If two trains leave the station at the same time headed for Southwick…

“I’m not very good at mental math,” the girl at the cash register shrugged. I had asked her a rhetorical question as I handed her six items each costing $5.59. Which saves me more: using my six 20% off coupons (I had to use one coupon per item) or my coupon for $5 off my entire purchase? Not very good at mental math?? I started to respond but instead I shrugged and handed over the coupons (all six of them).

This cashier was at least 16 and probably closer to 18, older than some teen parents served by Parents as Teachers programs. Imagine for a moment if your parent couldn’t do the mental math needed for this simple money-saving purchase above. What other important everyday computations must this teen and others like her be miscalculating…if they’re calculating at all! And what does that bode for the workforce of the future?

Regular readers of this blog have heard me write about a fantastic financial workbook for young parents called Money Matters. It walks teens through the process of creating a spending plan (not a -gasp- budget!). It helps them really understand that financial planning is a lot like that old Rolling Stones song: You can’t always get what you want.

*Numbers from ABC News