Crashed Cars, Financial Literacy & Birth Order

My younger daughter has many adorable attributes and there is no one who embodies the expected charm and lovable qualities inherent in a little sister more. She is warm, loving and asks for help if she needs it. She is adored by many.

Recently, we’ve been reviewing our car insurance. My older daughter got in a few car accidents early on in her driving career. These are brought up often and never forgotten. Little sister got in the same number of accidents, but these are swept under the rug and never mentioned. In a similar fashion my older daughter had strict curfews. Even as a high school senior she was expected home by midnight. Little sister, on the other hand, was hard to find, and routinely fell off the grid sleeping at her best friend’s house with her phone unplugged. Luckily I had the mother of the best friend on auto dial, but still.

Both girls are home from college for the holidays. Enough time has now passed that we can laugh about the high school days. We sat together last night and had a toast to the past year.

Since we had our family meeting at Thanksgiving and the girls asked to be educated in financial literacy, crashed cars and insurance are a topic of interest as opposed to a point of contention. They are more astute on the pertinent topics of student loans and compounded interest. We discuss credit cards and how to manage them to build credit prior to graduating.

I put together a spreadsheet of my own personal assets and liabilities and sent it to them. It’s important to me that they understand how to do this and to keep a watchful eye on how they manage their money and credit. When I married at 31 I had zero debt. I owned my car free and clear, my two credit cards were paid off monthly, and I had contributed 10% to my company matched 401K for the previous five years. My credit was sterling.

Recently, I worked with a woman who told me she would likely have no children because of the student loans and other debt incurred by both herself and her new husband in the past. She told me they could never afford it, but most importantly she said that they had not been taught how to manage their money properly.

When I was in high school my favorite class was a mandatory personal finance class where we learned to buy stocks. In college I loved economics, and in London studied Thatcheromics. This covered Thatcher and her economic polices that balanced the budget of England after years of debt. So, this topic is close to my heart, and I’m happy my little ones are interested.

I’m thankful to my older daughter for being such a good role model for her little sister. Apart from the car accidents, and other antics she is on academic scholarship, participates in student government, model UN, and has worked on campus all through college. Her little sister has some very big shoes to fill. The good news is that she will likely fill them, and then some.

By the way, the best way to use a credit card is not to use it.

Love and blessings to all.

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