Who is Responsible for Teaching Financial Literacy?

In a debt ridden world individuals find themselves constantly worrying about their financial situation. An extensive survey done by PWC focused on the millennial generation and their understanding of financial literacy. The results were absolutely shocking. Here are some of the most jaw dropping statistics from the survey:

  • 24% of millennials can understand basic financial concepts
    • Only 8% understand the importance of higher level financial literacy topics such as inflation and risk diversification
  • 20% of millennials take loans out of their retirement accounts
  • 30% of millennials overdraw their checking account
  • 42% of millennials use Alternative Financial Services (AFS) and have no clue what these really are
  • 50% of millennials believe they cannot come up with $2,000 dollars if an emergency happened in the next month

I’m not sure what you are thinking right now but these statistics are absolutely astounding. In a generation where there is an abundance of information online, for free, the technological generation seems to not use it.

Based on the stats above, it is clear that something needs to be done. Financial literacy does not only help individuals raise their standard of living but it also has the potential to improve the economy of a country.

From a macro perspective, financial literacy will reduce debt default thus reducing the bad debt expense of companies. Less expenses result in higher income and hence more profit for companies which inevitably leads to an increase in government revenues. If used properly, this can help increase the overall quality of life in a country.

In recognition of financial literacy month this April, let’s answer this pertinent question… “Who is responsible for teaching financial literacy?”

Below are five effective options:

  • Schools (K-12)
  • Politicians
  • Universities
  • Parents
  • Individuals

Many of the facts below are from the 2016 Survey of the States.

Schools

Schools have the fiduciary duty to educate individuals of all ages. But is it their duty to teach personal skills? Currently there are only 17 states that require students to take a high school course in personal finance. While everybody is not interested in business, personal finance affects everybody’s life. Survey of the States argues that schools need to include financial literacy in their curriculum from kindergarten all the way through high school.

The organization has developed interactive games for students to better understand personal finance. If you would like to learn more about financial literacy teaching tools, refer to Retirement Savvy where James discusses software called Dollar Adventure which was developed by Frenel and Jamal from ignov8.com.

My thoughts:

The concept of financial literacy was foreign to me in school as it was not in our curriculum. I believe personal finance should be taught at the high school level where students can be introduced to concepts such as investing, debt management and other money management skills.

Politicians

Politicians can impact the education content of the schools within their jurisdiction. 99% of adults agree that personal finance should be taught in high school but there are two major hurdles:

  1. Only 20% of teachers feel comfortable teaching the subject
  2. Many schools are already underfunded

These challenges pose a major obstacle for educational institutions. The cost needed to train and hire teachers will be enormous as well as take a long period of time. There are long-term benefits to this project though. Financially literate individuals are less likely to default on their loans, more likely to save, and be more rational buyers. This can benefit the government by reducing their expenses on social programs as less citizens will require government support.

My view:

Just like an organization, a tone at the top is needed to increase the awareness of financial literacy. Whether it comes from government or state regulation, I think financial literacy needs to be stressed in today’s society.

Universities

Universities have the resources to teach students personal finance at higher levels. Many of the professors are amply educated and are capable of teaching personal finance. A large number of universities offer these courses to their students as they see the need for teaching valuable life skills. There are many universities that actually offer a financial planning major which allow their students to become Certified Financial Planners (CFP). The need is growing and universities have the capabilities of teaching their students the skills at the highest level.

What I think:

I had my first personal finance course just over a year ago during my senior year in college. Instead of taking a high level accounting course I opted into the “easy” elective and I am glad I did. I learnt skills that set me onto the path of financial freedom. The course placed a heavy emphasis on investing and understanding different ways of money management. Some of the topics included: budgeting, emergency plans, mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, CDs, and bonds. I think universities should tackle personal finance at a higher level to make us all financially savvy. Schools should help their students understand the basic concepts of personal finance while universities teach high level financial literacy classes. I would strongly recommend anybody who attends a university that offers these courses to take just at least one. It will change the way you think forever.

Parents

Parents are at the forefront of the battle on personal finance. They have the ability to instill crucial qualities into their children at a young age that can carry them through life. Unfortunately, only 28% of parents are willing to talk to their children about financial matters.

Kids have the ability to understand basic concepts from as early as five years old. Starting to educate children from a young age is one of the most underutilized practices undertaken by parents. Parents need to recognize that the lessons they teach their children can impact the way they handle their financial responsibilities for the rest of their lives.

