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Yesterday I read this article about how the author’s financial life changed when she got an accountant and about how parents don’t teach their daughters about how to manage their finances and how that needs to change. As I read this article I became somewhat infuriated. The author is talking about how our parents aren’t teaching us girls about finances and how we all need an accountant to truly understand our money.

I figured this would be like any other Thought Catalog article where the commentators complained about the author’s opinion. But what surprised me was everyone agreeing with her. There were many comments talking about how important it is to teach our daughters about money and how bad it is we don’t.

Let me start by saying one thing: yes, parents should teach their children about finances. That’s a given. It would great if all 18 year-olds left home and understood bank accounts, mortgages, loans, and 401ks.

I don’t really get this insistence that the issue is only with daughters. Frankly, most of the men and women my age have no idea how to handle money and were never taught how to do so by their parents. Those few people who do have some idea about money: disproportionately female. I’m not saying that women are better than men at dealing with money issues; I’m just saying that it seems like neither gender in my peer group generally knows much about money.

My second issue is the idea that it’s somehow our parents fault. Yes, when we’re little we can’t decide what we learn and don’t, but at age 7 learning about how to pay your taxes isn’t going to stick. As a teenager I managed what little money I had pretty much by myself. I choose to do this because I wanted to learn and understand more about money while I was still living at home and dealing with small amounts of money. My mom let me choose my bank accounts, I had my own debit card, and I understood the tax implications of certain accounts. Why? Because I asked. I wanted to learn and be able to support myself properly when I left for college.

After college, in my first year not being a dependent on my mother’s taxes I had to do my own. By myself. No help, and certainly no accountant. My mom couldn’t even help because she was in a different country and filed taxes differently. I asked friends for advice, half of them didn’t even realize they paid taxes. I asked co-workers for advice, they didn’t really understand most of what was going on because they had accountants who did it all for them. I was the one who realized that we (at work) were going to have to pay excess taxes to the state. I had to explain this to my boss, who then had to go tell his accountant. I went through everything I could to get the best possible tax refund that I could.
I am sure I may have missed out on something. But now I understand where I’m being taxed. I understand what tax deductible really means and why it doesn’t really apply to me yet. I know what credits apply and what don’t, and I make future financial decisions based on the tax implications. These are all things that I could not do myself if I had run out and paid an accountant to do it all for me.

I am sure that at some point in the future I will get an accountant. I really wish I’d had someone to double check everything I was doing these past few years. But when I do get an accountant I will be able to know for myself that they are getting the best for me based on my situation. I will know what information to bring them and why.

This issue with money isn’t about gender. We are all far too ignorant about our own spending and our own financial issues.
This isn’t about our parents not teaching us right. This is about us deciding to educate ourselves, and choosing to ask those we respect to teach us what they know.
And this isn’t about paying someone else to do the hard stuff for you. Of course finding an accountant can help with your taxes, but that’s not the end. Educate yourself. Be able to do it yourself if you wanted to.

Let’s stop blaming sexism or our parents for something that we don’t know. Okay, so maybe we don’t know enough about money. It’s hard for a parent to really teach any child this sort of stuff (how many teenagers are willing to sit down and actually listen to their parents teach them about money?).

Being financially literate is our own responsibility, nobody else’s.

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