Financial Home Schooling

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Regarding the April 15 Business article "Kids Get Money-Smart" and Gerald Malakoff's April 19 letter stating that schools should include financial planning in the curriculum:

I couldn't agree more, and some schools already do this. However, if we wait for overburdened schools to add courses in financial planning, our children may end up ill-prepared to enter the adult world. In addition, as with any curriculum, whatever they learned would need to be reinforced at home. Children mimic what they observe in their families.

My children, who are in fourth and seventh grade, were able to quickly grasp the distinction between gross and net pay. In 40 minutes, using play money and a pay stub, I showed them the difference between what people make, what they bring home and, finally, what is left over after obligations such as bills, retirement savings, charity and allowances are satisfied. Along the way, they learned about mandatory and discretionary expenses, Social Security, insurance, investing, and taxes.

What was the hook to get them to sit still for 40 minutes? The next raise in their allowances was contingent upon it.

At a time when financial independence is increasingly a function of an individual's money management skills, we owe it to our children to ensure that they are prepared.

It begins at home. Anything the schools might offer is icing on the cake.

JOEL LOVELACE

Arlington


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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