“There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.” — Napolean Hill
In the traditional sense, students typically complete mathematics, history, English and science credits to graduate from high school, even college. Freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors need to also eventually learn about 401(k)s, IRAs, traditional annuities, the shopping annuity, and interest rates before they earn their caps and gowns.
It has already begun across different states in the United States but this needs to move faster. For example, freshman classes on personal finance are a required course for students at a Wisconsin high school. A nine-week class meets for 90-minute windows every weekday, and students earn a 1/2 credit for passing the class.
This curriculum needs to be designed and built around using data and financial trends from the past and present to help students with the issues they will face in the real world and future. For example, these classes could include developing GOALS and actual PLANS for taking out and paying off student loan debt, using and managing credit cards, reading and signing contracts and leases, in addition to taking risks and investing with the power of compounding interest and growth.
The top 5% of individuals in the world strive for time and financial freedom so why not teach and instill this into our youth at a young age? Financial literacy and having these discussions is mandatory, not a topic to be brushed under the rug because if that happens expect to be living a very mediocre and middle-class life.
Regardless of the fact, whether it is considering a university or college based on the expected debt load necessary to attend or simply learning the basics of retirement investing, wealth creation and compounding interest, I want current students and future students, as well as future adults, to become more financially literate. This isn’t difficult once we get down to the basics. It’s simply a matter of wanting and making a choice to understand the information. That’s always been the goal of my blogs and why I’ve been teaching these topics for the past year and why I’ll continue to do so.
Some high schools and colleges, but not enough, have offered personal finance courses as an elective since the late 1990s to early 2000s, with most students taking it after encouragement by their parents. I certainly wish my parents educated me on these topics other than telling me to go to school, to get good grades, to get a safe and secure job in the marketplace. But then again that’s what they were conditioned to do by their parents so it only makes sense.
High school students, college students, and young adults will become so much more empowered after taking personal finance classes, if and only if they’re taught the right way and not dull like most accounting classes I was taught growing up. I believe past students would then often comment that the personal finance class was so meaningful that it should be a standard requirement for all students at the high school, even college level!
States Adopting Financial Literacy Standards
Wisconsin isn’t the only state or county with advanced high schools making personal finance a priority and requirement. Statewide, they’ve made significant moves toward making these courses mandatory in their schools. In June 2016, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill requiring school boards to adopt academic standards for financial literacy and to begin implementation into classrooms.
Currently, across the nation, there are only 5 states that require a standalone course in personal finance for high school graduation. The first state to implement this standard was Utah in 2008. Students have been required to complete a semester-long financial literacy course but in my mind, that needs to continue and be much longer than one semester! At least, for those interested and wanting to make careers and impacts out of it.
In the past 10 years, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, and Alabama have also made personal finance course requirements for graduation. Topics covered in these courses usually range from saving and investing to selecting the right type of insurance. According to the Council for Economic Education (CEE), 17 states do require students to take a course in personal finance during high school. Again, this isn’t enough. What standard are the other 33 states abiding by? Also, only 20 states require students to take a class in economics. It wasn’t until I went to W&J College when I was finally exposed to my first economics class. What if they were offered in high school? I ended up being so passionate about economics, and financial economics, that I pursued it as my major!
In light of all of this, there is encouraging news as always. States are becoming more and more concerned and enlightened with the lack of financial literacy currently taking place. In Massachusetts, lawmakers have filed 10 different financial education bills. Additionally, in Pennsylvania, House Bill 429, which proposes new laws to mandate financial literacy courses for high school graduation, is up for a vote.
It is our duty as Millennials, young adults, older adults, and those striving for more out of life to teach individuals and students who are curious about what we know. Whether it’s reading a mortgage statement, 401(k), IRA or 403(b) plan statement, traditional annuity contract, understanding a shopping annuity, evaluating an auto loan, credit card offers, yearly tax form, or whatever it may be in relation to finance, we know students will face these financial decisions each and every day moving into their futures.
It’s our responsibility, mine included, to provide up-and-coming students, Gen Y’s, Baby Boomers and Gen Z’s (whatever they’re called these days) with the knowledge and skills around financial literacy to be much more prepared for the ever-changing world of financial services, accounting, even financial technology (fintech). That’s the goal and I won’t stop until that dream and vision becomes real! Creating wealth and multiple streams of income have never been simpler in America with the creation of the Internet so it’s my duty to help more individuals know how this can become a reality.
My Very Best,