There are certain advantages to being raised by a financial planner.
During college, I worked for a car dealership. One day, I received a call at work from the IRS claiming that I didn’t file my taxes and they were going to take all my money away.
The fear and growing pit in my stomach blinded me to the fact that the agent was kind of informal and that the deadline wasn’t even close.
The “agent” on the phone started to giggle. It was a prank call from my dad. He was confident I would either forget or didn’t know to file my taxes, and he wanted to make sure I filed.
He was right; I was oblivious.
He explained the general process for filing taxes and told me the deadline. My next fear was that I would have to pay, but he explained poor college kids like me don’t usually pay income taxes.
I discovered the accounting students at the university I attended filed other student’s taxes for free. They filed for me, and I received my first tax refund.
This experience demonstrates how I learned about finance from an expert who also happens to be my dad.
These experiences put the idea in my head that parents have some responsibility to teach their kids about money.
I alluded to this in a column a few weeks ago and received an email from a reader who felt their lack of knowledge of money disqualified them from teaching their kids. The reader also wondered why schools couldn’t do more to teach kids about money.
I have long been a proponent of our schools teaching more about personal finance. Most students leave the proverbial nest and usually learn about finances the hard way.
Some get in trouble with credit cards and destroy their credit. Others forget to file their taxes or don’t have enough withheld and end up in debt to the IRS. Making that kind of change to the curriculum would be expensive and challenging.
Where does the buck stop?
A friend recently shared with me a music video in which the musician complains the knowledge he gained in school is worthless and that he wished the school system would have taught him life skills he could use.
The video is called “Don’t Stay in School” and has been viewed more than 16 million times.
The video got my blood boiling. A lot of blame is heaped on parents and schools, but not enough on the individual.
If you enter adulthood and realize your knowledge is lacking in a particular area perhaps you should take some initiative and learn those things for yourself.
It is worth repeating that I do believe that parents and schools can do a better job preparing children in financial matters.
The world is too big and vast for school and parents to be able to prepare you for everything you will encounter.