(By Brandon Hansen/Brandon is the managing editor of the Chewelah Independent)
Why aren’t we teaching more people how to be financially responsible?
The word “adult” is a funny one.
It is supposed to mean someone that has perhaps matured and knows how the world works. As a kid, I figured most adults knew what the heck they were doing. As I am now an adult, I now realize most of us are faking it.
It is a marvel to me how there are so many facets of society that we’re simply not prepared for. Simple financial things are never talked about or presented to high school or college students. People seem to be totally okay with getting payday loans with ridiculous interest rates because they don’t know any better. People don’t see any issues with getting severely in debt just so they can have a shiny toy.
(And believe me, I have mud in my eye. Do I really need the replica EWU Football helmet in my living room? Nope. Of course not. But hey… Go Eags!)
Recently financial advisor Ryan Moore hosted a talk about dealing with end of life financial issues (wills, power of attorney, ect.) at Washington Federal Bank. He’s done this a few times with nice crowds showing up to get legal advice for free. As somebody who doesn’t really know who to give his Xbox One to if he dies, it really opened my eyes. You don’t think you need to cross your T’s and dot your I’s but you really should, even if you already have a plan for your passing or your parents passing.
I always grew up hearing the common mantra from friends and family, “Well if I die, you kids just split things up” or “I don’t have much anyways” or “if I’m in the hospital and am a vegetable just turn the lights out.”
While these lines sound good in a John Wayne voice… they don’t really work that well in real life. This got me thinking about how many people live their lives through just a series of lines you’d expect a cowboy to make while herding up some cattle.
“Our money goes in and out — I don’t know where it goes, I guess that’s just how it is.”
“What’s the point of insurance, I don’t really go to the doctor.”
“I haven’t really planned for retirement, but I’m 30, I have plenty of time.”
“We just live paycheck to paycheck, that’s how it’s always been.”
“I just live within my means and God willing if I have any left at the end of the month, I put it in savings.”
“If things get tough I will just get a credit card.”
“I don’t make enough money to save.”
“I know my car is a lot of money and I really can’t afford it but it’s so cool!”
“We just go out to eat pretty much every night, that’s probably why we’re poor, lol”
We don’t live in an area with a lot of wealth, but money certainly takes a degree of personal responsibility that we’re not instilled with anymore. Had someone explained to college kids what taking this massive amount of debt on for school would entail later in life, they may have thought twice. But nope, it’s a wolf’s market and lending companies have now created a bubble that is preventing younger generations from buying their own houses — something very important to the American economy.
One would venture that you need an educated populace and financially competent citizens to operate properly. Otherwise the select few continue to take advantage of the system. A free market would work better if people… I don’t know… knew what would make them financially free?
Where is the explanation on how to budget and why it’s important to save at the beginning of the month and not at the end of the month? Where is the class that explains what a pyramid scheme is? If somebody wants you to buy their product to “make money” chances are it might not mean financial success.
Instead we have a very gullible public that can’t even decipher memes on Facebook, much less the best way to do taxes or save for the future. It would seem that an economy of knowledgeable citizens would be healthier instead of lending companies and snake oil salesmen to continually take advantage of people.
When talking money these days, people just shrug when explaining their own finances like they’re talking about how they’ve gained 30 pounds since high school. I do the same. “Oh well, I have some money saved up, I guess it is what it is. OOOO new Zelda game? Take my money.”
If you have a leaky pipe in your house, don’t you fix it? If you have a limp, don’t you go to the doctor? If you’re not doing smart things financially, shouldn’t you work on that as well, regardless of your actual income. It’s not even just financials either. Americans aren’t living healthy, sustainable lifestyles, where are the resources and education for that? It’s becoming harder and harder for skilled labor companies to find workers because… people don’t have the training.
It seems that everyday Americans are just becoming more and more unprepared for challenges. Unprepared for adult things. Unprepared for life.