July 30, 2013

Teaching Kids the Five Tenets of Financial Responsibility

While attending a financial education forum, well-known media commentator and former stand-up comedian Sabrina Lamb wondered how different her life would have been if she’d received financial education as a child—something she believes is still lacking sorely today, particularly in lower-income communities.

Lamb—who is the recipient of the BDPA Small Business Innovator Award, the Rainbow Push/Wall Street Project Honors and the New York State Z-Hope Award, among others—believes that children would benefit immensely from financial education at a young age, so she set up New York-based World of Money in 2005 to provide the same access for children that many adults never had.

The non-profit organization’s mission is to empower youth with a sound financial foundation by equipping them with the five tenets of a financially responsible and philanthropic life: learn, earn, save, invest and donate.

Lamb answered a few questions about worldofmoney.org and her own views on the importance of financial education for youth.

Q: Your homepage states that “now more than ever this organization is needed to break a generational cycle and to change the way youth view money.” Can you explain this in a bit more detail?

A: In order to break the generational cycle of how individuals may manage money, youth and their parents need to examine their beliefs and behaviors while harnessing one of the most powerful entities on the planet—money. Our work hopes to move youth behaviors from shifting hoarding and greed to producing, investing and donating to create value in the world.

Q: Many articles about minorities and financial planning underscore the great need to begin financial education very early on in a person's life, at middle school or even earlier, but they also highlight the fact that there's a serious lack of programs that teach financial responsibility/planning.

A: There is a widespread need to include financial education but there lacks the political will to provide access in a holistic, meaningful way beyond courses here and there. There needs to be a robust immersion in the subject in order to play generational catch-up so that millions of children can have the same instruction that well-resourced children have experienced for generations.

Q: President Obama just delivered a speech on the great need that exists to invest in our youth, particularly in African-American males. How do you see financial education as being a part of this process? Where can we improve with respect to financial education for minorities and, ultimately, how can proper financial education and better understanding of the importance of financial planning also help the community and prove a worthwhile investment in our young people?

A: Every adult needs to realize that they can do something to empower a young person. It is our duty to do so. Rather than look to political officials or school systems, I rather focus on what I can do to empower the next generation so that they have access to the language within the world of money, and that they know that the answer lies within. Each adult and child in the community needs to embrace the idea that they are worthy of financial security and learn how to transfer their tremendous spending power to their descendants.

Q: Your programs include Mandarin courses and a visit to China. Why?

A: Next month, 89 members of our community will tour China and have taken basic Mandarin, as international billionaires have shared that China is a dominant economic power; when it comes to people of African descent, China has heavily invested in countries throughout Africa and the Caribbean. So it makes sense to explore their culture and connect with over two billion Chinese people.

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