Can You See The Future? We Can!
We know, it’s a bold declaration. Thank Tinker Hatfield. He is an American shoe designer (heard of Air Jordans?) whose approach let us see the power of describing the future we have been trying to build since the Gifting Sense project began. (Learn more about him in the Netflix Abstract documentary series.)
Can you see it? President’s or Family Day Weekend 2041? Families are looking forward to having an extra day to spend together. You and your partner are driving out to your daughter’s home. She and her partner asked you to come for the weekend because your grandson is in the Science Fair Finals and wants to show you the experiment that got him there. There are no podcasts about how people can’t pay their bills. No book on the Bestseller List is about how to manage crushing debt. There are no newspaper headlines detailing the devastating combination of lost jobs and non-existent emergency funds. How did this happen? Two decades ago, as the 2020 pandemic was finally loosening its’ grip, teaching kids about money became as common as brushing teeth.
Parents began to more regularly give their school-aged children fundamental money-smarts during the extra together-time families received from social distancing. The daily economic reality of Covid-19 made it a lot easier to discuss things like needs versus wants and what can happen when expenses exceed income and you can’t build or maintain an emergency fund. Kids started to engage in real-life money math every time they accompanied a parent to the (on-line or in-person) grocery store. They thought about how much they would use and appreciate something before they asked for it. As a result, they were game-ready for all the personal finance decisions that are part and parcel of every adult life.
Think the future we envision is a dream? We disagree. When we think further out into the future, we see all the ways today’s children can almost completely avoid personal financial stress.
Imagine if today’s 4th Graders understood from the end of High School the power of basic financial planning and what can happen without a “Plan B”? Fred Selinger, who teaches Personal Financial Management to college Juniors and Seniors at UCal Berkeley quips in his textbook “The Missing Link”, that the only problem with pay-checks is that they don’t come with instructions. What if every young adult in their first job out of post-secondary school already knew they had to do things like build an emergency fund from their first pay-day forward? Today’s children know smoking is bad for them without seeing the warning sign on a cigarette carton. Let’s make financial illiteracy as unheard of as a modern-day Physician recommending smoking! Humans have moved thinking and behaviour forward on so many fronts, why do we act as though financial stress is an inevitable part of life? We can change the future. We’ve done it before.
Let’s make financial illiteracy as unacceptable as a modern-day Physician recommending smoking. We have the power to change the future. We’ve done it before.
Think what we are describing is a dream? We disagree. When we think further out into the future, we see all the ways today’s children can almost completely avoid personal financial stress. Start your children on their way to a peaceful financial future this weekend. Take even just ten minutes to discuss topics that are obvious to you, but not to an 8 year old; topics like “Where does money come from?” and how being frugal actually has real-life purchasing power. You can most likely do it on your own, but if you want some help, you can find it on our Virtual Café menu of conversation starters. Follow those conversations up by asking your daughter or son to calculate the DIMS (Does It Make Sense?) Score for ongoing birthday or holiday wish-list items, or any potential purchase.
Fundamental financial literacy, and the improved future it can help create, has to be one of the best gifts we could ever give today’s kids; even though we are all living with a lot of uncertainty right now, we hope our vision of February 2041 makes that much clear.