Crunching Numbers for My Kids
With so much talk of STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and math) for US students, I can tell you first-hand that not all students are buying into the greater need for science-based learning. In our family, I work to reverse that trend, if not for high school, then perhaps for college or even life-long learning. I call it reality therapy, with facts and figures culled from the latest news reports and everyday life statistics.
“If you wanted to leave home and rent a 2-bedroom apartment in Washington, DC, how much would it cost?” I quiz the kids over lunch one day.
Their blank looks say it all. Not a clue. I choose a 2-bedroom flat based on a news item I’ve just seen. Never mind that they might be interested more in a studio or one-bedroom place. I explain how they should probably be earning between $30 and $70 per hour to comfortably afford such an apartment.
“We would have a roommate,” the girls triumphantly conclude, trying to catch me at my own game.
“Great idea,” I enthuse, “and the more the merrier. When earning $10 per hour, you could need three, four, five, six roommates for the two bedrooms….”
They harrumph, sure that such stats don’t apply to them, these golden children “to the manor born”.
I try to imbue them with the knowledge that, when Mama and Papa were cresting adulthood, our parents did not toss trust funds our way and that it’s entirely possible to pay one’s own way in life. Think of the sense of accomplishment. Think of the independence. Think of math-as-our-friend.
They’re not buying a word of it. Some of them (not all) could care less about the harsh realities of life lying in wait outside our front door. At ages 16 through 20, I think this might pique their interest.
I press on. How much does four years of college cost? Could you work during summer or winter school breaks? Should you test-by-exam to fulfill some lower-level undergrad requirements at 1/10th of the cost?
That draws their attention slightly.
If our oldest received a raise on the job or took on additional responsibilities, how much could he potentially earn? Would he double his current part-time salary? As one of our children fascinated with such facts, he rapidly calculates such benefits and the others gaze on in awe.
Like most mothers anywhere, every day is my State of the Union speech. Here’s hoping that some of them are listening….
—————-Tags: calculating salary and expenses, everyday math for everyday disinterested teens, financial survival skills for teens, how much do you need to earn, importance of STEM classes