants” early on.
  • Saving should be a fundamental part of living. Attempt to set goals for money being saved so that there is a purpose for the savings.  Write down goals.  The combination of setting and reviewing goals will help in successfully achieving the desired outcome.
  • Good grades are expected and help around the house is the price of family life. So avoid tying these to allowances.
  • Try to introduce budgeting into everyday situations. For example when planning a birthday party sit down with your children before hitting the stores and figure out how much money is available and make a list that balances to the money available.
  • Introduce the concept of giving. Charitable giving will improve their social awareness.
  • Considering using cash instead of debit or credit cards so that your children see that money is being used to make purchases. This helps develop a respect for money.

Several online resources exist to help you with the teaching process.  Check some out:

Introducing these concepts at an early age will give your children a significant advantage as they get older.  They will become financially self sufficient which is a great gift!

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