It can be amazing how we require students to take math, English, history, and other classes to graduate high school, but we ignore essential subjects, such as personal finance. Understanding personal finance is crucial to this country’s success, and it will affect every student throughout his or her life. It’s time we made personal finance a part of our core curriculum.
In the news, you constantly hear about how awful the savings rate of the average American is or how the youth of this country have serious financial problems. Here are some alarming statistics:
• America’s personal savings rate fell to 4 percent in May 2012.
• One-third of working Americans have less than $1,000 saved; 60 percent have less than $25,000.
• Two out of three college graduates owe $24,000 or more in student loans.
• Credit card debt for 25- to 34-year-olds has increased 81 percent during the last two decades.
The problem in America is education. Personal finance is simply not being taught at home or in our school systems. In fact, according to the Council for Economic Education, only 13 states require a personal finance course be taken in order to graduate high school. Only 14 states require personal finance courses to be offered in the curriculum. Some of the states where classes are not required are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, Ohio, Vermont, and Washington, among others.
Teaching young people financial basics is common sense as it is important for everyone in our country to have a good understanding of economics. We have to make better financial decisions both on personal and governmental levels, and we can begin making a difference by making our voices heard. Start by talking to your school board and congressional leaders about bringing personal finance courses to the classroom. At the very least, make sure you teach your children how to be financially responsible.
• Mike Piershale, ChFC, is president of Piershale Financial Group. Send any financial questions you wish to have answered in this column to Piershale Financial Group Inc., 407 Congress Parkway, Crystal Lake, 60014. You may also fax them to 815-455-6453 or email Mike.Piershale@PiershaleFinancial.com