April happens to be financial literacy month—something of which I think we would all agree that we could stand more—and, based on the outpouring of response from readers this week, something about which we all feel passionately.
Indeed—and despite a recent post of mine—if there’s a chorus that I’ve heard repeated time and again since I’ve been in this business, it’s the consistent notion that if only people were exposed to some level of finance basics before they got to the workforce, it would be a lot easier to help them prepare for retirement.
We asked readers when they started learning about finance(s)—and, as you’ll see, for most it was…well, there was no “most”:
24% – High school
20% – 4th–6th grade
18% – College
15% – Junior high
13% – K-3rd grade
7% – pre-Kindergarden
3% – That first 401(k) meeting…
Some reminiscences, recollections, observations and recommendations…
I had a paper route. My dad encouraged me to start investing. It changed my life.
This was more from parents wanting to teach the importance of savings.
General courses, not personal finance. Started leaning about Pension Plans after I got my first Civil Service job.
I was an Accounting major so Finance 101 was my first finance class and my first exposure ever to learning about finance.
Took over the family finances.
My brother and I had savings & checking accounts for as long as I can remember. We put money into our savings accounts for as long as I can remember.
I kind of learned my whole life due to some lessons imparted by my parents.
Worked as a bank teller in high school.
I wish it would have started in junior high.
My father was an advisor and my grandfather was an advisor, so I have always been learning about finances.
We had a stock market contest (I was in HS 1986-1990).
I grew up in a family where my Dad passed away at a very young age. While we weren’t specifically taught “personal finance” from a textbook standpoint, we learned it from a practical standpoint very early on. Money in, and money out. You can’t (or shouldn’t) spend what you don’t have. Those types of things were instilled in me very early in life.
I started my first job at 11 years old.
I sold newspapers outside my church every Sunday so learned a little bit about money at that point.
My father set up a passbook savings account for me when I was four years old and taught me how to enter the deposits.
My son is currently in kindergarten and they are working on being able to identify money and learning to count it.
Anything money should not be emotional or secret. It’s simply a tool we ALL need to function, like air and water. I grew up in a household where it was spun up to be an emotional, daily topic. And those sorts of environments creating lasting impressions on people who enter adulthood and may not be able to function. We can change this.
My first college job when I wanted to start saving.
It’s when I remember first receiving a VERY small weekly allowance from my parents and having to make the decision each week to spend it or save it.
Was involved in 4H and raised Rabbits and Pigs. Had to keep track of our expenses. Reimbursed Dad for the feed and was able to keep the proceeds from the sale. Purchased my first 22 rifle with the proceeds.
1st job at 14… started… that is the key word… it was a very, very elementary education at that time.
Ever hear of home economics? Went the way of civics classes. “I can’t be out of money! I still have checks in my checkbook!”
Kids need to learn the value of a dollar as early as they can start to count and do simple math.
Maybe is not an issue of age, but a culture of a family. If children are taught about practical aspects of money, perhaps they see it differently as they mature
My great aunt sent me money for my birthday and my dad helped me open a bank account with it – $20. It was a lot of money back then!
When I got my first real job with a paycheck, not just babysitting or pet-sitting for neighbors
We had household chores posted in our kitchen. A nickel for making our bed. A dime for running the sweeper. Etc. But we also had fines, such as 10 cents for dirty dishes left in the sink, and my favorite – a whole quarter if our horse “doo-doos” in the driveway and we don’t clean it up!
Personal finance… really never, right? You just kinda get thrown into it in life..
An algebra teacher in high school pushed basic concepts on us.
Our local bank provided little savings passbooks (remember them??) and every Monday, we brought in money to put into a little brown envelope. Our teacher would collect the envelopes and the next Monday, we would get our updated savings passbook showing the deposit we made.
Learned how to raise livestock and sell to add to the family income. Before age 9 you learn but can really understand at age 9 or so.
Didn’t learn about econ or investing until college, but had small “mini” lessons growing up, like having a savings account. (Remember the passbooks when you actually earned interest, so it was fun to go to the bank and see your bank account grow?) Mom taught me to balance a checkbook; don’t recall when. I think in high school because I had to pay for my own phone with the money I earned from my job.
Had a class on personal finances in high school, balancing a check book, etc.
Running my first business, Chicago Paperboy for daily, Chicago American. Sales, Service, Business, Collect, etc.
