Talking the Talk About Money

Half the battle with financial success is learning the language of money.

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I have spent a significant portion of my 15-year career as a financial journalist at the New York Stock Exchange. Whether I was working for Dow Jones, CBS or CNN, I put in a great deal of time reporting from the NYSE trenches. I learned to speak the language of money straight from the horse.

Call it a sign of the times, but the discussion du jour in a recent NYSE board meeting, centered on financial literacy, which has emerged as the most crucial issue in the quest to financially empower minorities. The day turned out to be an interesting study in the price we pay for not speaking the language of money. Here are the takeaways.

The Players

Many leaders in this effort for greater financial literacy participated are making the that we must learn how to “talk the talk.” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) pointed out that, “Americans never understood the language of money.” Talk about putting your power where your mouth is. She recently sponsored bill HR 1325 which will require that college students receiving student loans, take, at minimum, a 4-hour course in financial literacy in their freshman and senior year.

“If you don’t understand the language of money and you don’t have a bank account, you are an economic slave,” said John Bryant, the founder of Operation HOPE and vice chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.

SEC commissioner Luis Aguilar said that “a wealth gap exists” even in cases where minorities and non-minorities earn the same amount of money, and he cited a lack of financial education as the culprit.

The Language of Money

Nicole Albanese, a fifth-grader from South Salem Elementary School in Port Washington, N.Y., brought to life many of the ideas and ideals that were being discussed. She wrote an essay on why a cookie jar is not the best place to save money. She went on to discuss how money actually grows in banks, and that stocks, a way to own companies you believe in, are also a good way to make money grow. She even wrote about how mutual funds are managed by professionals if you don’t want to pick your own stocks.