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By Alexis Taylor,
Special to the AFRO

While the pandemic has significantly disrupted math and reading classes across the country for two years, millions of students have also missed out on college, career and financial literacy classes often provided in school settings.

According to the Council for Economic Education’s biennial report Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools, only “21 states now require high school students to take a course in personal finance, a net increase of four states, with five adding requirements since the last survey in 2018 and one state dropping its requirement.” 

Only “25 states require high school students to take a course in economics, an increase of three states since 2018.” Five states and the District of Columbia did not include personal finance in their standards of education for students. 

The implications are endless.

According to the Pew Center for Research, after controlling for factors such as race, gender, education and homeownership status, the “odds of payday loan usage” are “105 percent higher for African Americans than for other races/ethnicities.”

Researchers from Columbia Law school, Yale Law School and the Imperial College Business School also note that African Americans file for and unsuccessfully complete Chapter 13 bankruptcy more than any other race.

Recently the AFRO sat down with Khadija Steward, founder and director of DIJAH’s Diverse Training Services to discuss how parents can foster healthy financial practices and entrepreneurship in their homes. 

AFRO: At what age should financial literacy and college/career development begin?

Steward: I’m a firm believer that as soon as a child is able to talk and express themselves, financial literacy, career development and an education should start becoming a part of a conversation. It has to. In the teenage years you’re too late. 

AFRO: What are some things that parents can do in the home to teach financial literacy to young children and pre-teens? 

Steward: Everyone has to have a budget; that’s just smart finances. We need to teach our children that whether you’re a millionaire or billionaire you still should be budgeting. 

Teaching financial understanding and financial awareness as part of basic life skills at an early age becomes a part of their financial process as they get older.

When your child is given money by friends and family members, and says ‘Mommy, Auntie gave me $20,’ you should say ‘Okay, baby, give me $10. It’s going into your savings account’ and you don’t allow any more discussion.

Another thing is have them make note of the usage of the supplies in the house. You may have them keep track of just the dairy products or maybe they’re keeping track of when the pasta runs out.

The old school list on the refrigerator works. Make sure that the list is visible to the family, so that everyone understands what it costs to maintain the family. 

I’m a mom of eight. My children were the ones that would inform me when we had to purchase certain items. And when we went to the store, they would see the cost of the item because they were a part of the process. At an early age they saw the usage of things and they saw the cost of replacing those things.

AFRO: Can you give tips on how parents can use their child’s natural abilities and interests to teach sound financial or business practice?? 

I was always taught, you know, if you have a skill, use it. 

My son is effective at drawing people. So my kids ran an ices stand. They sold pretzels and Italian ices. He was the one out there waving, yelling “Get your treats, get your treats!” and they had major sales. Then he began negotiating with his siblings. He would not do things unless they were willing to give him something in exchange. Obviously as a mom, I had to tailor that with some things, but he understood the concept of negotiation at a very early age.

AFRO: ​​Do you think that the Black and Brown communities need to be more knowledgeable about the investment side of money? 

Steward: It is a must. I see the conversation happening more and more. 

I talked about Robinhood with my children and I explained to them how mommy invested about $60 during the height of the pandemic with some of my stimulus money. I said, ‘now mommy has $301’ and their mouths dropped.

There’s something called The Stock Market Game. Any family can get involved; any school, any child. It’s a national competition, but you also learn about the stock market and it’s all virtual. 

I encourage Black and Brown families to Google “The Stock Market Game and it will give them the direct information. 

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Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer