Were you taught how to manage your personal finances in high school? I know I wasn’t, and just about everyone my age would say the same thing. The subjects we learn in school are important, but it is time to make some room for a subject that affects everyone’s lives for the rest of our lives: personal finance.
According to the Council for Financial Education, “Our global economy has become so complex that the gap between what people know about economics and personal finance, and what they need to know, is widening every day.”
It’s essential to teach young adults financial awareness before they try to make it on their own. Moving out of your parent’s house, paying rent, phone bills, and utilities, especially while attending college, is not an easy feat. With so many students needing to take out student loans right out of high school, or buying their first car, it’s extremely important to teach students how loans and interest rates work.
I know too many people in their 20’s and 30’s who still don’t know how to manage their bank accounts. This lack of basic financial awareness leads to them overdrawing their accounts far too often, or maxing out their credit cards, and unable to pay them off each month. Even though I’m not the worst with my money, there are a plenty of financial concepts I had no clue about when I graduated. I didn’t understand how a home mortgage worked until I googled it for myself a couple years ago, and I still don’t entirely understand how different retirement plans work.
It would have been beneficial to have a course available on the basics of personal finance during my junior or senior year of high school.
Teachers agree that there is a need for financial education courses in schools. According to a study done by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 89% of K-12 teachers think that students should be required to either take a financial education course, or at least pass a competency test to graduate.
The good news is that in the past few years more and more states have begun to add personal finance courses to their high school curriculum, but we still have quite a ways to go.Currently, there are 17 states that require high school students to take a course in personal finance in order to graduate. Unfortunately, my home state of Nevada is still not one of those states.
Hopefully, all fifty states will join in on this requirement so that future generations will be more prepared to make smart financial decisions. Until then, I urge students to take advantage of the resources you have already available, like the internet, and your parents’ brains. If you don’t know how student loans, grants, credit cards, credit scores, 401ks, mortgages, and budgeting works, you should go find out!