Monday, June 23, 2014

Are your children ready for the financial future they’ll face?

Earlier this month, there were several ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing in France.

I personally enjoyed the interviews with the WWII veterans who are now in their 90s. Former news anchor and author Tom Brokaw has referred to them as the greatest generation ever.

Every one of us owes them the respect they earned for their efforts in both Europe and the Pacific Rim. A common theme I kept hearing from the interviews of the D-Day veterans was the thorough training they received prior to the invasion.

But during the chaos of battle, things didn’t always go as planned. It was the quick thinking, leadership and heroics of those in the thick of the battle that turned potential failure into victory. Unfortunately, as time passes their story seems to be just another chapter in history books.

I bring this up because it’s easy to forget that these aging World War II veterans were in their late teens and early 20s when they saved and changed the world.

Fast-forward to today and it’s very apparent how significantly the nation has changed. From a financial perspective especially, it’s much different for someone in their late teens or early 20s.

Recently, there was an executive order regarding student loans. The modification this time impacted those who had loans prior to 2007. I won’t go into the details of the student loan program; it’s complex. But the new order caps the monthly repayment of loans based on the student’s current income.

Because it also calls for a maximum repayment of time period of 20 years, it’s mathematically possible that the entire balance will never be paid.

Healthcare is another constant in the news. By now everyone is aware that “children” can now stay on their parents’ healthcare policy till age 26. I know there are valid arguments why this is a good policy. But, speaking for myself, I would have been quite concerned if any of my sons expected me to pay for their health insurance when they were 26.

My point is that 70 years ago young adults saved the world, and today it appears we are reluctant to let them make adult decisions.

From a financial perspective, I believe we need to do a better job preparing our young people for their financial future.

For example, how many students are taught the mathematics of a loan? I think this would be a valuable tool for young adults as they are solicited for credit cards and contemplate loans for education, housing and transportation.

Yet, time and time again, people of all ages get buried in debt and have no idea how they got there. I am confident that better financial education could alleviate many such problems.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but 70 years ago it was the young adults who saved the world. Today many young adults are looking for work, living with their folks and trying to launch their careers.

Perhaps a better financial education will arm them with the knowledge they need to succeed in this complex and competitive world. With the right education and the opportunity, I’m confident that these young adults can change the world for the better. The future, after all, belongs to them.

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