Some tips for parents with kids:

  • Give an allowance – Provide them with either cash or a prepaid debit card (one that cannot be overdrawn). Have a conversation with your child for mutual agreement on a predetermined date for replenishment of funds (weekly, fortnightly, or monthly). This will quickly teach the lesson of budgeting and money allocation.
  • Match system – I recommend only doing this with smaller children as they will have less money. Tell them if they invest in a stock or put money into a savings account you will match a certain percent of it. This will get them in the habit of saving so they will understand how a 401(k) works.
  • Money does not grow on trees – I am sure this phrase has been said countless times to many of us. Teach your kids where money comes from and that most parents only make a fixed amount per month. Depending on your child’s age, reveal the different areas that money is spent on a regular basis.
  • Pay them to do chores – I do not mean pay them for the basic responsibilities expected of them (clean their room, wash their dishes, and basic family chores). Suggest extra ways they can make money by doing chores outside their domain as a child.

What I did:

I never realized the values my parent instilled in me until I matured. Simple things such as giving me an allowance for the week or cash to go out with friends made me learn the skill of budgeting. I will always remember the time I made a decision as a child to buy a stereo. I wanted one because I felt like it was the popular item at the time even though they were expensive. I did chores for weeks and kept getting paid until I finally saved up enough money. Did I buy the stereo? No… Let me tell you why. I never realized how long it would have taken to save up the amount of money needed to buy this big item. In addition to that, I did not want to see my bank account diminish to $0 to purchase something that I honestly would not have used for very long.

The individual

Last but not least is the individual person. There are thousands of websites, books, and videos that can teach people about personal finance. The key word in that sentence though is can. It is ultimately up to an individual to make a commitment to learning these crucial skills. Anybody can learn personal finance but nobody can help you achieve financial freedom except yourself.

My thoughts:

Everybody is in control of their own life. While individuals are responsible for learning these crucial skills it is unfair to penalize people who are not even aware of financial literacy. The average person worries about making ends meet, not being financially literate. While they have the ability to learn about this topic, I think it needs to be made aware to them so they can have the opportunity to change their financial path.

Final thoughts:

[yop_poll id=”3″]

What did you vote for? Why? Are there other influencers you believe I left out? Let me know below in the comments.

 

 

 

82 comments… add one
  • James Apr 24, 2016, 1:36 pm

    From my perspective, Ideally it would start in the home. Unfortunately however, because of the problem of financial illiteracy in this country, it’s likely that many parents don’t have the knowledge to effectively pass along personal finance philosophies and practices … good ones anyway. That is where schools come in. I would love to see more school districts make Personal Finance part of their standards – from which curriculums are developed – putting it on the same level as English, Math, Social Studies, etc.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 24, 2016, 1:53 pm

      I agree with you, the quality of financial literacy is lower than many think so they may instill bad practices in their children. Schools definitely have the ability to solving this problem but it will take a period of time before they are able to do it effectively. I think making people aware of what financial literacy is will also be key. People discover these skills too late in life and are forced to retire later etc.

    • Josh Apr 24, 2016, 2:05 pm

      Totally agree it should start at home, but the parents themselves are often useless with money. So while it should start there, we can’t rely on it.
      School should be preparing kids for life and jobs, but they seem incapable of doing that (I’m from Australia, same deal here). Finance should certainly be a part of the mid level education that everyone is expected to complete. I’d definitely go so far as to say it should be a top core skill: Literacy, numeracy, financial literacy, computer literacy. Every one of those is needed for life.

    • Froogal Stoodent Jun 19, 2016, 11:49 pm

      I agree with your assessment. Parents SHOULD teach good money skills, but many parents wouldn’t give their kids good advice. Therefore, it makes sense to teach some basic financial literacy at the high school level (which is around the same time that kids usually start working at their first job, so it’s a good time for them to be receptive to learning this stuff instead of ignoring it).

    • DeAnna K. Aug 26, 2016, 9:23 pm

      I too agree with you. My parents struggled with financial literacy all their lives, they would not have made good teachers. However when I was in high school in the late 70s I was fortunate enough to take a class called Money 101. It started me on the path of financial literacy, which has helped me be financially responsible, thriving and living within my means my whole life. I would highly recommend a similar course of action!

  • Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog Apr 24, 2016, 2:02 pm

    I think university is a good venue to teach personal finance because people who elect to take the classes will be highly engaged and willing to learn/make changes. Unfortunately, a lot of parents these days are not in the best financial situations themselves and don’t have the knowledge to teach their kids. I learned a lot about personal finance from my parents’ mistakes.

    • Josh Apr 24, 2016, 2:08 pm

      I think university is too late. These people are 18+ and already needing the financial skills. As well as this, many people won’t go to university, and won’t pick this class. (I think University should be targeted study for a chosen field, not containing generic courses like that.) In addition to this, by having it option we have the issue that people who need this information most aren’t looking for it. That’s the key reason we have this issue in the first place.

      • Stefan Sharpe Apr 24, 2016, 2:43 pm

        Universities are great to teach it at a high level but many non-business majors will not be inclined to take these courses unless they have been exposed to the topic.

        Schools have the ability to teach personal finance but I personally never learnt anything about personal finance during my K-12 years.

        Sadly many parents do not even have their finances in order so they cannot teach their children these skills properly. Breaking the trend will be the hardest part.

      • James Apr 24, 2016, 8:07 pm

        Agreed. Advanced financial education should take place at the secondary and postsecondary levels while the most basic concepts (e.g. savings, budgeting) should start at the primary or elementary levels

      • Dan L Oct 12, 2016, 8:55 am

        Do American colleges and universities have an interest in teaching personal financial skills when a great deal of their revenues come from students that often borrow more money via student loans than they can feasibly pay back? Additionally, most faculty lack the skills to teach such a course, given that many of them completed their education without any formal coursework in financial literacy.

  • Distilled Dollar Apr 24, 2016, 4:14 pm

    Wow, what a tough debate and a difficult question, and one we should absolutely be talking about more as a society!

    You make a great point that schools CAN teach basic financial literacy courses, but you also bring up an excellent counter point that teacher’s DON’T feel comfortable with the material. I haven’t had time to dig in to this topic, so I wonder if there are stories of teachers who felt uncomfortable in the first few lessons, but figured it out relatively quickly and ended up being glad they started teaching about basic financial topics.

    My university had a similar class and I was actually signed up, before I realized I had already hit my 150 hours needed to sit for my CPA exams. At that point, I was tempted to take the class, but I knew the cost of the class could be made up by taking 1% of the class’s tuition cost and investing in books to read and taking the time I would have used on homework/papers to reach out and talk to some successful personal finance friends.

    As for parents, I’m always shocked when I see such a low % of parents willing to talk about money with their children. The way I see it, parents teach nearly all financial habits to their children, but they do it through their actions more often than through their words. If the parents buy fancy cars, or new clothes each season, or the latest gadgets…guess what, the kid is likely going to follow that same pattern of behavior!

    I learned early on that financially successful people are willing to talk about money because there is no stress associated with money. I think this is one of the reasons they become more successful is because they openly discuss what their doing with their money and others can point out mistakes along the road.

    “It is ultimately up to an individual to make a commitment,” and I couldn’t agree more since this is what I voted for.

    As you mentioned, once someone becomes AWARE of the possibilities from learning about financial independence — when they are able to step outside of the matrix — can they then take actions to better their financial situation through savings, budgets, investments, etc.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this post!

  • Stefan Sharpe Apr 24, 2016, 5:39 pm

    Appreciate the time you took to leave these comments. I find it very interesting that you say the individual as many people default to educational institutions/parents. The hardest part about individuals making these life changes is that they need to be exposed to the issue first. Unless people are exposed to the topic they will not even know that is exist. In your case you knew about the topic and desired to learn more. I feel once the topic is exposed then the individual becomes responsible.

  • Derek Apr 24, 2016, 7:59 pm

    I voted for parents because they have they are responsible for their kids. The biggest problem is the education parents themselves have on the topic.
    Politicians also have the ability to influence this “crisis” but I do not think it is very high on the political agenda.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 2:58 am

      Agreed, not sure this is high on the political agenda but it definitely can impact the economy. Learning basic skills will go a long way for many.

  • Stan Apr 25, 2016, 12:00 am

    I voted for schools because I know many parents cannot teach, nor care to teach, their kids these skills. It really is a shame that parents do not invest in their kids future like they should. Hopefully these times can change. Really enjoyed your article it was very insightful!

  • Kathy Apr 25, 2016, 12:55 am

    Nice article, it was comprehensive and had great tips. Coming from a low income family I learnt how to budget from a very young age more from necessity. However, I never went through school learning anything about personal finance and had to teach myself it. This is why I voted for individual!

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 2:57 am

      Congrats on breaking the trend. Many people will adapt the habits their parents had!

  • Marilyn Apr 25, 2016, 1:00 am

    I never heard about personal finance until university. It actually started with a friend during my sophomore year that got me interested in the topic. I took a course my junior year and like you said, it changed the way I thought forever. I became very conscious of my spending habits and how I save. I would urge everybody to take a course. Hope more people get to read this article!

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 2:56 am

      University definitely helps to learn personal finance at a higher level. I learnt so much in the span of four months. Many of the skills I am sure we will both carry through our lives. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Frank Facts Apr 25, 2016, 2:07 am

    I do think a lot of this starts at home, with parents. But that’s often hard for kids from lower income backgrounds. Schools can make up for it, but only somewhat. On a slightl different note: I’m dubious that these numbers would be that much better for other generations! I’m not sure this is just a millennial problem. 🙂

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 2:54 am

      I gave the millennial facts just to tie into my theme. This article was meant for every generation. I agree that everything should start at home but like I said in the article it has unfair to criticize lower income families as this is the least of their worries.

