Financial Literacy: A New and Necessary Frontier Part 1 of 3

Financial Literacy. Unfamiliar with the term? Hopeful that it is roughly synonymous with developing “money sense”, the ability to plan, budget, and live within one’s means? If that’s the case, read on! Financial literacy is more than a new term; it’s a movement–a movement with many branches committed to putting economic skill into the hands of adults, teens, children, and even more specifically, girls. Throughout this series I will draw on information from three of the strongest voices for girls’ financial literacy, Girls Inc. (GI), The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools(NCGS), and Independent Means Inc. (IMI). Each reference used in this article is taken from these organizations’ respective websites, which are listed below.

Girls and Money
The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools reports that “less than 5% of high school and college students learn basic financial skills, such as saving, budgeting, and investing (Financial Finesse).” Considering that “90% of women will be financially responsible for their own well being at some time in their life (IMI)”, that’s a startling discrepancy. In addition, when asked in a national survey the extent of their interest in learning more about how to manage money, 33 percent of girls in grades 9-11 said they were “very interested” and 47 percent said they were ‘somewhat interested’ in learning more about how to manage money (GI).” The writing is on the wall; it’s time to equip girls to become financially competent.

Into Action
This series will examine several practical areas of financial literacy and offer suggestions for helping your daughter to grow in each. This issue focuses on attitude, the “perspective” component of financial management.

Encourage an attitude of creativity and resourcefulness. A sense of deprivation only creates frustration. When your daughter wants something new that is out of her reach financially, help her to first consider whether she has anything on hand that can be altered, combined, or completely “re-invented” into the item she wants. For example, “recycling” old clothes and handbags into new creations can become an art in itself, and carries a sense of originality and pride.

Perspective is key. At times, money management brings us face-to-face with limits and loss, two experiences that are especially hard to process as a child or teen. Reframe the deprivations into what they actually are: deliberate and powerful choices that allow your daughter to attain what she really wants. Using a positive mindset and financial literacy skills, your daughter has the opportunity to set and reach goals. Grappling with the emotional aspects of money gives your daughter the opportunity to clarify her values & discover creative ways to accomplish the dreams that reflect those values. The goal is not a minimalistic existence; it is living the way she ultimately desires.

Our next issue will investigate one of the most challenging areas of developing financial competence: budgeting. Sound impossible to instill in your live-for-the-moment child or teen? We’ll look at how budgeting can help your daughter reach her dreams–and how to encourage her to get on board!

References:
The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools: http://www.ncgs.org
Independent Means, Inc.: http://www.independentmeans.com
Girls Inc.: http://www.girlsinc.org

 

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