Producing Financially Literate Kids Is Becoming A Priority In US Schools… And I Say It’s About Time Personal Finance Is A Requirement
Are you financially literate? Maybe you are now, depending on how old you are and how much time you spent developing your personal finance skills.
But were you financially literate when you graduated high school?
Probably not, because you were never TAUGHT about personal finance.
Luckily, more and more states in the U.S. are passing legislation making personal finance a requirement. And I think producing financially literate kids is a great idea.
“Nearly half the states already mandate such instruction, and more states could pass legislation this year to make sure students, particularly those at the high school level, have it before they graduate.”
My question is… what’s taken so long for this to become a priority?
You Are, And Always Have Been,
Your Own Financial Manager
At some point in your life, you come into possession of money that is yours. And since it is yours, you have to decide what to do with it. From that moment on… you are your own financial manager.
All the money that has come into your possession from that moment on was your responsibility to manage.
- You decided when and how you would spend it.
- You decided when and if you would save it.
- And you decided when and if you would invest it.
In a way, being your own financial manager is your first job, and one you’ll continue to keep for a lifetime. So, you would think you would receive personal finance training from a very early age and consistently throughout your life.
But you would be wrong.
This means most people are never properly trained to perform their first, and possibly most important, job. Oh yes, they got all the responsibility and were expected to manage their money correctly. And yes, they feel the real world consequences when they do it wrong.
But nobody really took the time to TEACH us about personal finance and what we should do with our money if we want lifelong financial security.
No wonder so many people reach an older age and realize (maybe too late), that they are not on a path that leads to financial security.
Was Your Lack Of Personal Finance Training
An Oversight, Or Planned
When you look at it, it’s bewildering that training on becoming financially literate was sadly lacking from our education. Was this just an important life skill that slipped through the cracks, or is there something more sinister going on here?
One argument for not teaching personal finance in schools is because many people believe financial education is the responsibility of parents.
“Some parents say it is their responsibility, not the schools’, to teach their kids about money. But few are doing the work, and many parents have not had sufficient personal finance education themselves.”
Learning something as important as personal finance from someone with no education on the topic really is the issue, isn’t it?
If it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids to be financially literate, and the parents themselves never were taught personal finance… then what caliber of training do you expect the parents to provide?
Yea, no beneficial training at all. Very low caliber personal finance education. Or worse, teachings that lead to devastating money mistakes.
My thoughts on why kids are not taught to be financially literate are a little more sinister. And I want to be clear, this is just my opinion…
It seems the only people that would benefit from keeping the vast majority of people from becoming financially literate are employers who want you bound to your job. I mean, if you spend every penny you make (and more), then you’ll ever be in the position to leave the workforce.
It reminds me of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. In the book, Robert Kiyosaki explains the financial education he received from two different sources.
The education on money he received from his “poor dad” would have led to him being poor. But the education he received from his “rich dad” reveals the path to wealth.
Do the rich want to keep the financial education that leads to wealth in their exclusive group at the top of the financial food chain?
Anyway, I’m left with this…
The reasons for not teaching children to be financially literate in schools are either…
- The parents, who were never taught personal finance and who are probably managing their finances poorly, are responsible for teaching their children to be financially literate, so we don’t provide it in the curriculum.
- Sinisterly, kids are not taught to be financially literate on purpose so they won’t be prepared to manage their money and constantly struggle with money which makes them slaves to their employment.
Either way you look at, personal finance education that leads to financially literate kids should be a priority, and has been missing for too long. I’m glad to see the schools, at least in some states, are making personal finance a requirement.
The Consequences Of Leaving High School
Without Being Financially Literate
Lusardi, Annamaria. (2019). Financial literacy and the need for financial education: evidence and implications. Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics. 155. 1. 10.1186/s41937-019-0027-5.
These numbers make it clear what is going on.
Only 13% of 18-24 year old’s are financially literate. Keep in mind, as we discussed earlier, 100% of 18-24 year old’s are their own financial managers. But only 13% are educated in what it means to manage their personal finances.
The highest percentage of financial literacy happens between ages 70-74. Wow. Talk about showing up late to the party.
So, why does this matter?
Not being financially literate at an early age matters because if you search on the Internet for advice on how to retire with enough money, you’ll most likely get some variation of this…
Start saving and investing for your retirement early (in your 20’s),
get 6-8% interest compounded over the next 40-50 years…
and you should have enough money to retire comfortably.
Are you starting to see the big problem here?
By the time you become financially literate enough to know you should be investing for your retirement… it’s most likely already too late to do what the “personal finance experts” propose.
And that is assuming you are one of the minority that becomes financially literate AT ALL throughout your life.
In short, not being financially literate out of high school means you’ll be lacking the financial knowledge and personal finance skills you need to understand the importance of investing at an early age. And your future self will suffer for it.
How You Can Make Up For Lost Time
Once I realized I was not on the path to financial security, I started researching what I could do about it. And sadly, as I mentioned above, most of the “solutions” I found would require a Time Machine so I could go back to my 20’s and start investing.
I don’t have a Time Machine.
The only way I can make up for lost time is to put money to work to accumulate wealth faster by outperforming the returns of other investment opportunities.
So, if you are getting a late start like I did, and you want to make up for lost time, you can do what I do.
To Your Wealth,