  • Richard at DIY Money Mastery Apr 25, 2016, 4:12 am

    The more widely personal finance is understood, the less favourably we will look upon those organisations who exist only to lend it to us, or at least, at their ‘live your dreams’ sales pitch. I think unless it’s taught from the top (government, then passing down into education) it will be far too easy for people to fall into debt, because nothing is done about the organisations who help them get there.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 1:30 pm

      The government definitely has the widest reach out of all the options. Time will be a major factor and level of priority however.

  • The Green Swan Apr 25, 2016, 12:16 pm

    I voted parents, teaching personal finance should start young for kids and parents need to take responsibility for raising their children. If parents don’t think they have the skills to start teaching kids good money habits then read a couple books on how to raise financially literate kids.

    I think parents need to get them off on the right foot and then hopefully schools can pick it up to teach more detailed personal finance lessons.

    Thanks for the great post!

    The Green Swan

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 1:34 pm

      Parents can lay the ground work to teach the basics and let the schools handle the higher level stuff. It will be very easy to do research on the topic whether it is through the internet or purchasing books. It really boils down to motivation and wanting to better their life as well as their children.

  • Michael Apr 25, 2016, 2:49 pm

    Excellent post, Stefan! Personal finance education should start at home when children are young. I spend time talking to my 9 year old about money and she understands it.

    Secondly, it should be part of the high school curriculum. How much to spend on college education is one of the first major personal finance decisions high school kids will be making. They are not equipped with the knowledge to make the right choices today.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 3:27 pm

      Thanks for the comment Michael. You are absolutely correct that finance education should start at home. Kids often emulate their parents at young ages so it is important to show them good habits.

      Your daughter is lucky that you know about personal finance and that you are part of the 28% that takes the time to educate her!

      Choosing which college to attend is a problem for high school students. They need to understand the cost of debt and if that debt is worth it. Appreciate you stopping by!

  • Pamela Apr 25, 2016, 8:25 pm

    Parents and the school system need to be at the forefront of teaching financial literacy to the younger generation. It should start at home and be enforced in the schools.
    When we send our kids to school, teachers expect them to have their teeth brushed, their hair clean and have generally good hygiene. No teacher would say “oh how wonderful that you brushed your teeth today” to their students. its expected. We need to get to this level with personal finance. The parents teach the fundamentals and the teachers enforce it. I understand as parents we may feel inadequate, but kids will pic up your money habits anyway, why not make them good ones. Plus, it just confirms that you are human too.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 10:54 pm

      Hey Pamela I like how you laid our your response. Schools expects the basic skills from kids when they attend school and personal finance should be no different. Even if parents can instill the basic skills in their children it will set them apart from the rest. Nobody expects a child to understand how the stock market works or complicated financial literacy topics. Let the schools teach them those concepts while parents do the basics. Simple concepts go a very long way!

  • Financial Slacker Apr 25, 2016, 10:28 pm

    I’m a believer that education starts in the home. Whether it’s reading to a small child, encouraging older children to read on their own, or having your children work math problems on Khan Academy, it can be relatively easy for parents and the benefits are extraordinary.

    Personal finance is the same way. We pay our children an allowance and a portion of that allowance goes to pay for things such as their cell phone bill. And if they want to upgrade their phone, they can use their own money.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 25, 2016, 10:57 pm

      You are definitely passing on great skills to your children. Showing them the value of money and making them work for upgrades or wants instead of needs is important. Learning the value of money and the time it takes to afford items is crucial. Allowances are a great way to teach them budgeting!

  • Apathy Ends Apr 25, 2016, 11:23 pm

    I am going to cheat and would like to put 25% on parents, 25% on Education (both K-12 and University) and 50% on the individual.

    Parents should have the main role in educating their children about personal finance, but with dismal savings rates in every age group I can see why this often falls through the cracks. I also think that money is an off limits topic in most households – which clouds the area even further.

    Where parents leave off, schools should pick up (or reinforce) personal finance basics. I wrote about the “money lessons” I learned from grade school and only one of them was positive. Even in college we were not taught about money – I wish it would become a requirement in freshmen year, I didnt even understand the loans I was taking out.

    Like you mention, ultimately the individual is responsible, and even though missing the first 50% can cause some early pain (student loan debt for me) you can rebound quickly if you are willing to sacrifice.

    Great post – one of my favorite topics!

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 26, 2016, 1:23 am

      Thanks for the feedback! There is no right or wrong category here and quite frankly it will take more than one to solve the issue. Parents and school can certainly influence individuals but like you said it is their responsibility. Nobody can chose what to do with their life except the person. I think even exposing the topic to people can have a great impact on their life so they can at least understand their expenses, debt, etc.

