Last week I wrote a long overdue post on a topic that means a lot to me, money education in high school.
One of the biggest challenges with creating courses about money is differing opinions about what is important for students to learn, and what is best left to be learned on your own.
Because of this, I opened up the forum to the readers and said I would post their thoughts about what a money course should entail if they were good.
Well, of course they were.
Here are some of my favorites:
Ryan @ Planting Dollars:
I always thought high schoolers should go through a class simply titled “why?” to discuss why they do the things they do. Related to that they could figure out what their goals are in finer detail and then from that be inspired to learn about money.
The only reason I care about money is because of the freedom and ability to achieve my dreams associated with that. Therefore I think more than anything inspiration and making kids realize through proper money management they can achieve their dreams is more important.
Len @ Len Penzo:
Believe it or not, when I was in school we learned how to balance a checkbook in the 4th grade. Not sure when that disappeared from the curriculum but it needs to return.
I think you need to add to your basic curriculum the most important rule of all after learning how to balance that checkbook. The Rule of 72! It is a very versatile tool that I use quite often to help me make quick estimates on interest-related problems.
William @ Business is Personal (Finance):
Seems like might end up being another “blame the teachers” scenario if PF classes don’t produce a turnaround. Let’s just say I’m unsure of how receptive students will be.
Joe @ Personal Finance By The Book:
I have been pro-active in helping my local high school teach our seniors about finance. I purchased a Dave Ramsey high school curriculum that our high school has integrated into a “Resource Management” class…a requirement for all seniors.
The class is a scaled down version of Dave’s Financial Peace University, complete with DVDs of him giving the talks and worksheets that fit the talks. The class is called Foundations in Personal Finance…you can learn more here:http://www.daveramsey.com/school/foundations/
The beauty is that Dave is doing the teaching, so the content is not left to some teacher who might not have a clue.
Bret @ Hope to Prosper:
Back when I went to high school they did teach some personal finance, along with auto shop, home economics and a number of other usefull subjects that are gone today.
We had a mandatory “Life Skills” class. And, we had an imaginary checking account that we got paid in, then had to write out checks to pay all of our imaginary bills. It was awesome and it should still be required. Of course, it would need to be updated, since people didn’t have many credit cards, student loans or online banking, back in ‘82.
I would just add there should be some discussion of insurance. Everyone has to buy auto insurance, and most people will someday either need to or want to buy homeowners/renters insurance, not to mention life insurance and all the other kinds of insurance that are out there.
A student should be able to understand various limits of auto insurance, the differences in type of homeowners insurance (HO3 vs. HO6) for instance, and in general how insurance functions. Many people think all insurance is the same, and shop on price or funny commercials only, and they don’t realize what the actual coverage they are getting is. It isn’t until it is too late and a loss already occurred that somebody realizes they didn’t have nearly the right amount of insurance.
Terry @ Transition Your Life:
I’d suggest the students have practical assignments such as tracking what they currently spend over the weeks and then having in class discussions on how their choices effect their spending habits. Hearing how their peers spend or save can be eyeopening.
Anther projects – such as how much does it cost to “feed” you and your “baby” – might be a good investigation and discussion topic.
I’d also suggest the teens become familiarized with aggregates such as http://www.mint.com that help track spending.
Discussion on tracking spending and saving is an important component for today’s students. They are less likely to write checks, or balance their checking account. Most today rely on what the ATM or online banking account tells them.
Gail @ Wide Island View:
It’d probably also be useful to give students a primer on stock market investing. It’d be interesting to do a class competition where students pretend to invest in stocks and see who comes out on top in the end.
And, I feel a little silly suggesting this, but I also wonder if it’d be worth it to touch on retirement saving. I imagine retirement is the last thing on the minds of high school students but it won’t be long before they actually have to make decisions about contributing to 401Ks or Roths. And of course it’s best to start saving as early as possible.
A huge thanks to all of the readers for their input. I”ll update this post with more reader comments from the original post as they come in.
Now, a new question for you:
What’s the next step to getting a money course in to a high school? Thoughts, questions, concerns, opinions – leave them in the comments.
Photo: Kevin Dooley