Many teens learn about financial matters from their parents. Some of them even encourage their children to watch their spending. A 2002 survey by the National Consumers League (NCL) found that 63 percent of kids get their information about money and credit from their parents. But what are they learning? Of course teens are eager to get their first credit card; in fact, a whopping 58 percent plan to get their first credit card prior to college graduation (i.e., before regular employment). But according to the NCL website, more than half of those teens may not understand how credit cards work.
Thanks to an unrestricted grant from Bank of America, NCL has launched a Teen and Financial Education program. The purpose, according to their press release, is to "help teens avoid common consumer pitfalls in money and credit matters." One of those "pitfalls," for example, is the misperception that businesses must go through a screening process to prove legitimacy before launching a website. Over half of the teens in the NCL survey assumed a screening process was in place.
Clearly, everyone needs to get savvy and stay savvy about consumer credit practices and policies. Technological innovations are rapidly changing the meaning of real money skills. One should not assume he/she knows all there is to know. Accessing information from the National Consumer League is a good start. They are a private, nonprofit membership organization and can be reached via their LifeSmarts program website at www.lifesmarts.org or at http://www.nclnet.org/personal-finance/.
After all, it pays to be educated.