Financial problems have reached epidemic proportions in our country and around the world. Fact is, these days everyone thinks about money and worries about their financial well-being from crushing debt to retirement shortfalls. And of course, the stress associated with financial issues can have devastating emotional impact. I just read an excellent white paper, the National Financial Capability Strategy from the National Financial Educators Council (http://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org) which reviews and synthesizes recent efforts toward developing a set of standards for financial literacy education and evaluation. Having been on the financial education bandwagon for decades, it is good to see that this topic is finally trending in a positive direction.
As I shared with someone recently, if you don’t have great money skills in your personal life, suddenly when you become a business owner you don’t just magically become excellent with your business financials! Which matters to me because I don’t help people start companies so they can fail! And cash is king so you better know how to manage it!
Education Delivered via Engagement and Real-World Applicability
Years ago my Dad helped in the creation of Robert Kiyosaki’s CASHFLOW game which really opened a lot of eyes to the importance of understanding the financial side of life especially if you are in the process of wealth creation. To this day, I still use the game to teach adult learners one night during my NxLeveL® for Entrepreneurs class and it’s amazing how much they gain in just three hours because of its real-world applicability.
When I recently interviewed Sharon Lechter, (the powerhouse behind the Rich Dad Brand for 10 years and now working with the Napolean Hill Foundation) she shared that she had created a new board game called ThriveTime for Teens. This is a terrific and fun reality game that helps young people face real life situations so they make better decisions related to money. It’s no mystery that interactive content improves retention and understanding of financial education material.
Financial Education Begins At Home
The most important factor that will contribute to long-term financial success for your family isn’t making a lot of money. The most important factor is behavior. It affects everything in your life, including the way you earn, spend, and save. If you have more month than money; if you are racking up a lot of debt; or doing nothing to save for your future, it’s how much you keep that counts, not how much you make. You need to spend time thinking and talking about the elements that guide your behavior. $5.00 coffee’s everyday? A closet full of clothes with the price tag still attached? If you have arguments over money or no discussion at all, whether married or single, the most important conversation you can have is to sit down and talk about your financial goals. Do you know what you want? Do you know what your spouse wants? Are you both on the same page? And once you figure it out, how are you going to pay for it?
What have I learned? That my personal behavior has a big impact on my financial future which is affected by my attitude about financial matters, my knowledge (or lack of it) about financial matters, my beliefs (which may be wrong or misguided) and my values, what is really important to me and serves as my guide? My financial behavior is also affected by my goals in life which will require patience and discipline. I have also learned that I can modify and guide my financial behavior with a well-constructed plan. I also know that I have to talk about money with my children (that’s where games are so powerful) so they get to financial intelligence a lot sooner than I did.