There was a show “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?” perfect time to start teaching the basics of saving and spending.
When I got married my husband introduced me to his advisor (I was age 24) and that’s when I really started to understand compounding, insurance, estate planning, etc. It was eye opening.
1960s. Bank of America started a savings program for grades 1–6. Every Tuesday we would bring in our little bank books and our change and put them into a bank bag. The bag was returned on Thursdays with the bank books stamped and the deposit recorded. I had hundreds of dollars accumulated by 6th grade.
This really needs to be taught at an earlier age.
I learned about money as soon as I started making money babysitting. I opened a passbook savings account and watched my money add up.
It should have started much earlier.
I learned how to balance a check book my senior year in High school as part of the curriculum but it was just basic checking account finances, it wasn’t until I was in college that I began to learn about the markets.
This needs to be taught as early as possible in public education.
I took a class called General Business and Record Keeping (GBRK). It taught me about some areas of finance and budgeting. In college at University of Illinois–Chicago Circle, I took a class called Personal Finance. It taught you everything from writing a check (that is how old I am) to budgeting, buying a home, mortgages and loans of all sorts. Really helped.
I think it was in fourth grade. We were given pretend checkbooks, a budget and bills, and we had to make it all work (and learned how to balance said checkbook). I don’t remember receiving any other “official” financial education since then.
I think we need to consider one’s first piggy bank the beginning.
Grad school, my degree was half business. Didn’t learn how to manage money well from that, though…
We then asked readers who taught first taught them about finances—and here there wasn’t nearly as much diversity:
60% – Parents
17% – I was self-motivated
13% – A teacher
5% – A specific class at school
4% – Relatives (who weren’t parents)
1% – A friend
And, of course—there was some commentary to go with those responses:
Only about savings, checking account and debt management
The School of Hard KNOCKS !!!
Fiancé at the time, now he is my spouse.
Not much, just opened a bank account and told me to put my paychecks in there. And it was a small town bank before ATMs and debit cards.
I had to figure it out myself!!
Life experience regarding wants and needs as a child and adolecent
Parents kicked it off, but self teaching through trial, error and observation have helped me cure prior missteps.
And also took a class at church (Dave Ramsey)
Through observation of my parents, I kinda learned what not to do… although much of their trouble was from trying to give us 6 kids as much opportunity as possible. Older brothers taught me a bit too as they had jobs before me.
I got my first job at age 12 (off the books) which gave me an appreciation of the relationship between work and money.
Financial hardship in family
I would like to think that all of the above should take part in the overall education about finances. If we can surround people from a young age on how money works and I don’t mean buying and spending, maybe we would have better outcomes.
It would be nice if all parents were equipped to provide the education. However, I think it’s more of a combination ideally than just one selection above.
I had older brothers who had jobs
Learn great work habits and appreciate how to handle money from my parents.
Wanted to make a trip when I was 13 and figured out how to save via chores. Parents matched half of the air fare if I got to the half-way benchmark. $5 a week to clean the house like a maid! Took a while…
Read the WSJ in High School
1960s. I was given a dime every Saturday; I could save it or spend it or mostly bought candy.
My mom taught me about keeping my checking account and developing credit but knowledge about investing in retirement plans came through my profession.
When I started working in the industry is when I started learning about finance.
I came from a large family and resources were tight. I had to learn early on that if I wanted something, I had to work for it; Fortunately, I had a job at an early age working for a blueberry factory that hired all the local kids. We got a paycheck each week and I learned how to save and pay for the things I needed and wanted. (clothes, car, etc.).I was also self-motivated and independent and wanted to take care of myself and pay my own way.
The school of hard knocks.
As to the why they got informed about finance:
47% – Parents made a point of it
35% – I was self-motivated
8% – I took a specific class at school
6% – A teacher provided those insights
3% – Relatives (who weren’t parents) had an opportunity
1% – A friend got me started
Broad as those categories were, readers had some stories behind the “categories”:
I took a job in the finance industry
My first Civil Service job, where most employees are very conscious about Benefits.
Somebody had to do it.
My first job was a paper route. I worked hard and tripled it in size, and had to learn the financial aspects quickly to manage everything.
Had to learn what to do with earnings
My grandpa on my dad’s side emigrated from Russia by himself when he was only 10 or 12 years old so saving, paying cash and not going into debt was just the way he lived. That’s why we had savings accounts so early.
