If we want a prosperous future for the next generation, we need to provide them with a strong financial education. Teachers and parents need an accessible, integrated on-ramp to launch students into a lifetime of healthy financial habits.
Developmentally-appropriate financial learning
Instilling good financial habits can begin at any age. Researchers from the University of Michigan determined that children as young as five have feelings about spending and saving. Educators can start early with animated videos for the youngest elementary school students, and grow to financial literacy modules that weave into high school curriculums. For a five-year-old, budgeting might look like dividing money they receive into jars for spending, saving and sharing. As they get older, that foundation makes more complicated financial concepts significantly more digestible for young people.
The role of families
Just 64% of high school students have access to a standalone course in personal finance. Of those, only 16% are required to take it. That means there’s a good chance it’s completely up to parents to teach kids about money management. But with surveys that suggest parents of teens feel more comfortable talking to their kids about sex, drugs and alcohol than finance, there’s a clear need for resources to help parents communicate good financial habits to their children. Organizations like Jackson Charitable Foundation, Discover, PwC, USAA and others are leading the way in empowering schools and families with the personal finance education they need to build financially-savvy young adults.
Society can help
Over half of young people ages 6-25 already report having some sort of debt, and millennials average $36,000 in debt. Organizations like Discovery Education collaborate with leading financial institutions, foundations and non-profits to create scalable financial education tools that integrate into core curriculum. As citizens, we can all ask our public schools and our local and national governments to push for the inclusion of personal money management courses in schools.