Waiting on the *High Schools* to Change

by | Feb 9, 2018 | Financial Planning

As John Mayer says in his hit song ‘Waiting on the World to Change’:

“One day our generation is gonna rule the population.” download 16

He might not have been talking about my generation, or the younger generation specifically, but it still holds true for ANY generation.

One day, these younger generations are going to grow up, and need to make financial decisions that will affect not only their lives, but quite possibly YOUR lives as well.

Now let me ask you a question.

If these kids are going to be running the world one day, wouldn’t you think it’s a GOOD idea to educate them on the importance of personal finance?

Yes?  That’s what I thought.

Well, guess what?  Currently, the United States is doing a bad job of educating the younger generations.

According to a recent CNBC article, “Financial Education Stalls, Threatening Kids’ Future Economic Health”, only 17 states in the country require high school students to take a personal finance course.  Only 22 states require that a personal finance course be offered in high school.  That means 28 states in this country do not require a personal finance course to even be offered!  That is an abomination. Screen Shot 2018 02 07 at 9.37.13 AM

In a recent “Living With Money” podcast, Tom and I discuss the importance of student loans, and taking time at school seriously if you have loans.

How can high school graduates be expected to fully understand the impact of those student loans on their financial lives after college if they’re not educated on the matter BEFORE deciding to take on the loans?

Every tax season I scroll through Instagram and see memes like the one below saying “I’m really glad I was forced to learn about parallelograms instead of how to do taxes.  It’s really come in handy this parallelogram season!”

sage boggs atsageboggs im glad i learned about parallelograms instead of how to do taxes its really come in handy this parallelogram season rS43D

While the meme itself is meant for comedy, the underlying problem with what it’s addressing is no laughing matter.

Kids are forced to learn about plant and animal cells in science class every year in high school.

Let’s be honest, if you’re not going to become some sort of scientist, when are you EVER going to need to know that information?

Let’s be even MORE honest.  Regardless of your profession, EVERY SINGLE PERSON will deal with money EVERY SINGLE DAY of their lives.  Why would a class teaching kids how to properly use their money NOT be a mandatory requirement?

I don’t mean to pick on plant cells and parallelograms, but the point still remains.  We NEED to start requiring high school students to take personal finance courses.

In the same CNBC article, a report from Champlain College displayed the results from a survey done to measure states’ effectiveness is producing financially literate high school graduates.

Only FIVE states received an A grade – Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia – while 30% of states received either a D or F grade.

That is unacceptable.

With more and more students taking on more and more student loan debt, the need to educate these students on the importance of financial stability is greater than ever.

We are setting these generations up for failure.  More and more students are emerging from high school and college completely unaware of how to handle their finances.  More and more young adults are drowning themselves in debt and loans, with no knowledge of how to dig themselves out.

So what is the solution?

Apart from imploring more states to require their high school students to take these classes, parents can take action.  Having conversations with your kids about money is not only a good idea, it’s a GREAT idea!  It can start from a young age as well.

In a previous “Living With Money” podcast, Justin Castelli of RLS Wealth Management told us how he has begun discussing money with his young boys.  Both of his boy are less than ten years of age, and yet he has begun teaching them the importance of a budget and saving their money.

“They have a savings account and they put money from Christmas in there. If they want to buy a movie on Apple TV or they want to buy a video game they know they have to take money from their savings and they get to make that decision, “Well, do I want to actually spend my money or do I want to keep it?”” – Justin Castelli

We can’t expect these younger generations to make sound financial decisions if we don’t supply them with a solid financial foundation to build on.

The numbers in the CNBC article above are simply unacceptable, and hopefully over the coming years we see those numbers improve.  It will benefit not only their generation, but YOUR generation, and future generations to come.

In the meantime, feel free to stop over at Living With Money to find useful, educational episodes packed with personal finance tips!

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