From the age of five until around 15, my entire concept of money and managing finances in general was based on observing my parents. How much (or how little) they spent, how often they’d take my brothers and I out to eat, how much they bought me for my birthday/Christmas and where we went on vacation (or whether we went anywhere at all) were all lessons on money – its value, ease of access to it and the thought and time put into using it.
Unfortunately for most people my age, that sums up the entirety of their financial education.
For those ambitious types that try to go about remedying their lack of financial know-how, there isn’t really a lot of good resources out there… or rather I should say there aren’t a lot of resources that won’t be so incredibly boring that we convince ourselves within five minutes that our ‘future self’ can worry about being smarter with our money because we are much too busy with school/life/angry birds to do that right now.
This reality is why I think my generation is sorely under-equipped when facing a myriad of life stages (a.k.a. hugely important money-centric decisions that will have a lasting impact on our financial well-being). And while that may sound rather depressing and hopeless, it’s actually exactly why I love working with the Young & Free program. Young & Free is all about being a resource for young people – providing financial education in a format that is actually interesting – even entertaining. Each website is a place where young people can go to find out about more about budgeting, student loans, saving for retirement, credit scores – all the big life/money information – explained by someone our age, in language that actually makes sense.
It is so important that young people find a resource where they can go to learn more about money matters – whether big life stage stuff or the little day-to-day stuff that seems inconsequential but can have a massive impact on their financial health for the future. I’ve spoken with people my age who didn’t know that paying only the minimum payment on their credit card each month was a bad thing – they were completely unaware that they were being charged an insane amount of interest on their remaining balance each month. The lack of awareness is scary.
There is an endless supply of people and companies spewing infinite ways we should spend our money, but there aren’t a lot of people trying to help us save it. I’m proud to be a part of a program that works hard to be that voice, and even prouder of credit unions for being the type of financial institution that cares enough to prioritize that for their members.
Last week I was interviewed by a local TV station about the financial education that we provide with the Young & Free program. If you’re not convinced by this point, watch the clip below to see (via my muppet-like expressions) that I really am this pumped about improving financial literacy in my generation.