7. July 2011 06:22
Recently, I read a blog post about a recent survey that found young adults were not bothered by their level of debt. Even more disturbing is that some even saw it as a good thing. These young adults believe that having debt is a normal part of being an adult. After all, their parents were carrying large loads of debt, so it seems like normal adult behavior. This serves as a reminder of how we have come to normalize large amounts of debt. Some debt is considered “good” debt, such as student loans, but we still need to ask the questions: How much debt is too much? What is the real pay off? We may have missed the opportunity to influence how these young adults perceive debt, but we can still catch the younger generations and reverse the perception that a high debt load is a rite of passage for becoming an adult.
Parents, educators and adults in general need to take a moment to reflect on how each of us can start to change this perception. The good news is there are many resources to assist parents in changing this perception. A few places to find resources are the AICPA’s key financial lessons for different ages, Washington DFI and Jump$tart clearinghouses and websites such as Practical Money Skills that offer games to make learning fun. For younger children, check out Sesame Street’s materials and videos for parents to teach kids about savings. Moonjar and Money Savvy Pig are great versions of piggy banks that also teach children to act responsibly with money. Regardless of the tools you choose, starting this conversation with young children will help the next generation grow up with a different view of debt.