Financial Literacy In The Classroom

Paul Simon lamented “all the crap I learned in high school” and I tend to agree with him. I wasn’t a great student, but most of the coursework wasn’t great either. Much of it was too specialized or abstract to have value to most students.

A new North Carolina state requirement is putting a personal finance course into their classrooms. I think this is terrific. Everyone benefits from a basic understanding of saving, investing, borrowing, contracts, insurance, and taxes.

Our son, who is in college, has a good understanding of how money works, but he grew up during our FIRE journey when we talked about money a lot. When he was in Boy Scouts, I was the ‘Personal Management’ merit badge counselor and I was always surprised by how little most of the scouts knew about personal finance.

Perhaps some of us involved in the FIRE movement could take on financial literacy as an educational ’cause’? I think Brian at Debt Discipline has already done work in this area. It seems natural that those of us that have succeeded financially would be good advocates for improving this aspect of our kids & grandkids future.

Anyone have any experience with teaching kids personal finance?

Image Credit: Pixabay

10 thoughts on “Financial Literacy In The Classroom

  1. Thanks for the shout out. When I read the NC announcement, I forwarded it to our school administration. I’ve been working with my local school district and board of ed for close to five years. We now have financial literacy being taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The ultimate goal is to have a 1/2 year personal finance class as a graduation requirement. Most schools want community, and parent involvement, feedback, etc. So all it takes is for you to speak up and get involved.

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    1. Do you have a link to a post you’ve written about it, Brian? I looked on your site last night but couldn’t put my finger on it. If you do, I’d love to include it …

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  2. During my years as a HS math/stats teacher, I would always carve out 2 days in the spring to give the kids a short intro to SMART personal finance & wise decision-making about money. The calculators each kids already had came with a built-in TVM package, so they could quickly do their own calculations. We worked through a 2-page packet of scenarios, walking a hypothetical family through all the big financial decisions/moments. Buying a car, getting a loan (car and house), credit card issues, retirement accounts/saving, kids’ education, etc. At conclusion of each scenario, we’d stop and ask: what’s the lesson learned? Regardless of which class I was teaching, end-of-year evals repeatedly said it was the best two hours of the year. I’ve been retired for 9 years (since age 51. thanks, FIRE) and I STILL get messages from former students telling me they (unlike so many colleagues) are ‘on the right track’ because they had a clue about this stuff.

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    1. Wow – that’s quite a testimonial. I’m happy to hear that school’s have room for teachers to stray from the required curricula and insert something valuable like this. I guess it fits particularly well into math & statistics. Thanks for sharing!

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      1. Best part was when the hypothetical couple ‘maxed out’ a credit card and started making the minimum payment to pay it off. (I ALWAYS gave the kids a current actual credit card advertisement, so we were using perfectly accurate credit maximum, interest rate, etc). The simple question: how long will it take Otis and Bertha to pay off the credit card? Kids would punch in the numbers on their calculators and request “# of months til payoff”. I’d sit back, and everyone in the room would freak when their calculator said “ERROR”. “Mr. B, what’s wrong? I got an error message!” “Me too, Mr .B; it’s an ERROR!” I’d say, “Think about it” And every single time, some sharp kid would eventually say……”It’s a ERROR because…. they will NEVER EVER be able to pay it off. The interest is growing faster than the payment”. Recognition (and looks of horror) across the room. Me: “don’t raise your hands or anything, but……. who knows someone in this very situation?” Multiple nodding heads.

        PS Hey Mr. FS – say hello to your neighbors (and my friends for 40 years) Mr/Mrs J&J M.!

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      2. Yes – That’s quite a common #ERROR that people fall into. I did exactly that when I first got a credit card in college. If you are a friend of Mr M (& Mrs) who brews beer and runs marathons – we’ll see them when we are back home soon!

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  3. My older son so much enjoyed “The Stock Market” game in high school that he teacher let him play it for a second semester. I didn’t know at the time but he also bought Bitcoin when he was in High School. I think he has over $50,000 in Bitcoin at age 25 with an average cost of about $1,200 per coin. I think he should be more diversified, but he isn’t money oriented, he could lose all his Bitcoin tomorrow and it wouldn’t bother him. In that way he isn’t like me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He must have invested about $5K into Bitcoin when he got started. That’s a lot of money for a high school kid, for sure. It’s about $9.5K a coin now. I’m bullish on the role for cryptocurrencies, but it would also make me quite nervous to have that much of it!

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