For the kids of my generation, investing in our futures was as straightforward as a passbook savings account and slotting money from summer jobs into a piggy bank. Seeing our balances grow was satisfying and served us to a point. Young people today, however, need and deserve a much more in-depth entrée into finance and how it works. Some would suggest that now is the wrong time to introduce kids to the ups and downs of the stock market. I contend just the opposite.

It’s easy for adults to accept that teenagers know nothing at this stage of their financial lives. Of course, kids don’t have the life experiences adults have, but they are acutely aware of what’s happening around them and want the opportunity to live the good life. We have the ability and responsibility to help them learn from the past and change the dynamic regarding financial education. Let’s grab the bull by the horns before the opportunity passes us.

Teens need to be guided through making sound short-term and long-term decisions to navigate financially challenging times. The earlier young people develop and follow a strategy to achieve their retirement dreams, the more confident they will be in their success. 

Thankfully, I’m not the only one with this viewpoint. One of the most forward-thinking groups is Junior Achievement, which regularly conducts research among U.S. teens to understand their opinions and provides programs that help them lead financially secure lives.

One piece of research co-sponsored with Junior Achievement revealed that 94 percent of teens say they know some or not much about the stock market and believe the stock market is a somewhat risky way to make money quickly versus being a good long-term investment.

How can parents help? During road trips or even just sitting around the kitchen table, asking kids about brands, companies and individuals they see as successful and having them explain why can help link strategy to success. Invite kids to join conversations with brokers, accountants and financial planners to see how the stock market is still a good strategy for portfolio growth over time. Use current news topics like COVID and inflation to help teens understand that they can overcome the inflection points they will encounter in their own lives with sound planning, saving and investing. 

Encourage them to participate in programs like JA Take Stock in Your Future, which introduces students to the stock market and puts their knowledge into practice via classroom curriculum and a competition event. Other JA programs teach kids about buying a car, starting and operating a business, creative problem-solving, selecting a career, and paying for college, among other vital topics.

Finance and business may seem complex and foreign. Parents should work with their kids in early high school to talk with them about the stock market and business. They need to know these things are not rocket science. And parents want them to be confident they can figure it out if they have a passion for it.

Teenagers need to understand how to cope with increasing education costs and complexities, stock market volatility, inflation, and residual pandemic effects. This is not to mention non-fungible tokens, cryptocurrency, and other contemporary technologies and investment opportunities that will affect their futures. 

For most kids — and many adults — investing is more mystery than clarity. You can raise a successful budding entrepreneur … from the piggy bank to the shark tank with some time and effort.

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