At times it seems like there’s nothing more embarrassing than being caught in a conversation about the stock market and having nothing to contribute. I’m not a total idiot, although that point is actually debatable.
While I’m a champion at saving money, investing is another story. I can pinch pennies, hide bills under my mattress and save for enough rainy days to build myself an ark. But ask me how to make the money grow more than in a savings or money market account in the bank and the blank expression on my face would impress a method actor, or George W. Bush.
However, I vow that my daughter will turn out differently than me. If there’s anything I’ve learned from knowing nothing, it’s that there is little more important than having at least a basic knowledge of how the financial world works, especially for young women.
Historically women have left all money matters up to their husbands, and as a result, it seems as if there are always stories in the news about women who had no clue about their family’s finances and get left high and dry as a result — either because their husbands made poor choices, or a divorce leaves them penniless.
When I was in fifth grade, my teacher had everyone in the class pick a stock — and most everyone picked General Electric (and seeing the news of GE’s stock today, I wish I had bought it then and held onto it) — to follow in the newspaper. Over the course of a few months he’d have us look in the newspaper every day to check on the stock’s progress, and then we’d have to follow-up in the paper’s business section to see if we could find a reason for any fluctuations (pre-Internet days, of course). It was a great lesson, although it was pretty basic and a long time ago. Now, because I’ve had no further training in actual high finance, I’ve always had to depend on advisors when I’ve had some money to invest, and I hate the feeling of handing over the reigns of my cash to someone else. I read and watch Suze Orman to try to catch up, but I wish I had started earlier.
As soon as my daughter was born we marched her to the bank (or strolled her, whatever) to open up a savings account. We still go and make regular deposits. She loves it, and while that’s admittedly just because of the lollipops, I like that she has a good association with the bank building nonetheless. When she gets a little older I will buy her one of the piggy banks that has four sections in its belly — Spend/Save/Donate/Invest — and have her pick a charity and stock for contributions to the latter two categories.
I feel like parents, particularly of daughters, have a special responsibility to teach about savings and investing. While it might not become your child’s profession, everyone should have a firm grasp on their finances so that they can make responsible and intelligent choices in their own lives.
Do your kids know about the stock market?