Personal Finance Education: What’s Wrong with this Picture?
My local paper ran a lifestyle piece yesterday titled “Use Santa to Teach Lesson on Money.” The writer of the article quoted Susan Beacham, the founder of MoneySavvyGeneration.com. I had never heard of this web-based organization, but being a big proponent of personal finance education, I thought I would take a look to see what it was all about. I didn’t like what I found.
The “CardGuard” is supposed to be a “sleek card carrier” so that your child can “leave that bulky wallet behind.” Of course- why carry a wallet when all you really need are your “cards?” After all, cash is for nerds, geeks, and other outcasts from the “cool and savvy” teendom.
Take a close look at the photo. You don’t see a student ID or even a debit card, even though these are talked about in the promotional text. Instead, what you see are images of a Chase Visa card and an American Express Business Platinum card! Yes, the “money savvy” 12-16 year old must learn to leave the cash at home and venture out with brand-name credit cards. For only $7.50, the CardGuard can make that possible! Plus, the CardGuard comes in different colors but the plastic is clear, making it easy for you to flash your credit card bling to all of your friends. How cool is that?
By now I am accustomed to brand placement advertising in movies and TV shows, but come on folks. Do we really want to be promoting Amex Business Platinum and Chase Visa services and products to kids that can’t even drive? I don’t. How about we hold off on the credit card promotion until these kids have a full time job and the maturity that goes with it? No- I am not nitpicking. There are plenty of subliminal messages out there promoting bad money habits. We don’t need another explicit one specifically directed at 12-16 year-olds.
Here is the problem. The consumer credit mindset has become so deeply ingrained in our culture that it is almost impossible to escape it. We are like horror flick zombies who, once infected by the credit-driven consumption bug, are mindlessly but obsessively passing it on to others who come close to us, including the so-called “Money Savvy Generation.”
Can we please – once and for all – turn to a new page in educating our youth about money? Can that page not feature credit cards as part of a product-pitch?
i have to concede that that owners of MoneySavvyGeneration.com are plenty savvy. They are in the business of selling stuff, including goofy credit card holders for kids. I would not be surprised if they are also being compensated for showing credit cards in their ads. Why not? It’s all about making a buck or two isn’t it.
I suppose it’s possible I could have these MSG folks all wrong and that they really are all about properly educating youth in matters of personal finance. The MSG website is full of claims of industry recognition for its founder. If so, get the stupid credit cards out of the photo! Put an ID card or even a debit card in there. How hard could that be?