Why Finance 4 Youth is so important

Posted: February 18, 2010 in Blogging, blogroll, Community, education, Family, Life, Working
Tags: ,

I was talking to a blogger friend of mine the other day and they asked me why I bothered with F4Y.  I’m not one of the big bloggers, I don’t show up on any lists talking about how many readers I have, I don’t even join in with many of the carnivals about Personal Finance.  He piled on by pointing out several bloggers that started around the same time as me or even after, that had become much bigger.  So why do I do it?

I answered with a story about a conversation I had with a young friend of mine.  I had been trying to undo some damage that his family had done when it came to money, finance, and general life.  My young friend had questioned why I was helping him when I had better things to do.  He was appreciative, but didn’t understand why I bothered.  I had other things to do, but I was spending time with him.

The answer to both questions is really simple:  Because I said I would.

Years ago, well before I started F4Y, I was working in a Credit Union, talking to some young people about simple strategies that would help them survive on a small budget.  I was helping one young person at a time, but I knew that there was more that I could do.  I told my co-workers that I wanted to do more, then I corrected myself and told them that I would do more.  I’m sure many of them laughed or rolled their eyes.  Over the years, I’m sure many of my friends and family members have done the same when they heard about my obsession with teaching young people how to deal with (or more importantly, without) money.

Today, when I’m talking to young people, one of the first things I tell them is that they need to define themselves or some adult would define them first.  I said it a couple weeks ago.  I’ve said it over the years.

When you are defining yourself, you also want to define for everybody, how much honor you have.  Young people particularly have an astonishing capacity for honor.  Personally, I think it stems from the fact that they haven’t yet learned to be duplicitous.  When I was young, I read comic books where the good guys where honest and honorable, and the bad guys were slick and dishonest.  I read legends about heroes.  My heroes were the guys who said what they meant and meant what they said.

One of my heroes has been a hero for decades.  Chuck Norris is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, an actor, a Martial Artist, and a man of honor.  Okay, I’ll admit it– I like the guy because he knows how to kick serious ###.  I dig the “chuckisms” that can be found around the nets.  But the man helped define honor for a generation, and that can’t be denied.

I don’t know if there is a hero out there today who youth look up to the way my generation looked up to Chuck (even when he did that TV show that got way preachy).  When I am in classrooms, I sometimes ask students who their heroes are, and I get a lot of different answers, some of them are great heroes, and others scare the crap out of me.

What does this have to do with finance?  Believe it or not, a lot!  When you are looking for a job, so are hundreds or even thousands of other people.  Many will be applying for the same places you will.  Be honorable.

  • Avoid “padding” your resume.  First, we know you’re lying.  If we don’t, we’ll figure it out and you will lose your jobs.
  • Once you get a job, resist the temptation to be dishonorable.  Avoid the following:
    • Stealing
    • lying at work
    • bad-mouthing your company to the customers
  • Simply put, if you take a job, do your best to do well at it.

How about with money?

  • Some people believe it is okay to “fudge” on your taxes.  Fudging is lying about how much money you made or how much you donated.  Lying is lying.  When you do it, you make yourself look like one of the bad guys.
  • We all get under-charged accidentally once in a while.  Do the right thing and point out the error.  Conversely, point out any times you are over-charged as well.

Choose to act honorably, and people will see that you have honor.  People will then trust you and you will be more successful.

Surround yourself with honorable people, and choose heroes that are worthy of looking up to.

So, back to my blogger friend.  The short answer is because I want to be honorable and do what I say I will do.  But there is more to it.  In my next post, I’m going to go over the other reasons that F4Y is important to me.  I’ll explore why I bother, even though I’m not the biggest or even the best.  I’ll explain why I get angry that there aren’t more people on-board with trying to teach youth about finance.

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