Financial Literacy Should Start at the Ground Level

By Sarah Work
Not many people appreciate that, much like the Seven Wonders of the World, accounting is an ancient art.  In some circles, it is thought that a civilization thrived or diminished purely on the ability or inability of officials to manage resources like grain and gold.

Also, it is often overlooked that April is Financial Literacy Month.  Hold on, what is financial literacy?  According to the 2008 Annual Report to the President, financial literacy is “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.”

As in the ancient world, financial literacy is important today.  Civilizations and homes are kept in balance when financial understanding is strong.  The ancient pyramid has a foundation of stones and starts at the ground.  Financial literacy should also start at ground level, or at least close to the ground, with children.  Children already know the importance of money.  A two-year-old learns quickly the value of a dollar in the checkout line at the grocery store, whether they have the dollar in hand or not.

Older children can grasp the concepts of saving, tracking, and spending.  They can put into practice setting and achieving a financial goal.  When practiced regularly, all of these skills grow with the child and help them establish healthy financial habits for high school, college, and adult life.

Unfortunately, these skills are frequently overlooked.  Children grow into adults and fail to learn how to “manage financial resources effectively.”

Often, as accountants, we take our financial knowledge for granted.  What we really need to do is share this knowledge.  April is the perfect month to highlight Financial Literacy as it is typically the month when the whirlwinds of tax season and first quarter reporting deadlines fall neatly together.  Unwind from the storm and reflect with your children (young and old), your grandchildren, neighbors, and church members on how they might be able to build or strengthen their own personal financial well-being.  If you are not sure where to start, contact the NCACPA for materials, presentations, and assistance.  Also, consider joining your chapter Financial Literacy Committee and help organize and plan FinLit opportunities in your community.

Modern civilization has grown exponentially in the last two centuries.  We need to shore up our foundation and bring the art of accounting into focus, so that we may continue to thrive.

sarah work headshotSarah Work, CPA, is the mother of three and a Charlotte-area transplant from Ohio. Upon moving to the area in 2006, she began working at Farris, Cooke & Associates and has been there ever since. As the Financial Literacy Chair for the Charlotte Chapter, she worked closely with the Ohio Society of CPAs to bring FETCH! to North Carolina