Financial Literacy: One of Life’s Most Important Skills

Being financially literate is not as simple as it sounds, nor is it a basic understanding. Financial literacy is wrapped around everything you do with money: earning, spending and budgeting, saving and investing, credit and debt. This is one of the many reasons why I am passionate about our youth and their ability to have a good relationship with money. It’s exactly why, as the Vice President of People and Culture at Volvo Financial Services (VFS), I volunteer with Junior Achievement of the Triad.
Financial Literacy: One of Life’s Most Important Skills

Coming from a financially focused company, it’s important to me to share my knowledge with children starting as early as possible. Junior Achievement partners with schools to offer curriculums in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. As a JA volunteer and board member, I go into those schools to educate youth in grades K-12 about one or more pathways. They’re all related and necessary for a child to be financially literate in this world. And VFS very much supports employees to do this type of volunteerism. We see it as our civic responsibility to give back around the area of financial education.  

Being a Financially Responsible Adult Starts at Home as a Child. 

Children tend to model their financial lives after what they see at home. And so many people do not have a healthy relationship with money. They get a job, get a paycheck, then think, “What can I spend this on?” Children see that and grow up with skewed beliefs about money. So, it's crucial that children have a basic understanding of finances early. They need to know how money works before they can spend it. 

I encounter too many adults who have learned the value of money too late. They end up drowning in a sea of debt. That’s not good for them, for our economy, or the futures of family members connected to this debt. Generational wealth is something I am a big proponent of. Not generational debt. 

Company’s Responsibility to Have Financially Literate Employees. 

One thing that isn’t talked about enough is that every company who has employees needs to understand their role in offering financial counseling and guidance for their employees. Firstly, at VFS, we make sure compensation packages are equitable and fair. That’s a given. It sets the groundwork for financial literacy. If people can make money and provide for their families, then they're able also to go out into our communities and give back to organizations that are promoting topics such as financial literacy. It’s a circular economy in that respect.  

You also must provide financial guidance for employees.  We have a relationship with PricewaterhouseCoopers at Volvo. And our employees can take advantage of this benefit and get financial counseling and help at any time. Guidance for 401K or other retirement benefits, for instance. Guidance on how to plan for the future—the unexpected needs that come up. If you’re a CEO, look into working with organizations to provide financial coaches and make sure you have retirement plans for your employees to help prepare them now and for their future. 

Let’s Do This For Our Future.

There is no downside to helping people understand money and how to handle and manage it for their greater good. None. And when I see people who are financially literate, I see hope for the future—not just for them but for all of us.  

I highly encourage people to volunteer or at the very least ask your schools to teach financial literacy. Interested in volunteering? Contact your local Junior Achievement.

Jacquelyn Johnson, VP people & Culture