5 Reasons High School Students Should Be Taught About Finances
Let’s face this fact; the overwhelming majority of Americans, and possibly people in other countries, really do a bad job of handling their money properly. I tend to believe it’s because most people really don’t think about learning anything about finances until they get into trouble. Taking it a step further, if they did want to know more where would they go, besides a few blogs I know of? 🙂
I’m not a parent but I was in high school in the past. I learned a lot of things that I was never going to have any use for. Sure, some of it I enjoyed, but since I never saw myself as becoming any kind of scientist (although at this juncture I’d have loved to have been an astrophysicist), I’m thinking that something I could have used, which were lessons on personal finance, would have helped me a great deal, not only when I had to go out on my own but even in college.
How? Let’s look at these 5 thoughts of mine:
1. The concept of college loans and interest. I was lucky in being a military kid. Not that it taught me all that much more about finances but I did know enough such that I knew I wasn’t going to Syracuse University, which cost $25,000 a year at the time. Instead I went to a state college, which only cost $1,600 a year. Some kids believe that if they don’t go to a top name college that they’ll be looked down on but my education was pretty good and, when I graduated, my loan obligations were less than $4,000. Even though school cost more now, lower priced options are still available and great options.
2. Understanding credit cards. When I went to college, students weren’t offered credit cards like they are now. However, when I first moved out on my own somehow I got my first credit card offer. Within 5 years I had 5 credit cards, and 3 of them were maxed out. I could make the payments okay, but I didn’t know anything about compounding interest and how long it would take me to pay them off for another 5 years after that. Suddenly, buying all that technology because I could “afford it” didn’t seem as smart.
3. Monthly budgeting. I never had to worry about this until I had a car accident on an icy road and had to buy my first car, as I’d been given my parents old car. I quickly learned how fast my money was draining with, at the time, a $197 monthly car payment for the first time. I got by for a little while but when I finally sat down and figured out my income versus my expenses I realized I had to think about either getting a roommate in a 2-bedroom apartment or finding a new job. I’d been out of college six years by this time; had I known earlier what could happen I might have planned better ahead of time.
4. Learning how to economize. A couple of times in my life, in the early days, I hate to figure out how to keep eating while not having much money for anything else. I found a place where on Tuesdays I could buy 5 loaves of bread for $2.00. I bought a lot of eggs, lots of boxes of mac & cheese, and hot dogs. I knew nothing about coupons, buying other things in bulk, or shopping around for deals. Luckily I was young enough to get away with eating badly but not everyone is.
5. Learning how to save money for your future. One of my biggest laments was not knowing anything about putting any money away for my future. I figured my pension from work would cover me. What I didn’t realize back then was if I didn’t get in at least 5 years at one place I’d never get those pensions; sigh… If I’d known better I would have started putting away money, even on my own, and I might have had enough to invest earlier and let it grow slowly so that I’d have a nice pot of money awaiting me when I turn 65.
Wouldn’t it be nice if young people learned some of these lessons while they could still benefit greatly from them?