I started working at a very young age. I hoed beans, detasseled corn and babysitting so I had income.
I learned a lot from my father who proactively made a point of it but I’d say I was also self-motivated. Incidentally, my father retired in his early 50s. Yes, he had a pension but was also an extremely diligent saver.
And I got my first job/started making money.
in addition to my parents, I was self motivated and I decided to major in Finance in college
I saw my mother balance the checkbook, just new it was something that was done. No education on how to put savings and balancing a checkbook into action.
My parents went through a tough financial time and I did not want to repeat their mistakes, so I started to educate myself.
I decided to become a financial counselor
Grew up poor and I needed to learn how to overcome my situation.
I joined the National Stock Market Challenge when I was 12 years old.
I bought a house and had to make the mortgage payments.
Took an interest w my father
I started working part time and making money
Because i got a part time job i high school and wanted a car
The movie Wall Street.
It was always important to learn different aspects of finances such as credit and budgeting.
I was a double major with accounting and economics
Daily parental battles were centered around money. This was foolish, but now an opportunity to change the course for others.
After taking the classes in middle and HS I became interested.
I was independent with zero assistance from parents after high school, so I didn’t have an option. 🙂
Growing up poor, I didn’t want to lose what I earned. I learned some lessons from the school of hard knocks…lost money that I worked hard for.
Also it was a function of the environment I was living in (foreign country). Seeing the disparity of how people lived was enough of an impression to want to figure things out.
Mom & Dad never spoke about family finances.. .because we did not have much. They peached the value of work and if I wanted the latest pair of Pony leather basketball shoes, I had to pay 1/2.
My father went bankrupt twice and became close to being homeless when I was 10 yrs old.
Small business owner-family, I was around it nearly all of the time and it was purposely introduced to me.
Seemed like something you would eventually need to know
Dad had a friend who was a stock broker and he sent us the book listing publicly traded companies with a few data points – started following companies of products that I used.
Thinking back I see I was a natural saver.
Parents encouraged my siblings and I to work for what we wanted. Although they supported us, when we were old enough to get a job they encouraged us to do so. This helped me to build my financial skills.
When—the Next Generation
Those personal experiences notwithstanding, the $64,000 question remained—when do readers think we should start teaching kids about finance(s). In view of the experiences already shared, it would perhaps be no surprise that the collective sense was—well, “early”:
31% – K-3rd grade
30% – 4th–6th grade
19% – Junior high
14% – pre-Kindergarden
6% – High school
Or, perhaps more succinctly:
Starting early as possible the importance of saving and then to begin the process of investing in junior high or high school would be very helpful.
The sooner the better.
The sooner the better. It is a staple of the human experience and how well one does with finances vs another can be the difference between a retirement that dreams are made of and poverty. It’s a big deal.
…and brush ups each year thereafter. Budgets should be established from an early age for their costs.
I think we can start in kindergarten by teaching kids the importance of saving.
I have a sister, who began at the McDonald drive thru. She would take a few French fries out of each kid’s meal and call it Tax. They learned about taxation.
We started teaching our kids about saving very early. They had savings accounts at a local bank that encouraged them for young kids because they charged no fees as long as parents had accounts. We made them save half of any money they received. My kids both had checking accounts by second grade and if they wanted to buy Scholastic books, they had to write checks for them. They had debit cards as soon as the bank let them and never overdrew their accounts. They both navigated all financial aid matters in college… I merely completed the necessary paperwork. And, now at 26 and 23, they moved into their own places after college… not my home… living within their means. That’s why it’s imperative to teach kids about finances very, very early.
I think basic concepts about money should be taught in the early elementary grades and can be built as kids progress throughout school.
It should be an ongoing process
The best time to start would be when children start developing abstract thinking skills and have the basic math ability to understand some of the concept.
Kids can learn the basic concepts at the same time that they start to learn math and how to tell time (on a non-digital device).
Teach basics very early… for example, when I was a young child, when I wanted something and my mother said we didn’t have the money, I told her to go to the bank. That would have been a good time to gently guide me to understanding that the bank only had the money that was already yours to offer you…
When they get their first job or start doing chores.
Definitely the earlier, the better. Obviously starting with very basic concepts and progressing from there. By 3rd grade or so, and by the end of elementary school for sure, kids should have an idea of what “income” is, and what “needs” the family or individual has to pay for. Obviously fairly rudimentary concepts, but I think a great place to start. As we know, personal finance gets more complicated from there. But that basic understanding sets the foundation for everything else.
