Skeff Bisset | Director of Financial Professional Development, Wealth Continuum Group
Several months ago, a dear old college friend reached out to me and asked for a favor. What would a D2 women’s head basketball coach need from me? I was honored and thrilled with her response, “I want my girls to learn some of the basics when it comes to money and saving.” I was excited! It’s not often we get to talk with young adults and educate them on the topic of money. I considered it an opportunity, especially since in my experience, people often reached out much later in life and consequently experience missed opportunities. This talk was going to be different, the chance to experience the exponential curve!
These girls were blessed to have a coach taking time to truly mentor them beyond the court so I knew I needed to make it the kind of conversation that would influence future conversations. When the Zoom cameras connected, the coach’s office was scattered with a dozen freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. They were sitting on the floor, couch, chairs and desk, all ready to hear a topic other than basketball that their coach felt was important to learn more about. The conversation started as I explained the importance of saving early, demonstrating with a simple and basic calculation illustrating the impact it can make. While I thought for sure this would be compelling for them, not many were intrigued, in fact, I heard crickets.
I was nervous, I had to think fast and engage them. When asked how often they practiced basketball and if they trained during the off-season, it generated both enthusiastic and sheepish responses. Most did in fact train during the off-season and some even admitted they enjoyed training, perhaps because the coach was right there. Finally, one of the girls offered what I was waiting to hear. She stated that the off-season training “makes a difference during the season”. Exactly! The connection I was hoping for, their money habits were no different. Making sacrifices now will pay off in the long run. Now they were engaged and asking questions! “Should I get a credit card?” “How much should I save?” “Should I buy or rent a home right out of college?” “How do I save?” “How do I invest and how does it work?”
The girls were fantastic, engaging and genuine in their curiosity and need-to-know attitudes.
Equally as important, a coach who has a genuine interest in imparting basic life skills beyond the home and beyond the court. She provided an environment that encouraged the girls to have an unfamiliar conversation and hopefully motivated them to dig deeper and learn more about what their financial future will look like.
Culturally, we assume our kids will organically learn about money. False. We teach our children how to tie their shoes, how to shake hands and look people in the eyes, and how to have manners and be respectful. All these things we deem “essentials”. As adults we know money is essential, so why don’t we teach them when they're young? Some schools are just now starting to teach some rudimentary skills and habits, but it isn’t enough. Bottom line, we need to initiate and reinforce the conversation earlier, at home, and help them avoid the lost opportunities that can come with later planning!