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Monday, September 14, 2009

Kids and Money

As you have probably read, I teach high school, and last week I had cafeteria duty. Generally, this involves telling grade 9's to pick up their garbage and to push in their chairs and such, but I started looking at the lines and doing some calculations.

There was a lineup of at least 200 students at the beginning of lunch going to the cafeteria, assuming that they spend $5 there (pretty reasonable considering the food there), that is $1000 per day that the cafeteria earns (or the students waste). On top of this, there is a 25 cent fee for using Interact at the cafeteria.

This pains me when I think of the future of our economy. Teenagers have more disposable income than anyone (if you don't believe me check out the number of hats, cell phones and ipods that the vice-principal confiscates and then aren't even collected at the end of the year). Perhaps some thought should be to teaching them about savings.

Theoretically, what's wrong with getting your kids to save 10-20% for their retirement already (no matter what their age). You don't have to tell them that, just tell them its a savings account, and then when they are 18 years old, roll it over to an RRSP. In this way, they will have some RRSPs started for themselves when they get started (and even potentially for their First Time Home Buyers credit if it is still there in the future), and they get a big tax break for their first income tax that they pay.

In all my math classes, I try to give these sorts of ideas to the kids, of the power of savings, and that they can save $40 per week at their age to be a millionaire, when I have to save $100 per week for it to happen at my age. Some are wowed by the numbers, but I hope that these ideas stick with at least one from each class. I also talk about credit cards, mortgages, buying your first car, how much university will cost, and how much it costs when you finally move out on your own. These are things that I enjoy discussing with the class from time to time, but ultimately these are lessons that if they aren't shown at home, you have to experience for yourself before you really understand.

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