In a recent survey conducted jointly by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, teens age 14 to 18 were asked various questions about their view of the future. While only 46% of the 570 teens surveyed said they had a full or part time job, 63% of them said that it is likely they will be rich someday. It’s interesting that someone who has no job experience and no concept of earning money, budgeting or the cost of living would just assume they will be rich in the future.

I can relate to that way of thinking. When I was a teenager, I didn’t necessarily think I’d be rich, but I thought I’d be better off than my folks. Even though I didn’t have a job yet and didn’t have to pay any bills, I was sure it would be easy to make more than my parents for 2 reasons: I would go into a higher paying profession and salaries would rise astronomically by the time I got out of college. I didn’t take into account cost of living increases or the economy or inflation or anything like that. I didn’t realize that that buying a car means not only having a car payment, but also paying for insurance, gas and regular maintenance. I also blanked on the fact that in addition to rent I’d have to pay for utilities, renter’s insurance, internet service and furniture.

I think it’s great for kids to be optimistic about their future. I also think parents have an obligation to teach them about the real costs of living before they get out into the “real world”. Armed with the right information, there is no reason why these teens can’t one day be rich. So, let’s make sure they get it. Here are some resources for parents and teens: 1. Schools sometimes offer budgeting or personal finance classes, but they are typically reserved for upperclassmen as an elective and may be hard to get into. Neighborhood centers also offer these kinds of classes on occaison. 2. Credit unions offer free Basic Budgeting and Intro to Credit classes. Verity held a “Girls Just Wanna Have Funds” class this year which was very successful. Contact us if you are interested in these kinds of classes. 3. Credit University is a financial literacy program sponsored by credit unions that reaches teens in King and Pierce county schools. If you would like for Credit University to visit your child’s school, I can give you contact information.


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