Seven years ago, Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers was first published. Since then, I’ve gotten many email messages from readers who used the curriculum with their kids and were pleased with it.
Sadly, I’ve also been asked why I chose to include girls in my target audience for the book.
Now, I realize that many homeschoolers are even more conservative than I am, enough so that they plan to keep their daughters at home until and unless they marry. But to keep them in the dark about financial matters seems so misguided to me.
In the past, many women were uninformed about their finances. Men kept track of the money, and their wives kept track of the cooking and cleaning. But if their husbands died before they did (which is statistically more likely to happen), they often found themselves wondering if they were rich widows or poor widows, because they didn’t know. They had to rely on other male family members to help them find the paperwork needed for probate and figure out where they stood financially.
Unfortunately, marriages also break up, and women who are unaware of financial matters can find themselves left with children to support and no idea of how to prudently handle the income they now need to bring in. The pain of an unwanted divorce is thus compounded by the need to learn about money. It’s hard to learn something new when you’re emotionally distraught.
My grandmother raised four children as a single mom during the Great Depression, and the stories my dad told me about what she went through taught me that girls need to know about finances every bit as much as boys do.
Recently, I was reminded of that again when I read yet another article about people losing their homes because they weren’t knowledgeable about the mortgages they applied for when they bought them. The combination of ignorant consumers and greedy mortgage companies has resulted in some single moms losing thousands of dollars that they really can’t afford to lose.
In the stories quoted in the article, the women now losing their homes didn’t understand that buying a home without putting any money down is a warning sign that you’re going into a loan with some danger zones. They saw it as a lucky break, when it was anything but that. It usually means that you have an adjustable loan, and in the current climate, your house payment may continue to rise, even if the value of your house drops. You’re responsible for the amount of money borrowed to buy the house no matter what the house is now worth.
Even if her loan did not have an adjustable rate, one woman mentioned in the article seemed like a great candidate for a house because of her high income level. She also thought she was making a good purchase because she didn’t borrow as much as she was approved to borrow. Big mistake! Pneumonia and then a broken wrist made her miss work, and she was forced to spend what cash she had paying bills. But she ran out of money, and could no longer make her mortgage payments. She not only lost her house but ended up owing the bank $32,000.
These women were also apparently unaware of how stressful it can be to have a huge house payment when you’re the head of a single-income family. Had they been taught about financial freedom and the joy of being debt-free, they might have never become homeowners, but they wouldn’t have lost their homes, either. When you look at everything through the mindset of minimizing debt, you have more control over your financial situation, especially as the years go by and the good habits you’ve developed bear fruit.
Reading these women’s sad stories has reminded me yet again how important it is that we educate our girls as well as our boys about how to handle money and how to aim for financial freedom. Judging by what’s going on in our economy right now, this kind of education is more important than ever. We homeschooling parents have the time and the opportunity to do it right.