There has been a Facebook posting going around recently which says:
WELFARE ISN’T A CAREER PATH
I hit the LIKE button because there is so much wisdom in so few words.
Those of us who haven’t experienced welfare as the family business have to kind of step back and see why young folks might envision long time public assistance as the way to make a living.
Children and youth are highly influenced by their environments, parents, or whoever is responsible for raising and educating them. So, if a young person comes from a family who accepts public assistance as the norm, how will she or he change without learning alternatives and seeing different behavior modeled? I believe some of this learning needs to be about finances. How can no earned income and low-income folks do better if they don’t learn the basics?
Over the last few years, I have been part of a team of women who are lucky enough to do life skills mentoring with a small group of young women who are in high school. Some of the students come from home situations which involve parents who work many hours at low paying jobs, or who rely on some level of public assistance. Geographically, they live in an area which has pockets of poverty and an overall cultural acceptance of pregnancy in teens.
We feel lucky. These students are smart and willing to learn. This year we included an enhanced focus on teaching sound bite pieces of financial information. Topics were as basic as understanding a checking account, using a debit card, or how the little print on credit card applications needs to be carefully understood. The students read short quotes from my book, Financial Freedom for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, and from other writings. One afternoon we bravely did a short segment on stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. As with adults, some were interested and some weren’t.
We learned that the concept of saving (except for purchase of an iphone) was pretty much a foreign idea in general, and that retirement savings and even being able to retire at all were totally unheard of in their community. And for now in this economy, it’s pretty difficult to show how interest can work for you (make your savings grow) instead of against you (credit card debt & student loans). As always, tiny bites work well for everyone.
At the end of the school year we offered to give each student a copy of my book at no cost. We suggested not asking for one if it was just going to get pitched into the trash (always a possibility with anyone and financial books). Big surprise, they all signed up to get copies. It was exciting to know that this group of students has access to basic financial information which teaches about a life choice of creating income and the value of investing. Will they all read and learn, hard to tell. At least we took a chance on each other.
I’m hoping that someday my Facebook page will show postings from one or more of these young women which read something like this:
Then I will hit the LIKE button again and again!
Until next time.