As physicians, we have been taught to value education. And many of us have pursued academic excellence starting from a young age. However, one aspect of education we are not taught traditionally in school: financial education. Personally, it was not until I was in my mid to late 30s that I began my journey of understanding money management and the concept of making investments.
Financial literacy is essential, and while it’s important for adults to have this life skill, I believe it’s even more important for kids to learn these concepts early on. As a parent to young kids, I believe introducing good financial habits is critical and should start early. It is never too early to introduce basic financial concepts, and we have the unique responsibility to help our kids make smart financial decisions in the future.
Teaching children about money management from a young age provides them with the tools they need to build a strong financial foundation. They learn the importance of budgeting, saving, investing, and giving and develop healthy financial habits that will serve them in the long run.
We’re all familiar with the story of residents making pennies during training to suddenly making large attending salaries, then subsequently buying the fancy car and the big house, digging themselves into an even bigger hole of debt. Many physicians have not been taught how to manage their money, which is why many financial advisors flock toward graduating residents. I believe that introducing financial education to children early on can help prevent financial hardship and debt later in life because when one learns to manage their money wisely, they can make more informed decisions keeping the bigger picture in mind and earlier on. They are less likely to fall into debt and more likely to achieve financial stability.
Another benefit of children becoming financially literate is that it will help them develop a sense of responsibility and independence. As they learn to manage their money, they become more self-sufficient and confident in making sound financial decisions. Encouraging charitable giving as a child can also develop a sense of social responsibility.
Financial education can also promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As children learn to manage their finances, they face real-world problems and must develop creative solutions to overcome them. This type of problem-solving skill is essential not just in personal finance but also in many other aspects of life.
I wish I had been taught financial basics much earlier in life. I wish I had known to make investments much earlier, even in small amounts. While I can’t turn back time, I can ensure my children learn what I didn’t know early. Unfortunately, financial literacy is a vital life skill that is not stressed in the traditional education system. Thus, it is up to us as parents to introduce and teach financial basics to our kids. The benefits of financial literacy are numerous. I hope to help raise a generation of financially savvy children who will be empowered to make smarter decisions and secure a brighter future.
Michele Cho-Dorado is a pediatric gastroenterologist.