      Appreciate you stopping by.

  • EarnSmart App Apr 26, 2016, 12:48 am

    Thanks for sharing the statistics Stefan — really interesting and pretty alarming. Especially that 1/4 understand basic financial concepts and a full 50% don’t think they could come up with $2K in an emergency!

    Learning financial literacy in college is an excellent start, but I think the basics should absolutely be taught in high school. Understanding basic financial principles is crucial to navigating adulthood successfully. And because ~30% of high school graduates don’t end up attending college, if we wait we risk continuing to send a large percentage of the population into the real world unprepared.

    A quick Google Search returned the following result.. shocking how few states require high schools to teach their students about money! http://on.mktw.net/1M4dM9t

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 26, 2016, 1:29 am

      Thanks for stopping by! As I said in earlier comments I believe financial literacy should be taught at a basic level by parents and then at a higher level in high school as many students need to understand the terms of their loans!

      You bring up a good point that many high school children don’t even attend college which I did not consider. This makes it even more important to teach at this stage. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  • Bill @ The Money Professors Apr 26, 2016, 4:16 am

    Great question… And I don’t think there is one answer. Ultimately everything is the responsibility of the individual. It is a matter of making it a priority. But I agree that they first need to be made aware of it. I am a huge proponent of educating the educators. More resources are needed to train teachers. Very few people in general feel comfortable about their own personal finances and therefore don’t feel like they are qualified to teach others. We could really change lives by starting with the education of our teachers so they can deliver quality personal finance instruction.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 26, 2016, 7:21 pm

      Exactly! Unless the issue is made aware people have no way of knowing what to do. The average person will just continue to live their life the way it currently is. While everybody needs to be educated I believe that educating future generations will have the biggest impact. Train teachers to educate them and things will radically change in the future.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money Apr 26, 2016, 10:35 pm

    This is really interesting stuff! Just bookmarked the study. I voted parents. When you look at teenagers and 20-somethings who are financially literate it’s almost always due to parents. Yes, there are exceptions, but parents have the best opportunity to teach children financial literacy.

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 27, 2016, 12:06 am

      It was a great study that offered a wealth of information. Parents have the most impact on a child’s life. If they teach their children this would never be a problem. However, many parents themselves are not financially literate which makes this an issue. Thanks for stopping by DC.

  • Millennial Boss Apr 28, 2016, 2:35 am

    I just participated in a volunteer event through work where we went into schools and taught financial literacy. I think the best way to teach financial literacy is through experience and actually doing it. I had no idea what I was doing with my first paycheck and have learned over time. I don’t know if I trust universities to do it because the cost of college is ridiculous now. Thinking back did I really need all the pizza and free t-shirts that they give out?

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 28, 2016, 3:55 pm

      I would not go to university to learn about personal finance unless I am becoming a Certified Financial Planner. I kind of just took it to fill an elective course and I loved it. Learning from experiences is a great way to learn. The individual needs to learn what works for them and what doesn’t. There is no blueprint to being successful.

  • Latoya @ Life and a Budget Apr 29, 2016, 2:41 am

    You know Stefan, I’ve never given this that much thought before because I automatically assumed that it should be the parents responsibility, but after reading this I found myself with a question. If the parents are responsible for teaching their kids about financial literacy, who is going to teach the parents?!

    Obviously, lessons need to start at school and I would say as early as grade school because everyone doesn’t go to college and some people barely get through high school. Lessons about money affect everyone, so ultimately that led me to say that everyone should be responsible for teaching financial literacy.

    To make up for what is lacking now, I believe that everyone needs to come together and make sure everyone has equal access to resources available to learn. The information on the internet is free, but what about those who can’t afford the internet or pricey smartphone plans? They could go to the library, but like you said, they are more than likely more concerned with making ends meet.

    The problem needs to be addressed and the battle is only beginning, but once we recognize the responsibility falls on everyone and stop shifting the blame for the lack of financial literacy Americans exhibit, then we will be able to make progress.

    This is an awesome post and I thank you for giving me something to think about:)

    • Stefan Sharpe Apr 29, 2016, 3:28 am

      Latoya, thanks for the response! I am glad that I made you think about this crucial topic. I agree with your point that placing the blame on one segment does not solve anything. This only delays the process of solving the issue at hand. Sadly I do not think this topic is high on the priority list of many. Hopefully in the near future people will realize the benefit of being financially literate and make a conscious effort to educate those around them. It will take a collective effort to solve the issue and I look forward to seeing how it will be accomplished.

  • Moe May 3, 2016, 1:17 pm

    Great post, financial literacy is really important. I think schools should teach the basics.

