Finance 101

A few of my Denver grandkids have had the opportunity to experience Ameritowne, a program originated by Colorado cable magnate Bill Daniels. The program works in conjunction with elementary schools and offers 4th, 5th, and 6th graders the opportunity to learn the complicated business of finance and investment. It is connected with Young Americans Bank, which teaches children and teenagers how to save and manage their money. I don’t really know much about the program, except that those grandkids who participated in the program loved it and left the experience feeling enthusiastic about the wonderful world of business and finance……

Kaiya recently participated in Ameritowne. She interviewed and was hired as a network news reporter. Who wouldn’t hire this professional looking young writer?

I could be the spoil-sport and tell them that the real world of finance isn’t nearly as simple as Ameritowne makes it seem; alas, they will likely learn that soon enough. But their experience got me to thinking about how I learned to manage my money.

I started working at my dad and mom’s bakery when I was 14 years old. Of course, I helped out at a far younger age, but at 14, I had a work schedule with specific hours. Even more important, I received a regular paycheck just like all of Dad’s other workers. The days of Mom pulling a few dollar bills out of the cash register and giving them to me to go buy my 45s or treat myself to an ice cream soda at Tooley’s Drug Store were over. I had my own money.

Almost immediately, Mom marched me down to the bank on the corner to open a savings account. I suspect I got a lecture on the importance of saving money all of the way down the block.

And I did, in fact, save my money. I’m not fibbing when I tell you that I have had — without a single break — a savings account since I was 14 years old. For whatever reason, that need to have money tucked away safely in a bank has stuck with me. Even now, when the interest I earn on my savings is quite literally mere pennies, if my savings account gets below a specific amount that I have set in my head, I am not comfortable until I have covered the difference.

I’ve never asked Bill his savings accounts experience. I know he has had his own savings account since we have been married. But I also know that he and I differ in one specific way when it comes to our finances. Bill is debt-averse. He will do whatever he can to pay off debt. It’s how and why we paid off our mortgage in nine years. Who does that? And I’m glad we did.

But we have had many conversations about whether or not we should use savings to pay off debts. He says yes; I say gulp.

He’s a product of his father, who refused to purchase a house until such time as he had the cash to buy it outright. I am a product of parent who walked me to the bank as soon as I had a cash-paying job so I could open a savings account.

We didn’t have Ameritowne to help us learn about business and finance. But we had our parents.

One thought on “Finance 101

  1. Funny how vivid those “teaching” moments from our parents can be. Especially Mom opening the cash register and giving me money!

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