My daughter, who’s 13, has some regular babysitting gigs. After running to the bank to deposit her checks a few times, I decided that a teen checking account would be a good option for her. Nikki’s very budget conscious and actually lectures me about frivolous spending, so I was confident that she could manage the responsibility.
It was an interesting experience as a parent to realize that my child’s financial experience is going to be fundamentally different from mine. When I was a teen, my mom taught me the basics of budgeting, reconciling a statement and using an ATM card. Today, my daughter will probably never balance her checking account since she can see her funds anytime she logs onto a computer and she may never receive paper statements or bills for anything.
So, my challenge as a parent is to help her learn how to manage her money digitally, how to remain connected with her finances when they’re not tangible. Nikki didn’t actually understand a debit card is like a check until the banker gave her the ubiquitous starter check set, and then her eyes got big as she understood the power of a debit card. By the way, she’s thrilled that she can personalize her card image and has already told three friends about how awesome it is to have a debit card even though she’s never used it.
As a communicator, I work with clients every day to help build awareness of these shifts to electronic commerce while as I parent, I have hardly thought about how to teach my daughter to be financially savvy and protect her personal financial information electronically. She knew to ask questions of the banker (like “how do you make money off of these accounts?”), but she needs to learn how to ensure she’s using a secure WiFi connection if she’s checking her balance. Or, that setting up a text message update may mean she gets fees from her phone service.
Financial institutions are savvy at pointing out new products and offerings, including the teller who pointed me to the teen account. And while they have financial education content available for teens, banks and credit unions may be missing an opportunity to connect with parents who need to teach their kids more than basic budgeting. MoneyAsYouGrow.org or www.jumpstart.org are good resources for parents who want more information.
What tips would you share with parents about electronic financial literacy?