  • Dave May 3, 2016, 4:45 pm

    Hi stefan,

    Wonderful post! I like the different points you identified where people could learn these important skills. Any time someone is able to pick up personal financial skills it will benefit them, but I really believe that the most effective place to start is to have parental guidance and support from an early age. (I liked the ways you listed that parents can help children here). As children, our parents have more influence over us then any other people. Learning financial skills from within the family makes it much more likely to stick and become a lifelong habit.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:34 pm

      Hey Dave, I agree that parents shape their kids. I think that parents who understand finances will be able to instill these values into their children. Otherwise it may just make the problem worse quite honestly.

  • Sophia May 3, 2016, 6:31 pm

    I also think that it is the changing of time. You use to have to write checks, balance your check book, and things of that nature. It made people more aware of how much they were spending and how much they had in their accounts. Now, people just swipe a card and spend. They are not use to keeping track of how much money is coming out or coming in.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:34 pm

      Sophia this is a great point you make. Tracking money is actually easier than it used to be but we do not bother to check our apps or computers to see what is going on with the finances.

  • Channing May 3, 2016, 7:51 pm

    Thought-provoking post!

  • FiFever May 4, 2016, 1:13 pm

    I learned about finances from two places.

    1. My parents – modest widwestern folks who had good values but was incredibly basic.

    2. Reddit – I’ve found a lot of good information, as well as a ton of bad information. As long as you vet what you see in places like r/financialindependence and r/personalfinance you can actually learn a lot of new things.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:35 pm

      Reddit is a great source for personal finance info! I actually got some tips for a previous article from there as there is an abundance of data on that site.

  • Kevin May 5, 2016, 2:43 pm

    I think it involves everyone participate, obviously. But if I were to choose one I think it needs to be in school. The parents themselves aren’t financially literate so they may not be the best teachers. Money matters should be taught in schools.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:36 pm

      Schools are a great place Kevin it will just a while to implement in the school system. But it will help future generations!

  • Gary @ Super Saving Tips May 7, 2016, 4:25 am

    Good evaluation of the options. In my mind, ideally parents would start teaching their children financial literacy at an early age, schools (driven by government) would then pick it up, and those who take it at college would get a more intensive financial education. Finally, the motivated individual would continue to pursue it on their own. Unfortunately, as others have said, I think many parents simply don’t have enough financial literacy themselves, and schools seem ill-prepared to handle the subject. The result is that many individuals never obtain the level of financial literacy they should, or do so only after learning from their mistakes. As a society, we need to make financial education for all ages a priority.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:40 pm

      Gary in a perfect world your comments would make this world so much better off. Making educational changes is probably the easiest way to solve this problem in future generations.

  • Becky@frametofreedom.com May 7, 2016, 9:33 am

    this is a great article!!!!! I love it. The first discussion about personal finance that was ever taught was when I was in college. I was a junior and the conversation literally was 15 minutes. My professor took just a few minutes of the class to talk about being debt free because he thought it was important. Looking back, I wish I would have taken more of his advice. I personally think financially literacy first starts in the home. There should be a mandatory class in high school and in college to go over personal finance. I love this article. Thanks for a great read!

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:41 pm

      Becky, many people would like for personal finance to be taught at the high school level. Many colleges actually teach personal finance already so it is not a problem at that level. The problem is that people are not aware of the courses and their benefit. Glad you enjoyed this article so much 🙂

  • Kathryn @ Making Your Money Matter May 7, 2016, 11:20 am

    I think this is so interesting and something that I’ve been thinking about lately as well. I think that every high school should have the absolute basics of personal finance (bank accounts, interest, inflation, saving for retirement) included in the curriculum somehow, even if not as a separate class. I think there are also other life skills such as nutrition and exercise that need to be taught along the same lines as well. In college, I don’t think it should be an elective but something mandatory. At this stage, there is an audience of people that likely will be making higher wages and therefore need advanced knowledge about debt, retirement, investing, etc.

    Money is one thing that affects EVERYONE in this world. It’s a shame there isn’t more knowledge being shared not just in schools but in families as well.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:43 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more Kathryn. Money affects us all but we do not teach it, counter intuitive if you ask me. I was actually going to talk more about schools and how they have actually REDUCED teaching economics and personal finance. Not sure if students did not like it or teachers could not teach it but that is a real shame. Maybe a post for another time.

  • Savvy May 7, 2016, 1:22 pm

    My grandma, who lost a farm during the depression, was the one who taught me to live below my means from a very early age. She also paid me to help her with chores. I then took a personal business class in 8th grade as a quarterly elective. It was taught by the typing teacher. Those two actions probably helped give me a base. I floundered with debt after college, but got back on track with my own studying.

