My Satisfying Retirement : Financial Literacy


At a recent meeting of the Friends of the Library board, one of the members raised the question of whether our group should, and could, sponsor a series of financial literacy workshops for teens, young adults, and seniors. She expressed concern over the lack of educational outlets for this vital part of living a satisfying life. 

There are real-world consequences in not having an understanding of some of the basics: compounding interest, FICO score importance, short-term versus long-term thinking, and even the risks and powers of proper credit use. Unfortunately, it is very easy to not have access to this foundational information.

Each age group faces distinctive challenges in navigating an increasingly complex financial world. For teens, social media and advertising can create a seriously distorted picture of consumption. What you wear and own, how instant gratification is a basic right, and the whole crazy world of influencers is your school. 

For young adults faced with building their own life, the “shopping lists” are endless. Housing options, furniture, that big screen TV you have always wanted, maybe marriage and children, a car, and let’s not forget any student loan that must be paid for. Credit cards are readily available, but is the knowledge to not get in way over your head? 

Seniors have unique challenges: usually a fixed income without many options to bump up cash flow, ever-increasing health issues, expenses, and needs, and even housing for the future. Older adults are a primary target of scammers, out to separate someone from their home, money, or savings. 

The board member’s suggestion received solid support and will be passed along to the library administration to explore the possibilities. If it can happen, the Friends organization will sponsor the workshops and pay to make them happen.

When I taught a Junior Achievement economic overview class to 5th graders for a few years, I found those children to be blissfully unaware of how this world works. Checking accounts were pretty much a mystery. They knew about credit cards but didn’t really grasp that those charges must be paid. Compounding interest on outstanding balances? No clue. Getting a job after school to help the family? Yes, but no real grasp of how a job interview works, or the importance of dependability and being on time. 

I fully supported the suggestion of financial education workshops. To me, learning how the world of money works is as essential as a good education in any subject.

While this post is a little shorter than normal, I want your input on what I think is a critical part of growing up, and one that is shortchanged too often by our schools, our media, and even our parents and peers.

How important is financial education? How do we explain money literacy to the young and those of us who are vulnerable to some of its traps?  Where can anyone turn for reliable, relatable help?


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