Earlier the better. Not sure a Pre[K child can truly understand
All along the way at age appropriate… but start with a piggy bank, then savings account, etc.
The younger the better to begin teaching the basics of Budgeting, Debt Management, the Magic of Compound Interest, etc.
They better comprehend that the value of things–- chores, allowances, helping around the house, etc. and that doing things helps others as well as can provide rewards and satisfaction for you as an individual.
I think there can be some simple aspects about finance shown to kids once they reach grade school and have it progress each year.
So many people could be so better off. At a minimum, it needs to start in middle school. I would argue sooner. I have worked with students at the high school level and in 7th grade through Jr Achievement. 7th grade is too late. They’ve already formulated patterns and behaviors at that point.
Playing grocery store or restaurant at home with pretend is when my parents started giving lessons on what costs, how figure it out, different coins, bills, etc vs just a credit card you see so many use without thought.
It’s a life long process that needs to be taught at home, reinforced at school.
Money is a tool. It’s also a core function of life in that it’s needed along the entire journey. You can live without it, but you really can’t. It may not be your own, but through a program of support, it still exists and lubricates functions like food/shelter/clothing/etc. Money is nothing more than a socially agreed-upon medium of exchange, learn this first and you can than figure out how to have enough to live whatever life you choose. With patience and hard work, of course.
I started my son off young learning about tithing and Dave Ramsey’s ideas about tithing then spend/save
All throughout their growing years, bit by bit, the parents and the school curriculum teaching at the child’s appropriate level, and learning that it is something positive
Parents are best teachers for such and for many reasons. Although I do remember taking a home economics/finance course in middle-school that taught me some of the very basics.
I’m not sure why this isn’t mandatory for all kids… they will have to learn how to handle money. As they age, whether they earn it or it is given to them, they will need to know some essentials. And possibly more important is the behavior part… behaving themselves into better scenarios, rather than being impulsive.
Go into the basics like balancing a checkbook (or your smart phone). Teach about debt and compound interest.
Going back to my original comments is about creating a culture of how life happens. I would also think it should be as soon as possible, there is no magic age, but a process of growth. Finances and money issues can affect a human being at any stage. Young children will experience issues of finance from their parents, relatives, friends, etc.
Start with putting coins in a piggy bank and using your own money to buy that candy bar you want so badly!
Learning to share and not waste is being financially smart in the long run.
Cents and dollars if hard currency available. Otherwise, basic math skills needed so K-3. More difficult without hard currency though. Kids love to touch and feel.
The basics… then in high school and college, there should be mandatory finance… it is distressing how little (using my 29 year old son and his 32 year old fiancée with two masters as my petri dish) the younger generation knows (likely older generation too!!!)… don’t understand basic insurance (term vs whole life), mutual funds… and that’s just for starters.
Ideally there are lessons at home as well as age appropriate lessons in school, starting in elementary school.
Met a 13 year old who had never paid for anything at all. His parents always took care of it. He was the younger brother of the man I was dating, so I took him all over and made him always make the purchases, calculate his change, it was remarkable how much he learned in a few months.
Started teaching my kids at this age unfortunately they would rather have Mom and Dad oversee their investments.
I think there is room in every grade to teach about finance. However, seems to have gone by the wayside.
Pay your kids for age-appropriate chores and then let them buy things with it paying cash.
Parents should start early on with very simple activities around shopping and decision about spending money maybe birthday gift money. It should continue from there. In schools, it can be incorporated into math.
Save / Spend / Share = responsibility is what I did with my kids … birthday and holiday money …
As soon as they are able to understand basic spending skills as this sets the foundation for future money management behavior.
I think it can start in 4th to 6th grade, but then it also needs to continue.
Math courses should integrate personal finance issues.
Starting in Pre-K, it can be as simple as playing “store” and having a “job” and not spending more that you have, or saving for bigger things!
The earlier the better. I learned to manage money at least 20 years too late…
As for what most important for 401(k) savers to know/master:
39% – The importance of saving
28% – How to budget
23% – The magic of compounding
6% – How to figure out how much to save
2% – The impact/importance of the employer match
1% – How social security works
1% – The difference between stocks and bonds
As for the impact of inflation, what a mutual fund is—and in’t, and how to pick the right target-date fund—all less than 1% each.
