Michael on June 21st, 2010
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If you wanted your child to learn how to play baseball, who would be the ideal teacher?

You: Dustin Pedroia.

Okay, I love how the guy plays the game, but let’s just say his current professional career makes him unavailable to teach your kid for the next 20 years.

You: Darn.

Realistically, who would you want to teach your child how to play baseball?

You: A good local baseball coach.

Me too. I’d hope for the best baseball coach around. Ideally, he’d be someone who’d have played in high school, maybe college. He’s a natural teacher – maybe that’s his day job.  He’s really good with kids and knows all about the fundamentals.

You: Makes sense.

Now let me ask you a different question. Who would you want to teach your child about money?

You: About money?

Yes.

You: For my son’s contract negotiations?

Ah – no. He’s got to learn how to hit off the tee first.

You: The kid’s got loads of potential.

As did Drew Henson.  So, who would you want your kid to learn about money from?

You: Not sure.

For my children, it would be someone with the same characteristics as the baseball coach, with an obvious shift in the area of experience. Said another way, I’d want someone who was really good with money to teach my children. Someone who was a proven excellent saver, understood how to use credit effectively, and had a great work ethic. Obviously, someone  patient with a knack for connecting with others would be an ideal candidate.

You: Makes sense.

Unfortunately, the federal government disagrees.

You: Huh?

The government has a different suggestion for advancing financial literacy.

You: What’s that?

Themselves.

You: How so?

Through their own web site.

You: Why is that a bad idea?

It’s kind of like learning baseball from Bloat.

You: Who’s Bloat?

Bloat – you know the kid. He was the 8-year old who really hated sports, especially team sports.  His parents made  him play, but his attitude was horrendous.   So the coach batted him 9th and put him into right field, where the ball never came. Still, he managed to get in the way of his teammates’ efforts, once getting his chewing gum all over the baseball bats.  If you ran into Bloat years later – he’s still looking for that first real job at age 38 – would you ask him to teach your kid everything he knows about baseball?

You: Of course not – he’s the last guy I’d ask.

Precisely. So why would the federal government, an institution run by a group of multi-millionaires, many via the old-fashioned work ethic or marrying money or inheriting money, who collectively spend billions more of other people’s money than they have, be the ones to teach us and our children about money and saving?

You: I wouldn’t choose them.

Doesn’t matter.

You: Why not?

Bbecause they’re the federal government – they decide and they’re confident. It’s like Bloat saying look man, I didn’t care back then, but now I am really into baseball and I am going to turn your son, and both his and your future around. And you’re thinking -

You: Yeah, right.

My exact reaction when I read Is There a Cure for Financial Illiteracy?

Your thoughts?  Who’s going to teach you and your children about money basics?

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3 Comments to “Who should provide financial education?”

  1. Kaelan says:

    Wow…as a recent college grad (from a very prestigious school, none the less!) I still feel completely in the dark about most financial matters. I am just grateful that my school had sense enough to give me a copy of this book along with my diploma. What, practically, can we do to improve our own financial literacy, or our children’s?

  2. Michael says:

    @Kaelan: Glad your university gave you a copy of Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck! To improve your financial literacy, I recommend reading additional mainstream books and seeking out the counsel of more experienced people you respect. Not necessarily those with apparent wealth but those with their financial acts together. Unfortunately, it is easier to find the former than the latter.

    As far as your children, be the best role model. In my mind, it is no different than other aspects of parenting. Lots of misinformation and “better” ways to do it, but nothing can be as powerful or substitute for your behavior.

  3. Michael says:

    @All: Suddenly Dustin Pedroia has a lot of time on his hands thanks to his injury. Last time I make any stupid comments.

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