What is the RIGHT Age to Start Learning Financial Literacy?
According to a 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal, colleges such as Indiana University and Ohio State University are leading the way in helping students become more educated about their finances. Indiana University has been sending out emails since 2012 informing enrolled students what they should expect to set aside each month after they graduate in order to repay their college loans. Ohio State University is offering a $100 discount off college loans for all students who complete two hours of financial counseling.
At the high school level, as reported by the New York Times in August of 2018, a recent study suggested that high school students should open retirement accounts. “The earlier you start, the more the time value of money works for you,” said Patricia Seaman, a spokeswoman for the National Endowment for Financial Education. When her two children got their first W-2 income, Patricia had each of them open a Roth I.R.A. Her goal was to have her children start a savings habit. “It’s part of taking care of yourself, and creating financial freedom in the future,” she told her kids. No one can argue with that.
But can teens learn financial literacy concepts even before high school? The U.S. News and World Report published an article in 2018 that even children much younger than high school age are capable of understand many financial literacy concepts. Such topics might include delayed gratification and the difference between a want and a need. Melissa Gould, Executive Director of the Morgan Franklin Fellowship Program, agrees. “At Morgan Franklin Fellowship, we accept students into our financial literacy program starting as early as age 14,” she said. “One of the first videos that MFF students watch in our program is a kindergarten student that started his own business. We offer a unique way for teens to look at money, and how they can control their money.”
Morgan Franklin sets their students up for success by having program participants work with mentors. “All of our participants start the program working with a Personal Mentor, usually someone in the household,” Gould continued. “After students complete the first set of MFF courses, we assign a second Financial Mentor. So, with two mentors, you can imagine the benefit for our students.”
So, when is the right time to start learning financial literacy? Gould was quick with her answer. “Right now,” she said, with a laugh. “It’s important for families to have financial conversations around the dinner table. Money and how to manage your money are topics that everyone needs to learn and stay on top of throughout their lives…and Morgan Franklin is happy to help.”