Cash Will Tear Us Apart Again

Money is a significant component in many facets of America’s family life. So why is financial education often treated as a individual venture?


A majority of today’s teens and young adults learn money management from their parents, but the experience varies by family and all too often, it’s the blind leading the blind. According to Kayla Allen and Victoria Kinchen of Southeastern Louisiana University, 65% of students surveyed say their parents were their financial teachers, yet 28% report saving no money monthly, 72% don’t check their credit score, and 75% haven’t designated a budget.

The results beg the question- are the financial sins of the fathers (and mothers) being passed on, or is the quality of the financial education most youths receive from their parents just a little lacking?

And it’s not just parent/child relationships where weak financial know-how can have lasting implications. As an MSNBC TODAY article advises, money troubles between couples is a leading cause for divorce.

So what’s the answer to these money related woes for families? “Be a team,” suggests David Bach, author of Finish Rich for Couples. Bach also advises setting up a specific time to talk about money issues together. Credit unions can facilitate these efforts by creating campaigns that target not just individual members but encourage their children, friends, and other family members to join in and learn together.

Florida Commerce Credit Union ($324M, Tallahassee, FL) started its weLiveFIT contest so families could tackle financial literacy education as a team and create a financial skill set they can then pass on to future generations.  

Contestants in last year’s competition increased their combined credit scores by 469 points, their savings by more than $72,000, and reduced their debt by nearly $45,000!


Oct. 13, 2010


  • Although the article has a good message, "Financial Literacy" programs will do little to curb America's appetite for spending and hence, financial difficulties. Through an organization I am part of, I have provided financial counseling to numerous adults when they have reached a bottom with their finances. What I have learned over the years is that education is not the problem, it is responsibility. Even after meeting with them on a weekly basis, and presenting a solid budget and financial plan, only about one in ten actually succeeded in turning their situation around. The fact was, most people did not want to change their behavior. Although education is important, spending less than you make is not complex, so most people already have sufficient financial education/literacy to avoid financial difficulties (aside from job loss, illness, etc., which are a separate matter). It doesn't mean we should not try to teach personal finance, but if we are misguided in thinking the issue is education, then we are attacking the wrong problem.
  • All true! Well stated. Let's put the cooperative to work in our members' financial picture and come full circle. Provide the tools WITH the training to make them effective. Turn ideas into goals and goals into implementation. Not an easy task, but haven't we learned since kindergarten that if something is worth doing, it's worth doing well?