April was the 20th anniversary of Financial Literacy Month in the US. This year, the movement was overshadowed by the global coronavirus pandemic and has many wondering if financial literacy matters in the current environment. It matters more than ever! A new survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) finds that nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) Americans say the COVID-19 crisis is causing stress on their personal finances. Financial education will play a pivotal role in the economic recovery of our country. A big opportunity lies with educating our children about personal finance so they are equipped to thrive as adults. However, most states require very little if any personal finance instruction at school. The current shelter in place environment provides an opportunity for parents to help fill in the gap left by a lack of school requirements in this important topic. Here are some things you can be doing with them while sheltering in place to position them for a brighter future.
- Online personal finance classes. To supplement what your kids are learning in school, challenge them to learn about a new topic and suggest personal finance. There are a variety of places such as Khan Academy and Outschool to take online classes or learn about personal finance. Junior Achievement has also put many of its activities and resources online for virtual learning opportunities. Next Gen Personal Finance has a variety of money games in its Arcade page on its website as well as lots of lessons on various personal finance topics.
- Pay them to do work. Offer to pay them to do jobs you might normally pay others to do. While I am paying my cleaning lady to not come, I am also paying my son to do some of the cleaning jobs she normally does. Not only is he earning money, he’s also learning the important life skill of how to clean a house. Whether it’s cleaning windows, washing cars or cleaning the bathroom, it’ll keep them busy, teach them how to earn money, and how to clean up for themselves.
- Teach them about giving back. Another important money value for many people is sharing their resources with those less fortunate. My family has regular conversations about how fortunate we are and how we can help those who are struggling and less fortunate. During this pandemic, we’ve donated to the local food bank, gone outside to pick up trash and pull invasive plants in honor of Earth Day (also in April), and written cards and checked in on the elderly in our community. With so many people struggling, now is a great time to emphasize to our children how important being generous with our time and money is.
These are just a few ideas about how parents can teach children of various ages some useful life lessons about money while sheltering in place. It’s up to us to make sure we come out of this positioned to thrive in the future.