In an ideal world, every chickadee leaves the nest at age 18 with a savings account and enough knowledge to pass a pop quiz about credit scores. But we all know that sometimes doesn’t happen.
Personal finance education is lacking in many school settings. At home, parents may not have the opportunity or confidence to teach their children about making smart money decisions. I was lucky in that my parents taught me a lot about money as a kid. They took me to the bank and explained what we were doing. When I got my first job as a high schooler, they took me to open an account. They paid the bills at the kitchen table where I worked on my homework the same time each week.
But despite their efforts, I managed to mess up.
My mother has an aversion to debit cards, and what I mean by that is not that she simply doesn’t prefer to use them. I mean she has never had one. So when I marched off to university with my first debit card tucked in my wallet, let me tell you what I quickly became an expert in: overdrawing my account.
My mum had taught me how to balance a checkbook, but I wasn’t balancing much of anything in my freshman year of college. She didn’t know to warn me about the risks of using a debit card, which did not come with a smaller ledger for writing each transaction. I learned on my own, and I definitely learned the hard way.
So here we sit, you and I. Maybe you’re someone whose own personal finance education was lacking, someone who has had to figure things out for yourself. Someone who has surely figured out some of those things the hardest way possible. Someone who perhaps has paid nearly as much in overdraft protection fees as I did in my early 20s.
What bad financial habits did you pick up from your parents as a kid? What lessons didn’t you learn at home in time to prevent money problems? What bad habits are you still working to overcome as an adult?
Tell us in the comments. And if you’ve learned to overcome those bad habits you learned when you were young, how did you do it?