Finances are arguably one of the most important aspects of a person’s life. The ability to manage money, create a budget, and stay out of debt has a direct impact on a person’s overall success.
Given the education level most people have today, it never ceases to amaze me how many people end up in financial trouble. All our lives we are taught various forms of math, from basics (addition) to more advanced and complicated methods (calculus). With math built into not only high school curriculum but college general education requirements, it is shocking to me that so many people lack the ability to get their finances in check. You would think knowing such complex methods of mathematics would make personal finance seem simple. Apparently, it doesn’t.
What baffles me is that the government made curriculum does not mandate that any student take a course on personal finance. Let’s face it, very few of us take our knowledge of calculus or trigonometry into the world. No one really cares if they have the ability to calculate how tall a flag pole is. What people do care about (or should care about) is their ability to manage their money.
Currently, the most common classes taught in high schools across the nation include:
Which class a student takes is dependent upon their skill level in math. Each course lasts the duration of a year. But what if these classes were replaced by more practical, life-skills math classes? And if they were, what classes would replace them?
Here are four classes that should be taught instead to help younger generations learn to manage their money better:
Budgeting- An overview of budgeting (how to create a budget, how to cut back on expenses, how to determine the difference between fixed and flexible expenses, and how to spend less than you make)
Cash Flow (Pre-Requisite = Budgeting)- An overview of gaining a clear idea of what your financial future looks like and how to make sure you don’t go into debt
Taxes- An overview of the confusing world of taxes (including what forms you need for different occupational statuses (i.e. self employed, full-time employee, etc), how to calculate how much you will owe in taxes, the different tax brackets, the differences between federal and state taxes, and deductions)
Investing- An overview of all investment options (including but not limited to stocks, bonds, real estate, and retirement)
There are many other courses that could be taught to students including courses on credit, loans, debt reduction, and frugality. Why these types of courses are not taught to high school and college students is completely beyond me.
If any of the above finance courses were taught to students, I believe without a doubt that people would be more financially savvy and responsible, but until the curriculum is changed, people are going to keep getting themselves into debt, be clueless on how to manage their money, and have a hard time being successful.