Recently Laird Norton Wealth Management participated in Junior Achievement Day, where a group of our employees spend the day at a local school teaching financial literacy. There was a quote posted on a fifth grade classroom wall that read: “Literacy is a life-long tool that students will use to learn, explore and understand the world.” If you tack “financial” to the beginning, the definition remains the same. Put simply, financial literacy is about having the ability to apply knowledge and develop skills that will manage financial resources for a lifetime of well being.
Much like a healthy diet, instilling financial know-how in our children literally contributes to their overall well being. After the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, parents are now very motivated to teach their children smart money skills. Our firm is very passionate about helping children learn financial fundamentals and want to help parents do the same for their own children. Most of the time, parents ask us when they should start teaching, what topics they should teach first and to give them some lesson ideas. The short answer is to start early, to take into account your child’s developmental state and past experience when choosing topics, and to conduct lessons through casual conversations. For a (much) longer answer that includes a variety of teaching techniques and a guide for building a long-term education strategy, we suggest reading Becoming Your Child’s Financial Advisor.