Ask the Readers: Should Personal Finance be Taught in Schools?

By Ashley Jacobs on 8 February 2011 117 comments
Photo: skynesher

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From an early age, we were all taught the subject of mathematics. School taught us everything from addition to subtraction to geometry to calculus. But there was one subject that seemed to be missing from the curriculum: personal finance.

Do you think personal finance should be taught in schools? Is an in-depth understanding of personal finance as important as taking courses in geometry or calculus? Why or why not?

Tell us whether or not you think personal finance should be taught in schools and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
Suzanne

It should be taught in school -- and it IS taught in my kids' middle and high schools, as part of math, home & careers, and other subjects. My daughter is in 7th grade and just learned the difference between credit and debit cards and how to maintain a checkbook. Good stuff.

Guest's picture
RebeccaKate

Yes! I 100% believe that personal finance should be taught right alongside with calculus, grammar and biology. So many people are un- or mis-informed about personal finance - I really think some basic understanding of personal finance would save a lot of people from a lifetime of debt. (although there will always be those people who want what they can't afford ... that is another lesson to be taught!)

Guest's picture
Kristi Hancock

Yes! Here in Tennessee it is now a required course for high school graduation. I would like to see it added to the middle school and elementary curriculum, as well!

Guest's picture
Jan

YES, I think it should be taught in schools. Personal finance is something that EVERYONE experiences in life. If you're taught properly, you could save your child from a headache of debt later on in life. I think it should be a required course and not an elective.

Guest's picture
bitvoy

Absolutely! I'm a parent that has taught my child well and I believe in personal responsibility. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that just don't have the knowledge to pass on to their children. It's a downward spiral. Those with the knowledge get ahead. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Let's give everyone the knowledge to have a fighting chance.

Guest's picture
Shoshana

YES! I work in a high school and kids can't count back change properly let alone balance a checkbook.

Guest's picture

No way! It is a great idea in theory, but most teachers are not qualified to teach the subject. It would be like having a math teach trying to instruct our children in chemistry. Some could wing it, but others would flop. Do we really want to leave it to the untrained in that field. It is the parents' responsiblity, not the schools.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Great point about teachers not necessarily being qualified to teach personal finance Hank! But what if parents aren't the most financially savvy people either?

Guest's picture
Suzanne

We really need financial literacy to be taught in schools otherwise we have a case of the blind leading the blind. Think of all the people who have made poor financial choices in recent years. How can we expect them to teach their children about personal finance when they are struggling themselves?

I wrote a blog post about this last week http://www.growingrichkids.com/2011/02/04/blind-leading-the-blind-why-pa...

Some people say that personal finance is common sense. That's not the case these days. It's become a lot more complex. Australia is introducing personal finance into schools and one of the reasons they give is that it's a lot more challenging today than 30 or 40 years ago. Here are some more details: http://www.growingrichkids.com/2011/01/27/financial-literacy-in-schools-... (Not sure if that's breaking the rules by posting two blog links.)

Thanks for starting a discussion on this topic. Will be interesting to see what others think.

Guest's picture
Tiffany

Most definitely! I so wish personal finances had been taught in school. I think I would have gotten off to a much better start to adulthood.

Guest's picture
Angie

Yes, definitely. At least the basics of how to balance a checkbook and how credit cards can dig a whole so quickly and basic and compound interest.

Guest's picture
Elizabeth

I think having the knowledge and skills to manage one's personal finances is very important. However, I believe that this is not the responsibility of our schools. Have you looked, lately, to see what teachers are already asked to do in 180 days each year?

Economics was part of my high school curriculum, but at 18, I did not take it seriously. The lessons I learned about managing my personal finances came from my PARENTS. They modeled good management, and I learned from conversations around the dinner table, books I was given to read, and by the environment they created.

Adding another curriculum requirement to the schools can be an additional opportunity for parents to shirk responsibility. It is a valuable skill, but not one I want to leave to an already overstretched teacher to cover. Will he/she then have his/her effectiveness graded by how "in debt" the students are in ten years' time? Tongue in cheek, yes, but closer to the truth than most people realize.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Great point about teachers not necessarily having the time to teach personal finance. Teachers already have a lot on their plates to teach in such a short amount of time, it would be difficult to squeeze in another subject into an already jam-packed year.

Guest's picture
Emily

Yes, because parents don't always seem to be doing it or don't have time for their kids, or just simply assume that kids will learn on their own. While not every responsibility should be transferred from parents to teachers, schools can offer reinforcement for some life skills.

Guest's picture
AJ

Yes Personal Finance needs to be taught in Schools, but first please please please teach mathematics properly.

Guest's picture
Joel

Unquestionably yes--this is one of the most practical skills one can learn, and unfortunately many won't quickly learn personal finance elsewhere.

Guest's picture
CB

Definitely, and the lessons learned won't have a tremendous effect against the juggernaut of advertising so the debt-based, over-consumptive society will still go full tilt until the resources are all gone.

Every kid should be taught from the book "Your Money or Your Life" so that those who can think themselves don't fall into the deb trap and have more control over their lives. Givens made at least one good point--there's always someone out there ready to relieve you of your dollars.

Guest's picture
Guest

Absolutely. Life skills courses are essential parts of education. They can also teach students practical uses of the skills they learn in school which can motivate them to try harder in the "core" subjects (math, language arts, science, and social studies). My husband is an econ teacher and I'm proud to say he teaches one lesson a week focused on personal finances. This may not follow the "standards", but the standards are wrong.

Guest's picture
Brie

Absolutely! I remember taking home economics in junior high and there was absolutely nothing related to finance or economics taught in the class. We learned to sew and to cook, but we learned nothing about tracking personal expenses, making a budget, saving, or any other core skill related to personal finance. Luckily, my parents were diligent in making sure I understood all these concepts, and I was balancing my own checkbook by the time I entered high school. Math and home economics classes should absolutely focus on personal finance. Not only would math seem more related to real life (how many times have we asked the question, "when am I going to NEED this?"), but people would enter into their adult lives with some sound knowledge of personal finances.

Guest's picture
Jason

Absolutely! College too!

Guest's picture

I definitely believe that there is an upside to teaching financial literacy in schools. However, with that being said, we cannot simply believe that if financial literacy is taught in schools, all financial problems will be solved and our future generations will be poised to become wealthy. As 'Smarter than a 5th Grader' illustrates, simply because something is taught in school does not warrant that the information will be retained and even utilized later on. Furthermore, there are thoughts to consider like, who will teach financial literacy? Existing teachers? How will THEY be trained/educated? Where will funding come from? How is the curriculum determined?, etc.

Through my experience as a volunteer of Junior Achievement, I have been able to witness the benefits of introducing and educating young people on the principles of personal finance. In one session that I taught to a class of grade seven student’s, I had a teacher come up to me afterward and express her gratitude for how much she had learned! There is tremendous value in teaching financial literacy in schools.

Guest's picture
Stephanie G

Absolutely! I don't understand why schools don't see how critical it is to teach this important life skill, but they'll offer couses like home economics, horticulture or shop that students can take.

Guest's picture
HighOrderGuiltComplex

i think that personnal finance should be taught in schools. I only remember one class period going over how to write checks and that is about it.

Guest's picture
Kaztx

Absolutely! If my kindergartner can learn about nutrition and wise food choices in school, there's no reason kids can't also be taught some basics about personal finance.

Guest's picture

Good counterpoints by some others:
1. schools are already not teaching kids the basics (math, science, etc.)
2. financial literacy should be the parent's responsibility

The first point is valid, but varies by region. As for the second points, while I completely agree that parents should teach kids about financial literacy, look at what caused the financial crises were are emerging from. People receiving mortgages they could not afford due to new bank products which weren't around when their parents bought a 30 yr fixed rate mortage in the 60's. These people simply trusted the banks when they should have done their homework and figured out they couldn't afford these homes.

Am I saying we should teach grade schoolers and high schoolers how to finance their first home? Not quite. I am saying that we should teach basic principles of personal finance - what can you do with money besides spend it, how credit works, what is a fiduciary, how to use compounding interest to your advangate, and most importantly: the long lasting negative impact of poor financial decisions. Too many people learn the last lesson the hard way because their parents and friends are just as equally uneducated. We can do much better as a country and the schools can help.

Guest's picture
Coree

Yes, absolutely! So many adults don't have the necessary skills in personal finance to pass on to their children. We'd all benefit if kids learned about saving, spending, balancing their budget, and risks and benefits of credit cards.

Guest's picture
PolishMom

Is an in-depth understanding of personal finance as important as taking courses in geometry or calculus? Why or why not?

It is MORE important. For many high school students (really) they will not need geometry or calculus in real life, but they ALL need an understanding of personal finance.

My kiddos school has implemented personal finance as a requirement for graduation. I wish their colleges would do the same.

Guest's picture
Lee

Yes, personal finance should absolutely be taught in schools. It's both a teachable and essential life skill that's vital to success and the pursuit of prosperity. It's also a skill that too many Americans either do not possess or only minimally so.

Guest's picture
Ryan W

Without a doubt. My biggest fear for my younger siblings and future children is that they will not be able to get the financial intelligence they need to survive in the current economic environment (though I am confident I will be able to provide that education for them myself). Influences, with the exception of parents, are either a detriment or nonexistant. TV teaches wants and desires; never moderation, frugality or simply saving. Schools teach how to balance a checkbook but not how to balance a budget. In school, students may do a project on picking stocks but not how to pick index funds. You would be hard pressed to find any education that teaches a budget much less one that will teach and reinforce the fundamentals of budgeting from a young age through adulthood. As it is right now, I think it is the parents' job to teach children personal finance but if the parents are financially illiterate, what chance do the children really have?

Guest's picture
Roxanne

Yes! I would say that should be the responsibility of the parents, but recently I have encountered so many adults that don't even know the basics. These people cannot understand checks, banks, balancing or anything even elementary when it comes to money. I believe in the good of all people and if we give more tools to our citizens with any means we have at our disposal, then it will create a better community for us all. Imagine someone who cannot balance a checkbook and may worry constantly if they have any money at all becoming knowledgeable and confident, they may be able to donate and purchase more intelligently. After all, in this country, our biggest vote is the one we place with our dollar!

Guest's picture
Lisa

Personal finance classes would be a great addition to school curriculum. Children should be taught from an early age so they might be better prepared as adults.

Guest's picture
Lacy

I think that yes it should in some way, even if its just as part of another class. I feel like if I had learned more about finances and how to manage money as part of a required class in school, I might have made smarter decisions about things like college funding, student loans, 401ks in first jobs, etc.

Guest's picture
Erica R.

Yes! Honestly, personal finance should also be available for adult education as well. Teaching the basics at a high school level would definitely build a starting foundation. When the reality of life hits with bills, debt, homes, and cars, we all really need a thorough refresher course of the basics to help make smart financial decisions. I am surprised that very few businesses exist to give classes on personal finance (eg mortgage costs, investment options, etc). We can seek help from professionals, but what about just a basic online class?

Guest's picture
Java

Short answer, no. Too much red tape, no one to teach it, and timing is poor.

Long answer incoming: Education budgets are tight already, adding a class about finance would meet strong resistance from all sides. The demand is low from parents and students, current teachers are not trained in finance, and admins would complain about hiring an entirely new teaching staff and new training programs.

My suggestion is a compromise:

Add a small workshop during elementary school about college savings accounts (529 plan). Make it one full day, available for a few days every year for student's parents, mandatory at least once for all parents. Encourage a local credit union, bank, or online brokerage to sponsor classes (Additional accounts, good PR for them). They can supply the workshop teacher.

Signing up for the class will auto-enroll you into a 529 plan with, say, Fidelity or some other online broker with a low minimum balance. Teach everyone how to log in, transfer money into the account, and purchase an investment. Emphasize two things: Tax savings and how FAFSA gives out financial aid. Possibly suggest a retirement target funds, except targeted at the date of their college. (is there a college target date fund?)

Part two, add unit in mathematics classes (about 2-3 weeks) in high schools. Students need to be taught to avoid financial traps like excessive credit card debt and a LACK of a credit score. Teach about credit cards (how to pay, APR, NEVER carrying a balance, and card benefits such as extended warranty and consumer protection), checking and savings accounts, credit reports/scores, and the FAFSA application. Again, try to get support from a local credit union, bank, non-profit, or online brokerage house.

Other possible topics: private scholarships; identity theft; and common financial scams.

Avoid investment strategy topics, because proficiency with investment strategy cannot be easily tested, and the topic easily sparks debate. Do not talk about 0% intro APR and transfer APRs or rewards programs as it might encourage CC spending. The other stuff is 100% beneficial for students.

The subject of credit cards is possibly the most "risky," but emphasize the dangers of a college student or young adult who has no experience picking, using, or paying for a credit card.

Guest's picture
Java

Add on (Sorry for wall of text):
Other good topics: Insurance (Car, Renter's), emergency fund

If you have time topics: Insurance (Home owner's, Health, life), Auto-financing/Leasing/Buying a used car, mortgages, how to get out of debt
For most students, none of these topics are immediately useful.

Topics to avoid: Retirement accounts
Even the most fiscally responsible 16 year old is still a 16 year old. The time spent on these topics will be largely wasted, because the students will forget/fall asleep. Retirement accounts would require teaching investing strategies, and this will add a few weeks of classroom time. Best option instill proper saving techniques, ideally resulting in no debt, a good credit score, and money in the bank.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Wow, such a well thought out compromise! Really neat ideas! Thank you for sharing this with us!

Guest's picture

I like these ideas, but from a pedagogical point of view, mandatory pulled out workshops and classes are unlikely to stick. I would rather see more regular treatment of these things built into math and government coursework, and maybe even discussion of certain things in reading or social studies classes (e.g. why are the pioneers making their own clothes). A few worksheets and discussions a year for 12 years is going to have more chances to stick than a required one-day workshop (read: you're going to make me spend my Saturday doing something and I'm going to pay as little attention as possible). Then at such point when you might have counselors coming around talking about jobs and scholarships and so forth in high school (we had assemblies and homeroom visits and career days for this), there will be a connection there to hang onto.

Guest's picture
Samirt

Yes, but not as a separate class. Rather, math and science classes should incorporate into their lessons.

Guest's picture
Dana V.

I do not think this should be taught in schools. Like sex education, personal finances is a very personal thing. I learned everything I needed to know about finances just by observing my dad while growing up: if you don't have the cash, don't buy it.

Guest's picture
NTE

Absolutely it should.

Guest's picture
Eric

The current personal finance education is abysmal. Students get through school without knowing how to balance a check book or that credit cards have to really be repaid or you suffer major consequences. Basic personal finance concepts (banking, credit, mortgage loans) should be taught to middle and high school students before graduation.

Guest's picture
JS Barbuto

Yes, yes, yes. A class on contracts should be included in this. How many people know what they are signing up for when they sign for their first cell phone? How about a class on leasing - cars, houses, apartments? We handicap our children when we keep them in ignorance.

Guest's picture
Sarah

Absolutely! My parents did not prepare me at all.

Guest's picture
Joy

Absolutely! I know many people in their 20's who have been ripped off by car dealerships because they don't know a thing about interest rates. I keep seeing commercials for filing for bankruptcy to eliminate debt, I wonder how many people believe those commercials and screwed up their credit

Guest's picture
Kristy OT

Oh, definitely. It's one of the most important life skills there is!

Guest's picture
Guest

I am a firm believer that personal finance should be taught at a young age. Especially considering the endless spending and soaring consumer debt which has led to our current recession, it appears that we have failed generations of Americans from learning the proper way to use their money. The sooner and longer that personal finance is addressed, the better future generations will be at handling financial hurdles. Of course, this should not take the burden off parents who have a responsibility to talk frankly with their children about money.

Guest's picture

Yes and no. Yes, the basics of FINANCE should be taught in high school - as this can be taught out of a text book quite easily. But unfortunately, our nation's high school teachers are not adequately equipped to teach "personal finance".

The real problem though is that knowledge won't change anything. Just because our kids know what a credit card is doesn't mean that they won't abuse it.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Very valid point Chris. I had never thought about that before. I could see how knowledge might not necessarily cause action. For example, people are constantly educated on the benefits of having a healthy diet, but many people don't utilize that knowledge. They instead pig out on junk food. I could easily see the same thing happening in regards to personal finance.

Guest's picture
Patrick

Yes, if you teach the mechanics in parallel with other courses, the theory and philosophy can be reinforced in practice at home. I volunteered with Junior Achievement and taught a couple of courses that included personal finance content to an elementary school class and it was both rewarding for me and for them. I was actually amazed at how much they already knew about checking accounts, overdraft charges, balancing your checkbook, budgets and saving. It gave me hope. I encourage everyone to volunteer, even if you have to create your own original content or organize your own classes.

Guest's picture
Melyssa

YES! They don't have to be financial planners or have a degree in finance, but teach the basics. Some parents don't even know how to budget their own ledger. We have economics classes which are way over the kids' heads. Why not teach practical real life subjects that every child will eventually encounter?

How many kids do you know use physics and calculus? Not as many as the kids that take those classes, but they are taught in our schools. Our financial literacy in this country is oh so sad. My neighbor works for customer service for those pre-paid cards. Many of the customers don't even realize that they have to fund the card in order to use it. And those are adults! So many adults have no idea that you're supposed to live within your means.

If we want things to change, then let's start with the kids. Let's teach them that if they do make $10/hr and work 20hrs/wk, then that $600/month car payment doesn't make sense when there are taxes, insurance, maintenance and gas to pay for. Get them while they're young in hopes that we change this country's financial future.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

Of course it should be taught in school. It was taught to me when I was in the 4th grade back in 1974. Mrs. Truesdell taught all of her classes but was the only teacher of mine to do it. She didn't teach us anything fancy but the basics of how to manage our household money, write checks, save for emergencies, look for the best deals and saving for a down payment for a house. I think that we were very, very fortunate.

I was also fortunate that Economics was offered in high school.

This was long before credit and debit cards were prevelent. The fast and easy refinancing of houses, the 0% down loans and only interest loans.

We do our children a diservice if they are not taught at home. I believe that because money is still a taboo subject in many homes; it should be taught in schools to help ensure that high school graduates are prepared to go out into the world.

Guest's picture
Mark 2011

Absolutely, but it should be integrated with course material from kindergarten to grade 12, always building on what was learned previously. The important thing about financial education is to teach it in an applied manner. Make it fun, make it interactive and make it memorable and kids will remember it. The biggest hurdle in teaching kids is giving teachers enough confidence to teach the material. If teachers don't know it, they won't teach it and it won't have an impact. A sinlge course in high schools isn't a bad thing, but at that point, it's too little, too late. And again, the quality of the instruction is only as good as the effort the teacher puts into it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Most definitely it should be taught but it would be best if it is integrated with current subjects like reading, math and social studies.

Guest's picture
Betty

Yes, yes, yes. My daughter is completely clueless when it comes to managing money. I wish I had a finance class at an earlier age.

Guest's picture
katy w

ABSOLUTELY!!!! Especially, about how a budget works, how not to live paycheck to paycheck, how to balance a checkbook, how to pay yourself first, how a credit card really works and how long it takes to pay it off, if paying only the minimum amount, what a credit score is and how it can mess with your life....I didn't have any of this, when I was growing up and my parents were far from being personal finance role models. Here, I'm in my late 30s and through reading many, many personal finance books and blogs have I figured these things out.

Guest's picture
Angela

I think they should be able to incorporate elements of personal finance concepts into math classes. I would be totally in favor of having the schools teach kids that $$$ does not grow on trees or spit out from an ATM at will.

Guest's picture
Therese

Yes, because no matter what job they prepare for in the future, they need to learn to handle their own money.

Guest's picture
jet

yes yes and triple compounded interest yes! Why I would sign away my next paycheck just to have had a personal finaince class back in the day!

Guest's picture
Em

I can't imagine what a good argument against teaching kids about the ideas of want vs. need, saving, how to write check, etc. would look like.

So, in a word...YES! Teach it!

Guest's picture
Lynda

yes because it is as equally important as geometry, trigonometry, and english.

Guest's picture
Heather

On the surface it looks like a good idea to teach personal finance in schools. However, I observed a 6th grade class in which personal finance was taught for several weeks. I disagreed with many of the teacher's preferences about proper handling of finances. There is rarely consensus on the *best* financial approach to someone's life. Do you want your children learning from a school teacher how to spend and save money? Keep in mind that not all teachers are wise and in their 50's. Many are young (20's/30's) and have never purchased a home or even have children. This approach assumes that there is a best/correct way to handle finance and that a teacher has that knowledge.

Also, finance is a very complicated subject that was simplified to a ridiculous level for the 6th grade. The generalizations worked for the projects that the students had to complete, but wouldn't work for the real world.

Wouldn't you rather point out the wisdom you've learned from life to your children yourself?

Guest's picture
Jennifer

Yes, the terms and concepts should be taught. However, teachers should stay away from teaching that there is a "right" and "wrong" way to manage personal finance. Hopefully, by learning the facts, students will be guided into making choices that fit their personal circumstances and needs.

Guest's picture
Alex

Definitely. Avoiding a financial meltdown through proper education would've saved me a whole lot of heartache.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

Yes! Some people were never taught at home about basic personal finances and so they cannot pass on any knowledge to their children. I think learning how to reconcile a checking account, why debt can cost so much more in the long run, how to set up a very simple budget, and how to save are important things for kids to know before they head out into the real world.

Guest's picture
Lani C

Absolutely! It's so important. I have a whole list of things that "I wish I had known" that I will be sure to teach my two girls.

Guest's picture
Raina

I can see it as one or two lectures to some of the older teenagers, but I can't see an entire semester spent on it or what kinds of homework assignments/tests the students would be given. So I could see it as the type of thing the schools do for young teens, where they gather everyone in an auditorium and go over STDs and birth control options, etc. It could be like that where they grab the high school juniors and seniors and go over the basics of finances (anyone younger than that is NOT going to pay attention or care; they aren't making money yet!)

Guest's picture
Chris

We should be ashamed it isn't already. School is preparation. Why would we send our youngsters out into the world unprepared for the major continuing activity of their lives?

Guest's picture

Yes, absolutely, it should be taught in schools!

Guest's picture
autumn

OUr son was taught personal finance in school -- and went through Financial Peace and STILL was an overdraft nightmare. Teaching is only half the battle. Until they feel like putting the knowledge into practice its pretty worthless.

But at least he had been exposed to the information.

Guest's picture
Jessica G.

Oh hell yes! This is one of my biggest gripes with public school. They spent years pounding American History into our heads (reviewing the same stuff we learned in middle school), forced us to learn paper-writing methods in prep for college that weren't even used in college, etc etc, but taught us nothing about getting ready for the "real world," and a huuuuge part of that is personal finance. I am so fortunate that I had parents who knew better, but so many today don't. Even if only 5% more people retain what they learned about personal finance from school, that's still a huge amount.

It's not like this is a controversial topic to be teaching. I know there's a lot of other classes they need to fit in, but if they just take a few weeks during senior year to teach this, plenty of kids will be better off.

Guest's picture
Stacey Patterson

Absolutely! I have stressed this for many years that personal finance isn't taught in schools and it should be. You want kids to learn geometry, chemistry, alegebra, etc. but you don't teach them common sense things that they are going to face in the everyday world! I think that is part of the problem with the economy today! If they didn't have parents that taught them the RIGHT way to deal with their finances they wouldn't have a clue!

Guest's picture
Hollie

Yes! As a former teacher, I know it's hard to find the time to add more curriculum, but I think it is a really valuable skill. Financial lessons should be taught at home, but I don't think we can assume that it will be taught. Ideally, it could be taught as a sort of long term role play within the context of other subjects including social studies (supply and demand) and math (obviously, huh?). By role play, I mean for kids to receive play money throughout the year, have a "job" in the classroom and have to rent/mortgage their space (desk or locker as a substitute for house). Perhaps a partnership could be formed with banks or credit card companies as part of their community outreach - to teach responsible borrowing and have subject matter experts included.

Guest's picture
Christie

Absolutely, positively, 1000% yes. If you know who won the Battle of Trafalgar, and not how to balance your checkbook, that is an epic "F" in life. One of the most important life lessons that children can be taught is how to live within their means, the value of money, and the difference between a want and a need.

Guest's picture

Absolutely! Start early and expand every year, just like other core subjects.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I think it would be helpful for personal finance to be incorporated into various other classes, but not sure if a specific course is warranted.

I remember learning about interest, budgetting and how to balance a checkbook as part of my high school math courses, mostly the lower level algebra courses. I also learned how to dilute anti-freeze, make change in my head and, yes, how to compute when two trains going in opposite directions will pass each other, all from algebra story problems.
Somewhere along the way I learned how to write checks. I think that might actually have been elementary school when we were learning/practicing handwriting. High school US history and economics classes taught me more about how the US financial system works.
To me (I'm an engineer, not a teacher) it seems like it would be very easy to work personal finance into so many different courses in schools as an application of the concepts that are already being taught. If that's not done, I think it should be.

Guest's picture
Guest

YES...this should be taught in school. I had a consumer science class that we had to take so we could graduate. It was boring but we were taught about how to get a loan for a car or home, car insurance, health insurance and the different kinds of life insurance. What you need to know to get an apartment and how to prepare a budget.

My daughter is taking a personal finance class in college and is finding out that mom & dad know what they are talking about when we say you need to prepare for your future and emergencies.

Guest's picture
Tina Rapp

I definitely feel that finances should be taught in School. An organization I belong to has put together a program that we take to middle schools in our area. The children chose a profession. They receive a specific amount of money in a form of a paycheck according the the average that profession receives. Then they have to go to each station and pay for groceries, car loans, education loans, vacations, etc. They spin the wheel of life and sometimes they win the lottery, but they have to pay taxes on the winnings. Sometimes they have to pay for glasses or repairs to the heater.

I was in charge of the grocery store. I was surprised how many children didn't even know what the word frugal meant. I had given price that they had to pay according to how many people were in their family and how many times they ate out. Some of the kids were amazed how much they had to pay. Some changed their minds and decided that they were going to eat at home for every meal.

This 2 hour program helped the kids realize that money doesn't grow on trees and how much their parents have to pay just to buy their designer clothes. It would be interesting to follow up with those children to see how they view spending money after that.

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Keri Ritenour

Definitely. I believe it should be a required subject. An alarming number of adults cannot even balance a checkbook because they were never taught how to do so. The importance of credit, financing, leasing, etc. should be stressed to students, not to mention how these things can affect your life. Another area that should be addressed is filling out a simple W4 form. As noted above, sometimes it is like the blind leading the blind. If the parents don't know how to do it, how are their children to learn? Although it is not mandatory for my daughter, she has opted to take the course this semester at our insistence.

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Guest

Perhaps if school stressed reading, writing, math, history, and civics children could figure out life skills with the help of parents not the nanny gov't.

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Matt

One of the basic tenants of finance my Grandma taught me was "money makes money." While she meant that from an investment perspective, the same can be said with respect for education in that the upper class tend to bestow financial knowledge and an underlying education on their children much more than the middle and lower class in society.

I remember taking home economics in middle and high school and thinking it should be called "cooking." That was all the economics/finance education I received, until I went out and learned it myself.

I attended a public school, however, and moving to NYC I've learned that basic finances are indeed taught in school here, as are other valuable subjects like Mandarin...for a price of $31,118 in annual tuition --- for Kindergarten.

Yes, grandma, money makes money indeed. Hopefully someday public schools will get around to teaching these fundamental concepts as well.

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Guest

It absolutely should be taught. Maybe we can have a generation of folks who understand running up a credit card (or 2 or 3 or 4) to the max and only making minimum payments is a bad idea. And if you make $50,000 a year you probably don't want a mortgage on a $300,000 house.
It's a shame that the US Government (no matter which party is in power) doesn't set a better example.
J Wunderle
Springfield, MO

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Lisa V.

One very easy answer: YES. That pretty much sums it up!

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kristina wittchen

Definitely.

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finance should definitely be taught in schools. our schools are hot beds of advertisements for the latest and most expensive gear. Our children are being raised to think they are what they wear. Many of our parents who can least afford this are falling prey to the" I don't want my child to be denied syndrome". Our children are not learning values which are important for life. They have no money sense and think that this is how they will live life in the future. Ask the average middle schooler where they will live and what kind of lifestyle they will have and you will hear real fairy tales. The sad part is these kids don't realize it's a fairy tale.The majority of these kids don't have bank accounts and in some cases, no one in their family has an account. Our children need to be ready fr the next century.

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Evan

I am going to go against the grain here and say no it shouldn't be taught in school...simple math is all that is needed for the most part lol

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Terrie

There is a wonderful financial literacy program sponsored by CU for Reality in NH (my financial institution, Bellwether Community Credit Union is involved inthe program). CU for Reality teaches the kids responsible financial practices from beginning to end. The kids participating pick a career they would like, are given a "salary" and brought through samples of life's expenses with that salary. It is a very realistic and engaging approach and thie kdisa always remark how suprised they are with the expenses!

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Jawnsonboots

I really do think personal finance should be taught in schools. I know in high school they finally added some type of home economics class but I think it's too little, too late. These sort of things should be taught starting in middle school and going throughout their lives. I know some people my age - early 20's that can't keep track of their own finances because they think that by using credit cards they are getting free money.

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Carson

I think young people should be taught personal finance sometime in the latter years of high school or sometime throughout the duration of college (especially concerning the effects that student loans are going to have on them). Everyone should have some basic knowledge of popular bank services/products, how to budget, paying off debt(s), etc. This kind of knowledge is forever useful, unlike most of the other things we're taught in schools which only have relevance in a handful of scenarios.

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Maria S

YES. Definitely.

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Absolutely. I don't even feel the need to explain why I agree. It's pretty obvious.

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gina

I think that personal finance should be taught at home, not at school. It is the job of a parent to teach kids basics--(manners, morals, proper behavior, to name a few) AND managing finances!

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Kim

Yes. It should definitely be taught. When my daughter was in fourth grade, she learned how to write checks and picked several stocks to watch for a month. She had a lot of fun, and it was a great learning experience for her.

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Pamela

Without a doubt, YES! I was fortunate that my father subscribed to Money magazine for years. I picked it up and started reading it - I was most interested in "One Family's Finances". So I started learning from a very early age. But not every child is as lucky as I was. I see so many of my friends who are in terrible trouble with student loans and credit card debt that a little education would have gone a long way!

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Jo

Absolutely! I have two girls, one had a personal finance course in high school and the other didn't. They are adults with children of their own and there is a big difference in their handling of money all associated with the course. I think all schools should teach personal finance, especially since most of the parents today don't know enough about it to teach their children, as shown by the amount of people in financial trouble today.

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Dana

Absolutely! I think it should be a class in HS just like Health.

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Amanda

I think personal finance should be taught in schools. I participate in the Dave Ramsey TMMO forums, and I marvel at how many of us smart, college educated folks made stupid, stupid decisions with money when we were in our twenties, because we had no grounding in personal finance.

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Sergio

If the schools don't do it, I certainly will with my children. Personal Finance should start at middle school where young teenagers are starting to use money regularly. But it has to be more than "How to Balance a Checkbook." I don't want teachers out there putting fear into our children about using credit cards but explain why carrying a month to month balance paying only the minimum amount is throwing away money. This could help teenagers who get their first credit card, charge for everything and feel like it is okay to pay only the minimum monthly.

Also talking more about all the options available in personal financing from investing, 401k, and more. A simple project starting at the beginning of the year and watching them see their investments grow throughout, I would hope give them the knowledge for future decisions they have in their adult life.

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Sarah

Definitely! While many subjects learned in school come into play during the rest of life in varying degrees, personal finance is something everyone can benefit from knowing. I learned a little here and there throughout school, but I think having it a full class on it would have given me (and everyone else) a strong foundation of knowledge to start from.

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J. Steele

Absolutely! It's a skill they will need their entire lives no matter their occupation. Educators teach history, literature, math, and so on, and all have a place in our lives, however none can compare with understanding personal finance. You can everything there is about history or literature but it won't help you balance your budget or better understand your credit score, etc. Let's bring our education system into the 21st Century.

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Aaron

Personal Finance should totally be included in education. About the third or fourth grade they should understand the value of money and how to earn it. Additionally, it is important to teach saving principles but also that you can spend it on items you truly desire.