There isn’t a day that goes by that we here at Sage Personal Finance don’t hear from a student or two singing the praises of our personal financial management course — a nice compliment, to be sure; and for those of you that have taken the time to let us know, we thank you! But what we find particularly interesting is how many students also express some regret that the tools provided in our course were never taught to them during childhood — and that financial literacy should be a mandatory part of every student’s education.
While we know that filers are not “one-size-fits-all” in terms of their reasons for having filed bankruptcy, it wouldn’t be a stretch to argue that most of us still have a thing or two to learn about managing money wisely — and like learning to ride a bicycle, the best time to start is when you’re young. But in this era of school cuts and budget constraints, teaching the importance of wise money management, more often than not, sinks to the bottom of the pile.
According to the non-profit financial literacy organization, Jump$tart Coalition, only four states (Virginia, Tennessee, Utah and Missouri) require at least one semester of personal financial education as a prerequisite for a high school diploma. While several state public school systems have developed K-12 integrated program curricula on financial literacy, many districts don’t have the staff, the time, the money or the expertise to teach even the simplest of money management concepts to kids.
Indeed, in February one representative in the state of Marylandrecently filed HB 191, a bill that, if passed, would make successful completion of a financial literacy course prior to graduation mandatory. Sadly, although not surprisingly, even its own state board of education opposes the measure for many of the reasons outlined above.
So, what to do? The most important suggestion we could offer is for parents to talk about money management with their kids. We often hear that the subject of money is an emotionally-charged taboo for many families. The National Financial Educator’s Council (a fantastic resource for financial education for all ages) has just released a new PSA campaign called, “The Talk,” a series of ads that tackle head-on the difficulties most adults have discussing finances with their children — and the critical importance of doing so.
So, say you’re a member of one of those families: Where do you start? Sage offers a number of great financial education resources that can be accessed at any time, free of charge, right on our website. Students taking our online course also have access to both the course and its own set of valuable financial education resources at no charge — for life!
We’ll also do our best to make sure the topics we cover in our blog, on our Facebook Page and our Twitter Feed @SagePF will help link readers to useful content, fueling the discussion among families about saving, budgeting and most important, taking charge of their money. So, have you had “The Talk” with your children? Are you planning to do so — and what resources will you use?