Quick Hits: Girl Scout debt badge. Robert Kearns wasted his life. Procrastinatrix wanted.
I love being a Daddy. I’ve got three kids, and they’re great. They’re also a huge responsibility. There are so many things they have to be taught before they become a fully grown adult that can be released into the world. They need to know how to succeed in all the areas of their life. It’s tempting to offload your parental responsibilities to other authorities, like teachers and pastors, but don’t do it. For example, financial education, if it happens at all, is coming from some of the worst sources. Practical Money Skills sounds like a good thing, until you notice that it’s distributed by Visa and includes lessons like “Financing Your Education” and “Why Credit Matters.” Even the Girl Scouts have gotten into the act by giving the girls a chance to earn their Good Credit Badge as a part of their cookie sales. Don’t let your kids grow up to believe that debt is OK, because it’s not.
If you are a creator, maker, or artist, you might be worried about what it takes to protect your IP. It’s a valid concern, but I would ask that you first heed the warning of the life of Robert Kearns. It’s a cautionary tale for us all, because it’s easy to lose focus when we feel we’ve been wronged. But our crusade can quickly squeeze out the resources we have to grow and produce. Remember that your first order is to bring your creations and beauty into the world. It’s how you serve your fellow man, and how you fulfill your purpose. Don’t waste that.
There are days when just staying on schedule and finishing everything that needs to be finished is a struggle. Apparently, I need a procastinatrix. I’d better be careful when I’m interviewing someone to fill that role, though.
Do you have a Girl Scout connection? Just curious, because I think Dave only got part of the story.
The “Good Credit” badge is part of the Ambassador girl scouts (11-12th grade) series of financial literacy badges, which are sorta-but-not-really tied to cookie sales. Part of the badgework includes finding out trouble you can cause yourself by making poor borrowing decisions. That’s the “real-life borrowing stories” in step 4. That “credit commitment” in step 5? is this: Take everything you’ve learned so far and create your credit commitment. Make sure it includes at least three personal guidelines for how or when you will borrow money in the future. Whenever you think about borrowing money in years to come, you’ll be able to refer to your code for guidance. [In fact, I think you’d be an excellent counselor / guide for this badge..]
Some of the other badges include “On my Own”, which is primarily how to make and stick to a real-world budget that includes your essential expenses and giving to others (the last in a series of budgeting badges that starts with 6th-8th graders). Another is “Buying Power”, which teaches 9-10th graders how to do comparison shopping for major purchases, and how to plan for, budget for, and save up for them.
Honestly I’d rather my teen has an idea of how the banking system works, and how it can work against them. When I moved out and started college at 17, there were so many opportunities to borrow money that made it way too easy. If I hadn’t had a solid financial education from my stepdad I could have gotten in to a lot of trouble. Now that your credit rating can affect so much more–job opportunities, whether you can get an apartment, etc–it seems even more critical.
Comment by Amy |
March 19, 2013
Thanks for the input, Amy. I appreciate it.
I agree that it’s a good idea to know how the banking system works, and how well they market and sell their product (debt) to everyone (to the point where people believe that you need a good credit score to buy a house, rent an apartment, get a good job, etc.). I think that that lesson should be a small part of a solid financial education that includes common sense and proven principles like you had. The number one factor in becoming financially stable and successful, according to a majority of those who have become rich, is getting out of and staying out of debt. Living within your means, buying things only when you can actually pay for them, and setting aside money for emergencies, are the priority lessons for any such program.
Thanks for more thorough scoop on the Girl Scouts. I’m glad they cover a wider picture of finances than just having good credit.
You can’t depend on school and scouts to teach your kids everything, but it’s a good opportunity to keep the conversation going. I kind of like the Girl Scouting approach (in this case 🙂 of spreading this out over 6th through 12th graders, vs the Boy Scouts’ once-and-done approach (Personal Management: http://boyscouttrail.com/boy-scouts/meritbadges/personalmanagement.asp, if a kid works on this as a 12 year old it probably won’t stick).
Our son just bridged up to boy scouts, so I’m still becoming familiar with their badges and expectations for this material. Obviously, this is a subject he’s going to be pretty familiar with, given how much I talk about and teach it.
And I agree, the more I hear about the Girl Scouts approach, the more that I like their structure. Thanks for the information. I just think the lessons that they teach about debt should more closely resemble the way they teach about alcohol. It’s a product with potentially dagnerous reprecussions for your future. Only use it responsibly when you are much older, and realize you can live your entire life without touching it at all.