Well, we got a lot of responses this week—and a ton of additional comments. Here’s a sampling:
Huge problem in this country Budgeting 101 needs to be a requirement along with Saving / Retirement 101
People need to understand they HAVE to save, it’s not a choice. Understanding how to max free money in their benefit plans is key.
Teaching people how the amount they save translates into non-paycheck income is key.
We 401(k) advisors are the closest thing to financial advisors that most participants will ever have. More should be done in middle school and high school to get kids to start to have an appreciation for saving.
I think the first step is the importance of saving, then budgeting, then compounding, how much to save, the impact of an employer match. Even if an employer doesn’t match it is still important to save through your company retirement plan.
It’s really a shame that financial literacy is something you have to go out of you way to learn. This should be a basic subject taught in every school. Money: people worry about it, lie about it, steal it, fight about it, and even kill for it. One would think we should taught how to manage it.
It should be required that students take a class dedicated to personal finance in order to graduate from high school.
Financial wellness should be a top priority, which I believe is the cure for MANY ailments.
Financial literacy is a part of life no matter what stage of life you are in, including school age children
What’s the question again lol?
It’s all about spending habits and when is really important
We make it too complicated. Nobody has truly mastered KISS.
Often, the biggest barrier to workers’ ability to save in the 401k is the inadequacy of their salaries to provide for their economic needs, Not having enough income is an insurmountable barrier. The financial industry should join the fight to raise the minimum wage so that more workers will have the means to save, thereby making 401ks an accessible tool for savings. Raising workers’ wages is actually beneficial to the 401k industry as it increases the pool of potential assets that can go into 401ks.
The government prefers its citizens stay stupid about finances (and obsessed about race). Otherwise, they might begin to question the tax code and national debt.
This past year our practice has spent more time on financial literacy and wellness than anything else. Many of our clients have been severely impacted by shutdowns and travel restrictions and had no choice but to furlough or lay off employees. But they still care about the employees and hope to resume operations in full someday. So we’ve been asked to provide educational support related to financial literacy and wellness.
One can’t be financially literate when they feel entitled. learning to work for a reward (pay) is the first step in learning
Don’t get me on my soapbox on how important it is to teach financial literacy as early as possible and hit savings hard. Both of my kids have friends who are deep in student loan and credit card debt, living at home, not living within their means. At least my daughter’s high school required a personal finance class.. but she’d had checking/savings accounts for years. She couldn’t believe kids her age didn’t know how to write a check. Though, now that wouldn’t be so unusual. I love working with young employees through their retirement plans. I emphasize over and over decisions they make today will dictate if they HAVE to work or GET to work later in life. The pandemic exposed just how fragile finances are for so many American workers. It seems so common sense… but obviously it’s not.
The light bulbs really come on when I show employees the noncontributor vs contributor where they can see the tax savings the match in black & white.
We need to stop focusing on education and instead, change the culture. Saving for retirement (and
saving in general for that matter) is NOT about education, it’s about a mindset.
As a sign of some optimism on teaching financial literacy, I have seen some progress in the NJ public schools in recent years. My son (who is my oldest), didn’t have any financial literacy curriculum until his freshman year in high school. But my daughter (who is three years younger) had it both in middle school and then again this year as a freshman. She also participated in a Junior Achievement program in middle school offered as part of the gifted and talented program. Hopefully this means that it will continue to be extended to the lower grades and also be offered nationwide. Both kids enjoyed having to pick careers, cities to live in, create a budget, etc. It was all taught in a fun way.
Financial literacy effects every aspect of life. For young kids to be able to tie financial chooses into life long impacts is imperative.
I always tell people they need to learn how to control their money or it will control them. Getting mastery over your money is so empowering and I think the conversation has to be much broader than how much to save.
I have been in our business for 30+ years and am amazed and disappointed by how little plan participants know about most things financial… mortgages, bank savings accounts, mutual funds, their match in their plan, how much they will need to retire, etc…
It is imperative that we start educating our children earlier. As an advisor that speaks to 401k ppts, I am constantly amazed at the fact that almost no one knows what a 401k is prior to our enrollment meeting. More importantly, in preparing for retirement, people need to know what their budget is so they can plan (with inflation) how much money they need to have PRIOR to retiring.
If you can’t make it applicable and relatable you lose your audience. Keep it age and socioeconomic specific
The box is not big enough. There is SO much to think and talk about. I absolutely love this (yes, I’m a geek).
