Overcoming The Financial Literacy Deficit
Author Advocates Reaching Teens and Young Adults — Even When Parents Haven't Done So Successfully
ATLANTA, Ga — While parents seem focused on surviving financially difficult times, they may be overlooking a pending crisis with the younger generation.
Educator, financial researcher, and author J. Steve Miller of the new book Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest it, and Give It proposes a new approach to personal finance for youth and addresses with audiences the statistics below, including how to help young adults make sound financial decisions:
Source: Financial Literacy Foundation
- Teens spend ninety-eight percent (98%) of what they earn.
- The average student borrower graduates with $27,600 of debt, almost three and a half times what it was a decade ago.
- Over 70 percent of undergraduates use credit cards to buy school supplies, food and textbooks. Twenty-four percent use their credit cards for tuition.
- Ninety-six percent (96%) of graduate students carry an average of six credit cards.
- The average student credit card balance is $2,347.
In a July 31, 2009 BusinessWeek article, Shalini Ramachandran looked at financial literacy for college students. She noted that the average Iowa State student graduates with $30,000 in debt — the highest level in the U.S.
Call for Mandatory Financial Education
Roberta Johnson, director of the financial aid office at Iowa State, says students are "extraordinarily stressed" carrying these debts, impacting their ability to buy a home, even in five years. She believes mandatory financial education is needed to ensure the monetary health of future generations.
The president of the Government of the Student Body at Iowa State has created a mandatory one-credit course on personal finance saying, "Do I think a one-credit online course will change our state? No. But I figure if five or six students know the difference between a fixed or variable loan, then we've done some good."
Likewise, Miller hopes to help decrease the financial literary deficit through his new book and his own work in the educational system. Miller, who has appeared on MSNBC.com and Atlanta CBS and Fox affiliates, says "I believe that personal finance is more about people than spreadsheets. When young adults hear stories of real people, like Warren Buffett, Joe Gibbs, and even Led Zeppelin, they catch a vision for saving, investing and enjoying their money while living debt-free."
About Enjoy Your Money!
Enjoy Your Money! is a fictional story about four high school seniors who discover, while in detention, that they have a chance to turn around their lives which have been affected by their parents' poor financial decisions. An eccentric but wise teacher/mentor to the group discusses all aspects of money management, including easy-to-understand financial lessons in the sidebars of the book to appeal to teens and young adults. Miller believes that young adults need to make their own decisions not based on their parents' mistakes or lack of communication regarding money.
Financial specialists appreciate the serious research and documentation of Enjoy Your Money! while the story allows the reader to learn without pouring over dozens of financial books.
As a film producer said, "This is the financial book for people who hate financial books." Dr. Dwight "Ike" Reighard, former Executive Vice President of HomeBanc said, "Had I read this book in my 20's, I'd be financially independent today. It's a remarkable blend of fabulous research with clear and lively writing. You'd pay an expert quite a sum for this caliber of counsel. That's why I say that the best investment you make this year just might be this book. Your second best investment will be the copies you buy for your children."
When asked about whether they are a good model for their children regarding saving and spending, fewer than half of the adult respondents felt they were. (Source: MyCashCounts.org, Financial Literacy Statistics, Losing the Ghost of Credit Past, 2007)
Miller's book gives parents a way to discuss finances with youth in a nonthreatening way but also allows young adults to learn on their own without feeling like they're reading their parents' financial book. Suggested discussions follow each chapter for group or family use.
Miller hopes his book will help other young adults like it's helped his own sons. He shares, "My first wife died of cancer, leaving me with four young boys to raise. When I remarried, I added three more boys and they all range in age from 15 to 28 years old. I don't want them to live their lives experiencing the misery of financial bondage.
This book sums up what we're trying to teach them about finding financial freedom. As an educator, I'm deeply concerned about the future of our young people making financial decisions that affect their current state of life and their future. I want to give young adults the information I wish I had at their age to help them avoid some of the mistakes that are common even among adults today and equip them to get ahead, even during the current economic crisis."
For more information, visit Wisdom Creek Press.
About the Author
J. Steve Miller is the founder and president of Legacy Educational Resources, a nonprofit organization that provides web-based character and life skills teaching tools for educators in every state and over 30 countries. Miller has appeared in numerous radio, television and print media, including Fox News Atlanta, CBS Atlanta, the Oakland Tribune, and others.
Miller has published books, developed extensive curriculum, written numerous articles, and established an illustration database for speakers. He has also served as a character education mentor for the award-winning Kennesaw Mountain High School. Miller is a frequent speaker and has presented at conferences from Atlanta to Moscow. Find out more about J. Steve Miller.