    As to what we do today – it has to start at home – though I am absolutely amazed how illiterate highly some of the educated people I know are about money. Even members of my accounting association at work admitted they have trouble paying their rent on time – that is serious. I have looked into teaching a 2-week class on financial literacy as a volunteer at the local high schools – you are correct current high school teachers are not qualified – but decided I didn’t have the time. Maybe when I’m retired.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:45 pm

      Savvy you pretty much highlighted a number of problems we face today. I myself was amazed at how highly educated people do not understand the basics of money. I think people who understand PF need to educate others on it. You were pretty lucky to be taught it at a young age, which has definitely been a benefit I am sure. Thanks for stopping in.

  • Christine @ The Mostly Simple Life May 7, 2016, 1:39 pm

    I think talking about budgeting and saving should be part of high school education before kids get a chance to acquire tons of credit card and student loan debt. I also think that parents need to talk to their kids about money and help them learn how to save and budget. I learned a lot from my parents and I don’t quite understand why parents aren’t willing to talk to their kids about money.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:47 pm

      Christine it is a matter of ignorance, lack of confidence in their own skill set, or not being aware of the topic. Like I said in a previous comment, parents can shape their kids. I would rather parents teach their kids positive habits than try to teach them bad habits. Not sure how parents cannot even teach their kid a budget though, pretty scary!

  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrich May 7, 2016, 1:55 pm

    It’s definitely the parents responsibility! But I think it would be beneficial to make it a class in junior high or high school. We had to take classes like home ec and typing, there might as well have been an elective in money management too.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 2:49 pm

      Exactly Mel! We have so many classes in school about the basics but why aren’t we learning about money? Money is in every aspect of our life. I think parents teach at a young age and then schools and colleges take over.

  • Emily @ JohnJaneDoe May 7, 2016, 3:04 pm

    I think this is one of those things like good citizenship that needs to start with the parents and be reinforced elsewhere, both at school and in the community.

    I am not sure I learned all of the lessons I could have from my parents about money, both due to my stubbornness and the fact that it was not a common conversational topic. I do try to talk about money a lot to my own child, who gets an allowance and the opportunity to earn “interest” from the Bank of Mom. I do know that I was far more willing to learn at school, but my schools didn’t even offer economics until I was done, or really any personal finance topics other than career exploration in Middle School. I would love to see kids have more personal finance lessons even in early grades and a required class in high school.

    • Stefan Sharpe May 7, 2016, 3:20 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Emily. Starting with parents and reinforced through educational years would definitely be the ideal scenario. Sadly, we are not even close to have this ideal vision be possible. Parents need to be responsible for their children and schools need to increase these topics rather than cut back on them.

  • Angela May 12, 2016, 9:07 am

    If the schools are teaching it, its because that’s what the politicians want; if the politicians want it, it’s becasue the banks insist. And who owns the banks? I’d rather the education system stuck to academics, art, science and not be part of brainwashing my child. Do we really trust these people to teach our children to think for themselves and question everything?

  • Diane May 14, 2016, 4:54 pm

    Parents should tart young with kids. Make sure they understand money and how the system works. My mom and dad were very thrifty and they taught me to be that way. I have passed that on to my children, now my grandchildren.

  • Tiffany VanSickle May 15, 2016, 1:01 am

    I definitely think schools need to do a better job, but I think it should absolutely start at home. The more the kids understand early, the more easily they will learn harder concepts later.

    We don’t pay our kids for doing chores because we don’t want them to only work when they want to get paid. We are trying to teach them to WANT to contribute/work because they are a part of our family team. We also don’t give them an allowance, at least yet, because we don’t want them to feel entitled. When they get money for holidays we try to get them to save, but if they do want to buy something we make sure they realize how much money the have, what it costs, what percentage of their money they will be spending if it’s a larger purchase, and how much they will have left.

  • Annemarie LeBlanc May 15, 2016, 4:19 pm

    It was my parents who first taught me about finances. I got paid for chores, I received monetary rewards for getting good grades and other academic/athletic achievement awards. My mom opened a “kiddie savings account” for me and taught me how to fill in a deposit slip. It was in college that I learned about investing.

  • Holly @ Woman Tribune May 16, 2016, 12:24 am

    I have always wondered why public schools didn’t teach financial literacy and responsibility. Schools are supposed to prepare students for the world they will eventually inherit and learning how to balance a checkbook, pay taxes, and begin a retirement account, among other things, are very important aspects of living as a fully functioning adult. In a perfect world, all parents would teach their children these aspects of being an adult, but we don’t live in a perfect world and I think schools should take on more of that responsibility.

  • Ave May 16, 2016, 12:24 pm

    I think we should get some information about financial literacy at school, but the individual itself should be interested enough to learn more about the matter. Parents should teach financial literacy to their kids.

  • Nicole Escat May 16, 2016, 3:27 pm

    I learned about personal finance from my parents and the university. I think these two should be responsible for teaching us financial literacy.