I think most financial literacy programs overcomplicate things. It’s partly because the industry needs to constantly invent things and perhaps some is compliance.
As an industry we can do much better donating our time to teach financial literacy. It should be a metric by which we all are measured by at our firms.
Start early and save often.
The power of starting early and the relativity of a simple excess expense vs choice to save an equal amount of funds and compounding impact.
I’d say a number of the topics in #5 above should be taught, not just the one I chose.
Did I need to memorize the periodic table and parts of a frog? Scientists need more financial literacy than I need specialized science classes.
Fundamentals are imperative to success, budgeting, debt management, compound interest, etc. Average working Americans don’t need to master Modern Portfolio Theory, amongst other complexities, in order to be financial independent and stable. While the 401(k) industry regularly gets blamed for the failures of our society to build stable financial profiles, more legislative attention should be focused on the escalating cost of living and invariably the average consumer’s CAPACITY to save effectively.
Most people and especially younger people have difficulty seeing beyond a few years. So, discussing retirement is generally something a long ways out and you have time to do things. Planning for the future or planning in general for everything in life, especially finances, needs to be addressed and taught much sooner. Unfortunately, many parents and teachers of younger people do not understand the concepts and impact of not understanding financial matters early on in life.
One aspect I’ve been talking about for years is the need for people in Financial Services (advisors or otherwise) to be going into schools and talking to kids. At the very least, High School kids (Juniors and Seniors) to talk about Credit Cards and the “value” of the college education before venturing into six-figure debt. The ARA had discussed doing this a few years ago and I think it would be awesome. There are a few companies that do financial education for K-12 (Junior Achievement) and there should be more.
Regarding #5 above, time is most important. I wish I had more of it. I wish I had started sooner. Once they understand that and they “get it,” you can then work with them to budget to find the dollars… get to the match level, and the rest will fall into place.
FW or Financial Literacy for most really means having a financial coach assist you in developing a financial plan, whether rudimentary or advanced. Need objectives, goals, time horizon(s), risk tolerance etc. Once completed, periodic checks to see if on target and/or if goals changed.
Two quotes that I learning early in my career were: “Investing in about time in the market and not timing the market.” And Einstein said, “The eighth wonder of the world should be the compounding of interest, if you understand it you earn it, if you don’t you pay it.” Those are the two founding principles that I hope to instill in my kids when it comes to finance. Start saving early, save often and watch it grow to incredible height!
I’ve been working on this topic since I was able to articulate its existence. The challenge is that those who feel they are without money, ignore it. And those who have it, think they’re above learning how to optimize the use of the tool. This explains why financial literacy is a cottage idea at best, and not a socially accepted lesson en mass. Much work needs to be done here, and more needs to be done by the private financial operators focused on profit to give back just a little more. We live in a world of abundance, there’s more than enough to go around.
We need to teach as much about spending habits as much as we do how and why to save.
I think we need to do more to get into the school systems and get kids before they get their first paycheck.
Retirement Plans types and the type Employers who can choose the Retirement Plan types.
People are generally financially illiterate we need to do more to incorporate basic financial responsibility into elementary curriculum because it’s not being taught nor practiced by parents.
Again, age appropriate examples and teaching throughout their growing years
I each Personal Financial Literacy to college seniors. That seems like the most impactful time to get ‘their attention’ as it is likely they will soon be responsible for expenses that are likely currently paid for now. They love budgeting!!
As I mentioned before, behavior is very important. Getting people to think about how they spend and save and why they do what they do.
You can’t invest what you don’t save. Financial success in saving requires discipline and denial.
We can always sacrifice some small expense for long term savings
The word literacy alone is not appealing to someone that maybe interested in the subject, it can have a negative connotation on the audience.
If a person doesn’t know how to spend their money correctly (budget) they won’t have any left to save!
I’ve volunteered for many years at BestPrep, a non-profit that promotes financial literacy in schools. I’ve taught the stock market game to middle and high school students. It’s very fun for them and rewarding for me. The youngest grade I’ve taught was 5th grade gifted and talented.
I’m always surprised when I talk to a participant who wants to save beyond their match (which is good) and then find out they are making minimum payments on high credit card balances. They are just digging a hole!
Our high school requires students to take a basic personal finance class their senior year. There were some helpful exercises related to budgeting, taxes, debt, etc. but the teacher uses the same materials year after year and the students are bored. It’s a shame.
