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Good Financial Habits

Start them Early

Good Financial Habits

Good financial habits, like so many other important skills and knowledge our young people acquire as they grow, should begin at an early age. In many families this early financial learning does occur. In many others, it does not. The evidence is mounting that many young Americans, including many young adults, have not learned basic money-management skills. They know how to spend. But do they know how to live on a budget, save for a rainy day, manage credit and keep out of debt?

With all the demands on schools to get through the normal course requirements, there is often little time left for formal financial education. So the real teaching job falls to us – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, older brothers and sisters, community leaders and any responsible adult who can help influence a young person’s life.

The good news is that every one of us, with a little thought and preparation, can be a teacher. Think of the teaching opportunities offered by that first piggy bank or a gift of cash on a birthday. Income from a baby-sitting or lawn-cutting job offers an excellent opportunity to discuss the value of spending a little now, and saving some for the future. Trips to the grocery store offer a great opportunity to talk to a child about financial choices. Go with a budget and plan to stick with that budget – foregoing the candy, for example, in favor of the milk and eggs.

A child’s first allowance is another time to talk about money and budgeting. Encourage him or her to think about the spending and savings options. Many teenagers make enough money to open their own checking account, perhaps a joint one with their parents. Some kids even make enough money to open an Individual Retirement Account. Imagine what a nest egg they will have in retirement if they start saving for it as teens.

Parents could also pay bills in the presence of their children, review credit card and banking statements with them and talk about how the family budget must account for food, clothing, rent and all the rest. Let kids see you make transactions at the ATM. At the gas pump and the shopping mall, discuss how to pay for what you purchase. Do you use a debit card, a credit card, or cash – and why? When the family’s credit card bill or bank statement arrives, show them the transactions you made together. Help them understand the concept of interest.

And demonstrate the longer term costs of immediate gratification. As they say at collegeboard.com: Imagine being 30 years old and still paying off a slice of pizza you bought with a credit card in college. It sounds crazy, but it happens if you don’t pay off that credit card balance.

Help the young people in your life practice saving and investment skills. If they work, make sure they save a portion of the income regularly. If they use a credit card, make sure they use it sensibly. Help them develop a budget. Ask them to think about their financial future.

We can help. If you know of a young person who can benefit from learning about money management, our Bank would be happy to have a Personal Banker meet with them. If you know of a high school senior in the North Platte area, inform them about NebraskaLand University, a financial literacy scholarship program.

NebraskaLand University is a six course financial literacy scholarship program designed to educate students on budgeting, savings, credit, loans, career and wealth development, identity theft protection and more. The curriculum uses a combination of established financial literacy materials and unique lesson plans created and instructed by Senior and Executive Officers at NebraskaLand National Bank.

The program is offered to high school seniors in the North Platte and surrounding areas at no charge. However, students must complete an application to the program and class size is limited. Each graduate of the program receives a $250.00 academic scholarship if all requirements are met. Each graduate also has the opportunity to earn greater scholarships through a capstone essay contest that is judged by a Bank Committee. Students with the highest scores are the recipients of scholarships in the amounts of $1,000 for first place; $750 for second place; and $500 for third place.

Applications are being accepted now through September 13. Apply today by clicking HERE or visit NebraskaLandUniversity.com for more information about the program.

Our young people control our nation’s financial future. Every one of us can be a resource to them. We owe it to them to do everything we can to help prepare them for the financial challenges and temptations they will certainly face ahead. 

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