I recently spoke at the Jump$tart Coalition National Educator Conference in Washington, D.C. Jump$tart is a group of diverse financial education stakeholders. These organizations work together to educate and prepare our nation’s youth for life-long financial success.
The conference was a professional development event for Pre-K through 12th grade teachers dedicated to financial education in the classroom. Let’s hear it for those teachers, who are on the “front lines” of financial literacy education!
Through the efforts of organizations like Jump$tart, today personal finance is being taught as a standalone course or incorporated into other subject matter in public, private and charter schools across the country, at every level from preschool to post-secondary.
I was thrilled and honored to participate, as one of my Core Values is empowering people to make successful financial decisions through education. And the best way to start – with children and teenagers!
My presentation was entitled Fintech, FOMO, and Financial Behaviors. I’m pleased to share a few highlights.
The Most Important Lesson in Financial Education
I was asked to start with the most important lesson I could pass on to the next generation. That was easy!
Live within your means. Spend less than you have coming in.
Do this and everything else will fall into place. If you live beyond your means, you will face stress and anxiety. Your flexibility to make life and career decisions will be limited. You will be weighed down by trying to finance a lifestyle that you cannot afford. Your relationships will be negatively impacted.
My dad, Dante Greco, put it best, telling me when I was a high school student: “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.”
Saving for the Future Rather Than Spending for Today
I next spoke about an idea that is often difficult for young people (hey—older people too!) Delaying gratification. Resisting the temptation of an immediate pleasure in the hope of obtaining a valuable and long-lasting reward in the future.
Why do young people have such trouble delaying gratification when it comes to spending? Well, for starters it's because they’re young! But today’s kids face pressures that previous generations never had to deal with—social media and online shopping.
Instagram immediately shows them what’s cool—the “gotta have” items that “influencers” are touting. Facebook constantly reminds them of what friends and others are doing for fun—never mind the cost. Amazon fulfills their wishes with one-click. Short on cash? You can “buy now, pay later” with just a few more clicks.
Fintech and FOMO
I followed with a discussion of FOMO —the fear of missing out. Young adults especially are affected. And when it comes to investing, fintech, or financial technology, can make it easier for them to go along with the crowd.
It’s so easy to open a brokerage account and trade stocks using fintech apps such as Robinhood. Buying stocks or even cryptocurrencies becomes kind of like a video game played with friends, with your “score” being short-term profits. Who wants to miss out on that?
I explained that many of these behaviors will prove to be financially destructive. It may sound old fashioned, but investing in diversified funds for the long-term will win out as the most effective way to build wealth.
Financial “Must-Knows” for Every High Schooler
I concluded with a list of money and job-related items that every high-schooler should know. A few of the highlights:
My last point was that investing can be more than just buying stocks or bonds.
Young people need to also invest in their values— those things most important to them. Maybe it’s spending quality time with loved ones or giving back to the community. They also need to invest in themselves, which means committing to a lifetime of education and learning. And taking the time and energy to keep themselves in good health.
One of the highlights of the conference was the day after my talk. I was having breakfast with some teachers, and one commented how much a quote from one of the speakers resonated with her: “You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.”
I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said that was me speaking and that was my dad’s quote. I think he would be proud.
Thanks again to the teachers who participated. We have such a common bond in the goal of educating the next generation on financial literacy. I truly admire your dedication and tenacity. And thanks to the Jump$tart Coalition. Your resources and commitment is helping to ensure that students will learn financial skills needed to be successful!
Shari Greco Reiches
Shari co-founded Rappaport Reiches Capital Management with one goal - to maximize the return on life for her clients. Please connect with Shari below. She loves to talk about investing, financial planning, and Barry Manilow.