Financial literacy should be a subject mandatory to graduate high school. There is such a need, especially in lower income schools where the broken cycle made from parents needed to be corrected so their children learn better and do better.
Money makes the world go ‘round. Happiness? No. Important? Yes.
Financial literacy needs to be taught in school just like reading, writing, and arithmetic. So many problems in the world are a result of people not understanding saving, budgeting, living within your means, compound interest, etc. How do we expect to solve financial problems, like people not being able to retire, if we don’t address the root causes early in life?
Financial Literacy needs to start as early as possible even with rudimentary, basic skills. Make it fun, i.e. PLAY monopoly, game of life, etc with the kids. Adults need to have it reinforced throughout life’s stages.
It is certainly a critical need in our communities
Living within your means, including a savings component!
Financial literacy inequalities exist across demographics. Emphasize need to deliver education for some groups through community and religious organizations.
Unfortunately, because our consumer economy creates strong GDP, there is a mixed message to save vs consume. However, basic budgeting, meaning being able to not live beyond one’s means, is most fundamental to wealth creation.
I would love to see more advisors, whether FA on the investment side, TPA side, or otherwise, to get out in the schools to talk to kids about what they do, particularly women, people of color, but the white guys in ties as well. Kids need to see and hear what we do to know there is an option or even to get idea that they may want to pursue a career, but mostly to just build an interest in how money works for them.
The Actuarial Foundation’s mission is to enhance math education and financial literacy. Free educational materials for grades 4 – 12 for teachers and students – excellent stuff. Unfortunate: not much interest from schools. Also: In high school 1970s we had a semester on finance and a semester on government. These are no longer in the curriculum.
Save More Tomorrow! Spend less today!
Financial literacy is an important topic and should be taught throughout grammar school and high school. It is one of the topics that every American needs to be fluent in. There are many entities, like credit card companies, that will fight that education so it wont be easy.
When basic financial concepts are ingrained in children growing up and modeled by parents it has a very positive impact. It creates a foundation for understanding the impacts of financial decisions in a broader sense than just money.
Our society has slanted away from “live below your means” to “buy it, you NEED it, get it NOW, it’s on SALE” and we’ve indeed bought in hook, line and sinker. There is no easy solution to folks who live paycheck to paycheck due to overspending.
I am so passionate about financial literacy and the need for it to be REQUIRED in school.
The teaching of financial basics is of paramount importance. It needs to start early and be built upon as you get older and other concepts can be understood. It is not a one size fits all. It needs to be a flexible and adaptive program so that everyone can get something out of it not matter their background or situation.
Any group of people will be a different points in their lives, so having relevant information about saving, investing, and other financial decisions is important.
People without money don’t care. more effort needs to be on career advancement and less on telling people without money about the importance of saving.
Financial literacy is the difference between poverty and being able to retire at an early age, I believe. Everyone, no matter what your background, needs to understand the power of finances and how they can make it in this world. Budgeting may be the most important lesson one can learn. Too many people think that whatever money comes in the door is spendable. They need to understand taxes that are deducted, the difference between gross and net income, how to save for emergencies and for retirement.
I don’t believe we do enough, early on in teaching the basics of financial literacy. I don’t know what we are actually teaching kids in grammar school today; but I can tell you it’s not financial literacy, not even close! This is very sad as people carry this lack of knowledge with them throughout their lives leading to all the statistics which are the basis of this survey.
When I first started work at a TPA back in 1993, I was given a flyer entitled “The Importance of Starting Early.” It compared Ben, who saved for only 10 years from age 20-30, to Kathy, who started later but saved for a longer time. At age 65 Ben had more than Kathy. But imagine if Ben had continued to save! I think something simple like this needs to be provided to those entering the workforce so they don’t just put off saving as “something I can do later.”
Kids absolutely need to have a good basis in financial literacy before they think about going to college. So much debt is accumulated during the college years it hampers financial wellbeing for years. Poor financial literacy leads to a lifetime of chasing the debt monster.
The concept of delayed gratification is a core principle that was originally learned on the farm where you plant in the spring and reap in the fall. Today people are accustomed to immediate gratification.
There a difference between “learning about finances” and “learning about PERSONAL finances”
Thanks so much to everyone—hundreds of you—who responded, and responded with such passion—to this week’s NAPA-Net Reader Poll!