Helping young people to understand “the financial rules of the road”


Many years ago while attending South Shore High School in Chicago, I learned about Junior Achievement and joined. After graduation, I attended NAJAC (the national conference) and then served as a counselor for the next six summers. JA played a major role in my youth and remains an organization of special value to my personal growth and professional development.

Briefly, Junior Achievement was founded in 1919 by Theodore Vail, president of American Telephone & Telegraph; Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co.; and Senator Murray Crane of Massachusetts. Its first program, JA Company Program®, was offered to high school students on an after-school basis. Today, JA reaches 4.8 million students per year in 109 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.2 million students served by operations in 100 other countries worldwide.

Recently I had a telephone conversation with Ed Grocholski, a senior vice president at JA’s headquarters in Colorado Springs, who provided an update. I was especially interested to know about JA’s even greater commitment to help young people gain a better understanding of basic economics.

Here’s an excellent case in point: Junior Achievement and American Honda Finance Corporation share resources and new research on what teens know – or don’t know – about the financial rules of the road.

Nearly one-in-four teens (24%) expects a vehicle or help paying for a vehicle for high school graduation, according to research conducted for Junior Achievement (JA) and American Honda Finance Corporation (AHFC), which included separate surveys of teens and their parents. At the same time, 61 percent of parents expect their teen to complain about the financial upkeep of a car within 30 days of getting their vehicle.

While 76 percent of teens ages 15-17 are confident they fully understand the financial responsibilities of owning a car, 85 percent of parents with 15-17-year-old teenagers disagree. This discord may lie in the fact that 86 percent of teens feel that parents should help them with automobile expenses such as insurance, repairs, and gas, while 91 percent of parents believe assistance is unreasonable.

Long ago, Ann Landers observed, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” That is especially true of economic education. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, and/or nephews who need to know “the financial rules of the road,” I urge you to check out the wealth of resources at the JA website by clicking here.

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