Who Taught You About Money

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By RICHARD T. HARRIS

Somewhere along the line, perhaps at several stops, an interested someone took the time to teach you all that you know about money, or not.  Everything we know came from someone else or from your own efforts to learn.

Unfortunately our schools aren’t teaching financial responsibility and most parents don’t teach the basic precepts of money including what it is, what it’s used for or what to do with it once you have it.  Why is this true when we live with such easy access to abundant information on this subject?

It seems, after questioning dozens of folks over the last 18-20 years, that most people have learned about money the hard way, trial and error, and a significant number have failed to learn at all.  If you don’t know it well, it’s most difficult to teach it to others.

There are a few principles that can be taught at a very early age, even as early as 4-6 years old.  Principles are the foundational truths that have been proven true through the ages and are as true today as they were hundreds of years ago.  They are simple, but not easy.

A first of those principles is to spend less than you make.  Seems simple enough, but many people in this country have learned to use credit to spend more than they make or in many cases even more than they have access to.

A second principle is to put off something good today for something better later on.  Even first graders get this concept when asked, “Would you rather have one video game today or if you wait until the end of the month have two? The choice is yours to make. You may choose only one.”  The vast majority of the children choose to wait and get two video games at the end of the month, time and time again.

There are, of course, more than two such principles, but those are a good foundation upon which to build.  There are many good sources for additional learning about money for young folks.  The Book of Proverbs in the scriptures is a great resource; “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is also a good resource.  There is really no good reason to put off learning how to handle money in such an open information environment. But there are many reasons to take a positive step and learn the principles of good money management – and pass them on.

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