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What Are We Teaching our 2005 Graduates about Money?

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Now that we are in the month of June I can't help but wonder if we have prepared our new graduates for the responsibility of managing and budgeting their money.

I had a very interesting conversation with my God-son, a recent graduate from a local Los Angeles high school. He assured me that he is ready to take on the responsibility of purchasing a used car because he was working par-time for a fast food restaurant. When I asked him how much money he had saved he quickly told me that he hasn't received his first paycheck yet, but would appreciate money as a graduation gift to purchase a vehicle.

We talked about the value of saving as well as more responsible things he could do with the money he was earning. I explained to him that having a job was a good step towards saving for a car. However, he was still lacking in responsibility for assuming everyone else would buy the car for him. I strongly agree with the lending belief of banks, "if you can't come to the table with some of your own money, I can't give you my money." So our conversation ended with an agreement that he would cover insurance and gas with his income and save at least 10% for college expenses and I would send him a cash gift towards the purchase of his vehicle as a graduation gift.

I do understand that now days getting a car as a graduation gift is much more common then when I graduated from high school. However, I would rather teach graduates the importance of being responsible with their money then fashionable with their peers. What are we teaching them by having the mandatory cell phones, computers, credit cards, digital cameras, dvd players, and mp3 players? I think the message is pretty clear, "consume more, save less and stay in debt."

Well, pretty soon he will be off to college where he will be bombarded with credit card applications, cell phone companies and many other vendors enticing him to get into debt. Hopefully he can learn how to be responsible with money before he earns his college degree. Otherwise my next gift will be for him to attend my debt management class. I don't think he would like that very much.

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Dina D. Harbour,
Financial Coach

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