  • Babita May 17, 2016, 3:11 am

    I personally feel it is the responsibility of the parents to teach personal finance to their kids. However, it is not happening anymore and kids are growing up feeling very entitled.

  • Farrah May 20, 2016, 5:08 am

    I think a lot of this begins at home. We are definitely trying to get on the thought of if we don’t have the money for it, then don’t buy it. We’ve gotten ourselves into way too much debt.

  • Erhard Juritsch Jun 20, 2016, 3:31 pm

    If schools teach the short sight of financial planning, universities can bring the Long Term sight, like investments in private an company Assets, retirement, SWOT Analysis and so on. The individual sight corresponds with the Logic of the business perspective in many areas but there are also important differences

  • Corinne Guidi Jul 6, 2016, 6:57 pm

    Hello Stefan,
    I have a few thoughts, observations, and (like anyone one else seeking financial freedom) strong opinions on this topic.

    A. Did you know that there are National Standards for k-12 Personal Finance Education?

    I bet most people would be surprised, seeing how it is completely absent from school curricula. Check em out here

    http://publications.usa.gov/USAPubs.php?PubID=6062

    http://www.jumpstart.org/national-standards.html

    B. Don’t forget about the private sector.

    One thing to add to your list is the private sector and the private companies/social entrepreneurs who have created programs outside of the scope of normal school curricula to enhance learning and achievement, but also to focus in on critical skills that schools don’t always have the time to work on. There are an abundance of resources and organizations out there to support this mission.

    You can see some examples of non-profits and websites that support teaching financial literacy at k-12 levels.

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/fl/finlitk12.asp

    C. Other strong opinions 🙂
    With that said, while there are a ton of resources out there – what really needs to be examined in WHO is teaching this at the high school level. Math is not finance, and agreeing with man of the above comments, most teachers simply do not feel comfortable teaching it. And obviously, what is being taught needs to be developmentally appropriate – by high school, I agree that they should be well versed in the concepts of credit, loans, and anything that is going to influence their decision of when to enroll in college and how they will fund that. They need to understand the impact of these financial decisions, and that takes someone who understands it and can deliver that message loud and clear.

    I used to teach high school, now I help kids in transition from high school to college, and many times college to the world. I am always amazed at how little attention has been given to financial knowledge. One girl even graduated from a prestigious college with a degree in Economics and had never even used Excel. What are we doing!? I even taught at a private school where most students came from the higher socioeconomic bracket. You would think that these kids were getting taught at home about finance but it’s simply not always the case – as others have said, it comes down to the parents. In the same way that many teachers can’t teach it, many parents can’t either. If students don’t know what to do with a tax form when they apply for their first job nor have they learned how to do a simple budget…we’ve got work to do!! Ok, rant over. Great post!!

  • Rudy SMT Jul 11, 2016, 12:42 pm

    Nice article that touches hard points like poor financial education by parents and schools.

    I just did a study about Jews and find out they teach financial literacy from the young age with the 5 jars system.

    I’m so impressed that I’m going to apply it to my daughter once she is 2 years old.

  • Steven McMillian Aug 11, 2016, 9:49 am

    I believe that financial literacy starts at home. Parents need to teach their kids to be financially responsible. However, I think schools should teach students personal finance so kids have a different viewpoint than their parents. Having different perspectives will help reinforce them to be financially responsible. My parents and school did a great job teaching me how to budget and how to survive the “Real World”.

  • Sarah @tortoisehappy Sep 21, 2016, 9:49 pm

    I think as many different sources as possible! In the UK, we have debt charities and advice charities that have the knowledge and expertise to teach people of all ages and could go into schools to deliver financial education programmes.

    In college, we had the option to take part in a 1 year programme to run our own business. It taught me a lot about the hard work of running a business and business finances, which you can apply to your own personal finances.

  • Delfi Oct 6, 2016, 10:10 am

    I think the one is responsible for learning the financial education is the individual itself. Whether it also need quite big enough parents’ participation and guidance, but the one who determine their ownselves want to be like what is by their ownselves.

    I think, in this information era, everyone has the same opportunity to access the information resources. For example, I’m still 16 this year, but I have the willing to learn this financial education. The point is to have the willingness to learn.

    The first time I learn financial education is when I was grade 9, I read such a very great book, Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teenagers at my school library. Then, I started to visit the web, http://www.richdad.com from there I learn quite enough lessons and finally I’m arrived at this blog. The point is when we start to have the willingness to learn, the door will be opened.

    So, I think the most responsible party to learn this financial education is ourselves.

    By the way, thank you for posting this great blog. It’s so inspired.
    http://www.themillennialbudget.com/responsible-teaching-financial-literacy/#commentform

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