As some of you may know but others may not, One Wealth Advisors has a high school intern! Her name is Nathalee and she is just about to graduate from ICA Cristo Rey Academy, an all-girls college preparatory school in the Mission in San Francisco. Every student at ICA must intern each school year, and we have had the pleasure of getting to know and work with Nathalee for both her junior and senior year.
As we celebrated her last day in the office this past week, I have been reflecting on the precious and precarious moment in which one turns 18 and launches into adulthood. Once leaving home, there are suddenly so many pieces of a new life to navigate – living with another human in a single room college dorm, figuring out who we are beyond the comfortable yet perhaps restrictive walls of our hometown, and learning how to make (and live with) our decisions. For those of us who are lucky, we have a system of support that lets us leap and catches us if we fall.
Most adulting skills we acquire through stumbling along, making mistakes, and Google. I cannot help but notice that financial literacy is an adulting life skill rarely taught in the classroom. Who teaches us the concept of compound interest and the importance of starting to save for retirement as early as possible? Who teaches us that only paying the monthly credit card minimum does not equal free money on the rest of your balance? Who teaches us the difference between a stock and bond? Who teaches us why we should care?
Although I hope Nathalee was able to gain exposure and some basic skills of personal finance through her internship, there is still a gap in the education system that fails to grant this information to everyone. Because the knowledge is not gained inside the classroom, those such as myself (with a father who is an economics professor), rely on family, and are privileged when there is intergenerational knowledge passed down.
I am not quite sure how we address the systemic barriers to financial literacy for everyone. However, I made Nathalee promise us that as soon as she gets her first 401K, she better start contributing and come talk to One Wealth Advisors about her options.