There is a strong and monotonic relationship between financial literacy scores and parents’ education. I was born in poverty and my parents did not discuss finance or money at the dinner table. Throughout my early childhood I yearned to know, “Who was Peter and Paul?” The only conversations that I overhead about money was in the late night heated arguments that was incited by, “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.” As a contributor to the household income, I started working at age nine as a sharecropper in East Texas. Within my first week of picking peas during a summer job, I was able to project my income at the end of each day. I knew how many rows I needed to pick in order to make a bushel and to weigh in each bushel for a price. Ironically, this is a classic case of financial analysis concept that I was not cognizant of at a young age. Yet, I was successful in making enough money to buy the school clothes, shoes, and other items required by extracurricular school activities. Imagine if only I had known about the rule of 72 at age nine. I wonder how many of my classmates would have graduated high school if our elementary teachers would have stressed the importance of saving and investing to become a potential millionaire by applying the rule of 72.
I became financially literate at age 34. Because I did not understand the importance of a budget, I struggled for 16 years of my adult life to survive on planet earth. The financial illiterate aha moment did not come until I started volunteering in the community and teaching credit awareness and the importance of the FICO score at inner city high schools with the Urban Financial Services Coalition Los Angeles Chapter. It was at this juncture in my journey that taught me the importance of buying what I needed versus what I wanted. It help me to literally ice 21 credit cards in a gallon milk jug in the refrigerator freezer and reboot my financial outlook on life. After cleaning up my credit, I was finally able to unthaw and Start Fresh. At age 37, after attending a Fannie Mae first time homebuyers’ workshop, I realized the “American Dream” and invested in real estate by purchasing my first condominium in Los Angeles, CA. This investment paid off in substantial dividends 14 months later with an $80,000 profit upon sale and opting for a corporate relocation to Seattle, WA.
Financial literacy is so important to teach our youth while they are in high school and to prepare them to make prudent decisions as consumers. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) were the major cause of the housing market crash in 2007. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan coined the behavior of consumers and investors that participated in the housing market as, “irrational exuberance.” The asset bubble resulted in overvalued real estate prices and loan products indexed to ARMs that eventually led to a bust. It is important that the next generation does not reciprocate the miseducation of investing in homeownership fallacies that led to the largest economic disaster in history. How will the nation recover? First-time homebuyers and foreclosure prevention programs are key. Financial education should be provided before people engage in financial contracts. Specifically, financial education in public school can provide a base level of financial literacy to help navigate an increasingly complex financial environment.
Lizzie L. Evans
University of Washington
Evans School of Policy and Governance
Revised Edition: January 25, 2015.
14 Bernheim, B. Douglas, Daniel M. Garrett and Dean M. Maki. 2001. “Education and Saving: The Long-Term Effects of High School Financial Curriculum Mandates.” Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 80, Issue 3, pp. 435-465.
15 Full Founder’s Story published at Urban Financial Services Coalition Puget Sound Chapter,www.ufscps.org
16 Copyrighted 2014 by Bank On Louisville