Greenville, SC ,
02:00 AM

Finance: It’s a Family Affair

Do the kids have homework? What’s our plan for the weekend? Did you work out the issue with your co-worker? These are likely topics for your family conversations.

How are our family finances? Did we stay within budget? If you are like most Americans, conversations about these important money matters probably don’t come up. What if they did?

While most individuals believe we should talk about money, most don’t. According to the American Psychological Association, 95 percent of people believe parents should talk to their kids about money. However, only about two-thirds say they were taught how to manage money, and just one-third report talking with their family about the subject.

Working Together: Organizations and Families Work as a Team

In the foothills of South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, two organizations are empowering parents and children to have those money conversations. Families are tackling their finances together and benefitting. The result is reducing inter-generational poverty.

The Greenville County Human Relations Commission (GCHRC) found many adults were unable to complete their financial education workshops due to lack of childcare. The Children’s Museum of the Upstate was presenting a children’s program on basic financial literacy. They teamed up to create the “Finances for the Family” program for a win-win.

The six-session program educates parents and children at the same time. Each organization uses their expertise to address different financial situations.

Take the budgeting session for example. While parents work with financial counselors to set a household budget, their children “shop” in the museum grocery store staying within an assigned budget. The families then come back together for more activities to reinforce the lesson and promote positive conversations about money.

“It is empowering to myself, as well as my children. Because of the program, my kids are now saving for two reasons: their future and their own personal goals. I could go on non-stop for days about the wonders of this class and how beneficial it is to my family. But, instead, I will just say this: Thank You for the time you took to give my family hope for our financial future”

- Finances for the Family participant, and Mother of 3 children

Visible Success Spawns Future Interest

State Farm has supported the pilot since it began in the fall of 2014. Since then, 41 families have graduated from the program. Interest in upcoming classes has doubled.

Graduation from the program is just the beginning. Families can then access more financial counseling that supports their long-term financial goals. To help them start, each family receives a $50 certificate for initial deposit into their choice of either a 529 college savings account or an Individual Development Account; a $40 deposit into a custodial savings account for each child in the family; and an annual pass to the Children’s Museum. Each child receives a $5 bill as a graduation gift and is encouraged to practice their new money management skills.

Individual follow-ups with the families show parents and children thriving with their newly acquired financial management skills and knowledge.

“We’re no longer classified as a paycheck to paycheck family. Now there’s a peace about it,” said Jennifer Byrd. “It’s exciting to know my money is where it’s supposed to be. It’s going to keep us where we need to be. And, if ‘life happens’ we have a little bit of a bounce-back.”

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