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Personal Finance Mentoring - Integrating the practical and emotional elements of your money.

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Why Wasn't there a class about money in school??

Megan deBoer

I have Virgo in my chart, so this time of year always feels like a refreshing return to Order & Routine - aka, a giant sigh of relief pour moi! The back to school supplies definitely add to my mood - sharpened pencils, fresh notebooks - a fresh start that all of us (in this country, anyway) have in our bones, like it or not.

But when you think of allllllll the classes you attended over alllllll the school years, was even ONE of them about money??? About the practical nuts and bolts? (if you were lucky you learned how to balance a checkbook). How about addressing the emotional aspects of money?? I would like to think that there is at least *one* person somewhere who was lucky enough to receive guidance about the emotional side of money in school, but I know there probably isn't a single one.

We teach sex education (poorly in most cases, but at least it is taught), so why not personal finance? Why is this? Why has this virtually disappeared from the curriculum, when the ONE thing we all have to deal with is money? I have some long answers to that question - but will save that for another time.

The fact that we 'never learned this in school', yet we are still 'supposed to know' leaves far too many people stuck in shame or unable to move forward because there is a real fear of looking or feeling stupid.

If I could shout from the rooftops and call everyone who feels this way out of their homes, the streets would become a party - truly! 

Financial education is STILL a subject that we 'assume' will be covered at home, but more often than not, it isn't. 

If, as a parent, YOU feel unsure, or insecure, about money it can be really hard to bring up the subject with your kids. Inadvertently, a void is created, and from that void in communication some unconscious patterns can develop for the person watching. 

This means that for most of us, our financial education came predominately by witnessing: our parent's mood when the bills were paid (or not paid). The mood before - and then just after - Payday. Our mood when we wanted something that was a little expensive and we knew not to even ask. When one of our parents spent money in secret. Or told us not to tell. Our little minds tried to make sense of these experiences. Learning ways to respond to money in our future.

We all have layers - most are unconscious, and they may or may not be influencing our current reality. Also! Our parents did their best, after all, they were "taught" by their parents (your grandparents), and so the cycle goes.

But here's the good news. If YOU missed this fundamental 'Life Class' about money, there is no reason that you cannot start learning now! 

And...You don't have to be an expert to teach your kids. However, it always helps to be honest. Tell them in a simple, age appropriate way, that you are still learning (why yes, it is ok to not know 'everything'). Tell them that you would make different choices if you could make them again (we ALL have made some mistakes with money, acknowledging this is healthy for you - and them). Tell them that you want to support them in learning so they can make better choices throughout their lives. They will make mistakes, but you can talk about these mistakes and help support them through the learning.

Even if you don't have kids, you can use this same approach with yourself - imagining that you are your own parent, talking to your younger self. Engage in this dialogue (see below). You will simultaneously heal any void that may exist and take the reins of your financial life.

Someday I hope there will be an enlightened class in schools that cover all the financial literacy topics as well as healing some of the dysfunction that has been passed from generation to generation. Until then, we can take the reins ourselves.

Did you have a class about money in school? If you didn't, what do you wish you had learned? 

And...Are you talking to your kids about money? If not, what makes it hard for you?

 

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