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Marjoriet T. Matute Headshot

Preventing Bankruptcy Before Preschool

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As I stir my morning coffee, I can hear the television downstairs in my parents' apartment, the morning news is going over the financial status of our country. My parents are preparing for their day. My dad is in the bathroom preparing for dialysis and my mom is clanking away in the kitchen... probably rearranging it again. The sound of my children playing fills my first floor, mixed with cartoon reruns, unlike upstairs where there is peace as the last to awake is my boyfriend whose bedtime is close to 3 a.m. As I stand here I ask myself, "is this it?" I know professionally I am on a journey as I discover my strength and passion for my organization but at this point right now, am I happy with myself as a whole? Media flashes images of beautiful woman, the possibility of successful careers and economic growth but what is the truth to obtaining these types of accomplishments? Is the "American Dream" really in our reach?

In a recent Google search, my bankruptcy was revealed to the general public. Immediately this raised panic in my chest. Questions as to why this needed to be exposed started racing in my head. Who benefits from this type of information? Potential employers? Creditors? Nosy friends? I quickly tried to make this go away and found out that this was now an imprint on my path that cannot be deleted. After speaking to my mentors and role models, they all told me the same thing: "There is nothing to be ashamed of and believe you will rise above it!" Is this true in today's society? Can we simple hit rock bottom and work our way out of the red zone? I think back to my childhood and the financial structure of my parents... Have I followed in their footsteps? After an extensive number of hours investigating, I come to find out that I have blindly fallen in a very similar situation that was never properly fixed by mom and dad. Living paycheck to paycheck might have been the easier way to live in the '80s for middle class Americans due to lack of financial guidance but is that an excuse why now in 2013 families are suffering from lack of savings and overdraft fees? These same families have now taught a whole new generation how to juggle their cash and the ill responsible ways to manage their money, me being one of them unfortunately.

Research by Harris Interactive for Coupon Cabin has found that 77 percent of parents said they are currently talking with their children about the importance of being financially literate, compared with just 21 percent who said they were not teaching their children about how to manage money. Starting to explain finances to a child as early as age 3-year-old will help add a sense of give and exchange and can begin during a simple transaction in the supermarket. Explaining your work routine and your weekly earnings can also paint a picture as it sets an example. Most studies repeat how parents cannot find time to teach this crucial message to their children, so are these the parents that have set their kids up for financial failure? I have not yet decided if I personally fell into this category or if it was my own responsibility to budget my monies better but I did find some answers to help my children not follow this foolish route. Advice from businessnewsdaily.com has inspired me to break the mold and reinvent the way we handle allowance in our home. They go into detail about how children should portion their allowance into four parts, 30 percent to spending, 30 percent to short-term savings 30 percent to long-term savings and 10 percent to giving. This concept is mentioned again by Money Savvy Generation's co-founder Susan Beacham. She explains the four compartments of the piggy bank she invented -- save, spend, donate & invest.

Reflecting this morning on the "American Dream" has brought up the sensitive reminder of my financial struggles in the past. I was not prepared for maternity leave and paid the consequence by filing for bankruptcy. This was a choice I had to make at that time. Since then I have establish financial stability and set a new stone on a path of success for my children. I am fortunate to have regained my pride by leading the way for the next generation. As the founder of a charity organization, I take pride in the 10 percent savings in my children's piggy bank. As Beacham states, "You're teaching them to stop, pause, and reflect, and this is the first step toward teaching them to delay gratification." Allowance, which is earned, is the only way a parent can teach a child control and the value of hard work. It is our responsibility to make time to show them how to use a potty, brush their teeth and tie their shoes... so why not add the value of a dollar to that list? As Denis Waitley humbly stated, "The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence."