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

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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
Crystal Moyer

yeah i belive it shoudl be taught in school i know i would have benifited tremendously from it.

Guest's picture
FinWizard

It's amazing to me that anyone would oppose this. In today's world, financial skill is a life skill! Without a basic understanding of commerce, credit, interest, fees, etc. you cripple yourself and virtually guarantee financial struggles. If it's not included in the education system, large corporations with profit motivation (who have something to sell you) will jump in and add to their bottom line at your expense. People learn hard financial lessons every day through experience, due to a lack of knowledge and understanding, but they don't have to. This is a no-brainer!!

Guest's picture
Kris

Yes, personal finance is the one subject I longed for in school and I was confused as to why it's not being offered. I had to meet up with my teacher outside of school to learn more about finance and investing. But wait a sec, aren't we studying for 12-16 years so we can build value and so we can earn money??

As many wealthy people know, the paycheck is not what makes someone rich. It is how you manage your money and how frugal you are that makes the difference! Read up on Warren Buffet and you'll know that he lives in a very small house, even though he's a billionaire. Money seems to be our life blood nowadays, and parents send their kids to college for their financial well being, so therefore, why ISN'T it taught in school? Look how many people run on debt, and overspend, even with 6 figure salaries! The simplest concepts have yet to be taught to our fellow Americans, the most obvious one being in order to build wealth, you must spend less than you earn.

This also occurred during the great depression long ago, but after the great depression was over, MANY PEOPLE learned to save and invest because they fully understood the consequences for not doing so! Then as that generation passed...the future generations became spenders again. It would benefit everyone to know their personal finance so that people can generate their own wealth rather than depend on the gov't to support them. It is a huge money sinkhole to try to support people financially (such as unemployment checks) when you can teach them how to build wealth. If you argue that unemployment checks are necessary, please understand that if you give people such a backup plan, then they will more likely fall back on the backup plan than to go the extra mile to build value or discover their strengths.

Of course, you cannot control how anyone spends their money. The education should be sufficient, though, so that they are aware of their options and available strategies.
If the subject is to be taught in schools, though, the teacher had better know what he/she's talking about! I do not meet enough people (even my last personal finance teacher in college) who know how to manage their money and live on debt or paycheck to paycheck. The personal finance teacher had better be wealthy, otherwise the students will be learning from the wrong person! :)

Of course, the library and internet allow us to study for ourselves. I've spent weeks researching how to invest in the market, and I have worked my way up to saving 30% of my paycheck for Roth IRA and Mutual fund investments! Many people are just not interested or confident enough to do the research, or maybe people don't even realize their financial situation is a huge problem! It would probably benefit the country as a whole if everyone was exposed to some kind of personal finance class before graduating high school.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Awesome response Kris! Thanks for taking the time to give such an in depth answer! I am in complete agreement that if personal finance is taught in schools, the teachers better be extremely financially savvy. It would not be good to have the blind leading the blind when it comes to finances.

Guest's picture
kristine

Yes. Financial literacy is essential for a functioning society. If half the rubes who took on ARMs had any financial education on how interest works, most would never have gone for the bait. But it will be an uphill battle- look for banks and credit cards to lobby against it- an ignorant populace means more money for them.

As far as teacher not being qualified: teachers do not teach math, english, or anything via instinct. They are educated and trained. Teachers can learn and train in this subject, just like any other.

As far as teachers not having time-build it in at first as an elective, not a requirement. Then change health class to "well being" class, and include fiscal health along with physical health. Or teach it home and careers.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Yes, I think it should be taught. I wish it had been part of the required curriculum when I was in school!

Guest's picture
T

I believe that it should be taught in schools. In addition to learning to balance a checkbook, like most schools seem to be teaching, the ramifications for NOT paying your bills on time or NOT being able to manage debt should also be considered for the appropriate age level. I seem to be hearing recent grads that are attending college believe that once they stop going to college they do not have to pay back their student loans if they did not complete their degree. Eeeeks! It appears that if they physically do not have the money in hand it may be difficult to conceptualize the amount of debt they will be in or have to manage later on. The concept is we are all aware of how to get into debt but managing it is the trickiest part.

Guest's picture
Nanette Hardison

I know for a fact that my chances of being successful at saving and budgeting would have been better had I been taught personal finance in school so I am all in favor of teaching personal finance throughout all of the grades in school.

Guest's picture
Elizabeth

Yes, it should be taught. I learned how to balance a checkbook in 5th grade math, but I never learned how to calculate the effects of interest until I took a class on project economics (not personal finance) in college.

Guest's picture
Heidi

You bet personal finance should be taught in the schools! Early signs of self-control in children are good predictors of future health and success in life. (See my blog post about the "marshmallow test" on pocketchangebook.com.) So anything we can do to enhance children's ability to exercise financial self-control is warranted! Thank you for your blog post. It's an important topic to discuss.

Guest's picture
FRANK

Personal Finance is taught in schools as an elective class in many high schools. However, the psychological / marketing part of spending money is not taught in most schools. Therefore, we need to not only give the kids an introduction to managing money, but also an entire overview of the art of buying and selling. Unfortunately, this is not considered as important as Math, Reading, English, Social Studies, and the Fine Arts. Thus, you will not see change anytime soon in schools. The parent is ultimately going to be responsible.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

YES! My daughter's high school offers an Economics of Living course as an elective. I made it mandatory for her. I think it should be a mandatory course for all American high school students to take in order to graduate! Nobody needs to know what pi is, but everybody needs to know APR, FICA, and FICO are!

Guest's picture
jennifer

My father was an awful spender. When I was a kid my father took me shopping all of the time, it was something we both enjoyed, no matter the consequence. I remember after of day of shopping my mother and father always argued. Apparently my dad did'nt have the spendable cash but was charging everything to one of his many credit cards. When I got to college and I was approached about my opening my own credit card, my heart started beating fast and my mind started racing. All I could think of was all those little boutiques that I passed on the way to class.
Soon after college my father passed away leaving my mother with an enormous debt, most of it she was unaware of.
I was never given an allowance when I was younger, I was never tought how to manage my money and I was certaintly never taught how to save.
A part of a child's learning is molded by their environment. If I had some sort of schooling on spending and budgeting in the classroom it would have at least given me a different perspective then what I was exposed to in my home environment.

Guest's picture
Kathleen Langdon

One of the benefits of having personal finance added to curriculum,would be to teach the difference between the ideas of WANTS andNEEDS---establish a list of priorities,budgeting and living within your means.

Guest's picture
Kathleen Langdon

One of the benefits of having personal finance added to curriculum,would be to teach the difference between the ideas of WANTS andNEEDS---establish a list of priorities,budgeting and living within your means.

Guest's picture
Alicia C

YES!!! I wish I had been required to learn this stuff in school. The problem I foresee, though, is that (like many other things) all the bureaucracy will cause these types of classes to: 1) confuse students, and 2) be totally ineffective. If they could creatively figure out a way to teach these things, then I would be all for it. Maybe give kids fake money, bills, options for credit cards, a website to "buy" whatever they want, etc.

Guest's picture
Danielle

YES! Personal finance should definitely be taught in all schools. School is meant to educate and prepare students for the world and for life, regardless of the level, why would personal finance be something the education system would feel like leaving out, I'm sure if the majority of the population had a better understanding of how to balance a check-up or what interests rate were, we wouldn't be in half the debt we are in now, personal and national! It should be a topic in all levels, a requirement in High School like health and gym, and a basic course in College especially!