By Will J. Wright, theGrio
The red flags are waving, but it is not too late, if action is taken now, to teach financial literacy to our youth!
TheGrio has been active in posting stories about how the wealth of black Americans represents nickels on the dollar compared to other ethnic groups.
Now comes a report that American teens achieve mediocrity when it comes to financial literacy in the world.
One can only imagine how that bodes for many young black people who are challenged by substandard education in general.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ,as part of its Program for International Student Assessment, surveyed 15-year-old students in 13 member nations and five other nations throughout 2012 to see if young people were ready to handle their personal finances as they matured to adulthood.
At 15, most youngsters are pretty accomplished consumers, but in the US, with the most robust economy in the world, our kids don’t appear to have the same appetite to save and conserve money.
Jim Penniston, Executive Director of the Foundation for Financial Planning in Atlanta, told the Wall Street Journal that he expects that nations scoring higher that the U.S. most likely placed more societal emphasis on saving money. And that is where the huge disconnect among kids in the United States might exist, especially in the black community.
Sabrina Lamb, CEO of WorldofMoney.org, is a specialist in youth financial literacy. She told theGrio that for millions of African-Americans, there is little cultural emphasis put on saving.
“This is the huge elephant in the room,” says Lamb. “To ignore creating a culture of financial literacy puts us at our own peril. We become targets for toxic financial products, victims of scams and generally have no financial safety nets to protect our families.”
With our young people being bombarded with product placements, braggadocios rap music, esteem issues linked to owning those high end sneakers or designer clothes, a lot of young people are programmed to spend money rather than save.
But Lamb says not handling money with the future in mind creates long term anxieties, depression and the temptation to rely on government programs that quickly go away.
Teri Williams, President and COO of One United Bank, says we cannot afford not to save. In a recent financial forum, sponsored by theGrio and WorldofMoney.Org, Williams said that too often people in the black community are focused on keeping up appearances.
Their spending habits mirror efforts to appear affluent. She stresses that it is important for our financial survival and independence to save.
“If you don’t have money, you can’t afford not to save!” Williams says, “Savings allow you to take risks, try out a new job, open a business and get to the next level.”