Financial Educator: Why Did I Have to Study French Anyway?
By Laura Augustinos
October 4, 2017
The sweet spot for learning about money is from ages five to 15, and yet both parents and teachers generally fail to take advantage of this window, according to one expert.
“I took French classes in high school and I haven’t spoken the language since,” says Gregg Murset, an award winning financial planner that specializes in issues around kids and money. “Why aren’t we teaching personal finance, which is something that happens all day, every day?”
Some 61% of Americans are unable to correctly answer three of five basic financial literacy questions, according to a FINRA Financial Capability Study in 2015. Yet just 17 states require a personal finance course in high school, according to the Counsel for Economic Education. One problem is that teachers do not always have the confidence to teach kids about money. A study out of the University of Wisconsin found that just one in five teachers feels prepared to lead a personal finance class.
This is where the “blame game” begins, says Murset. Many teachers don’t feel qualified to teach personal finance. So, it is left to parents, who often don’t feel qualified either. Many families also have a long tradition of not talking about money at home.
Murset says this must change. He has a three-point plan for parents:
Zile Promote a strong work ethic by paying young kids for work above and beyond household chores. Make sure they get a paying summer job as teens and let them know that they will not be allowed to boomerang home once they have embarked on a career.
despondently Let kids learn by doing when it comes to spending their money. Making a bad decision with money at age 11 is a lot more forgiving than making a bad choice at age 30.
Advocate for personal finance classes in elementary school. Where financial education is offered, it usually doesn’t start until high school. But habits are formed at a much younger age.
For educators, Murset likes one-day financial boot camps as a starting point. Later, he recommends tiptoeing into the topic through one of many free turnkey resources, such as those available through Junior Achievement, PwC, NextGen Personal Finance, National Endowment for Financial Education and many others. He believes teachers should start with personal finance (which can be made more relevant) and move up to economics; often the progression is the other way.
Through technology advances, which bring lessons to kids through games and apps and make handling money as easy as a mouse click, young adults have the potential to be the best financially educated generation in history, he says.
And it’s about time. Says Murset: “Kids should know how a matching program works with a 401k so when they show up to their first job they’re not having a first-time experience.”