Add Another Duty to Your Parenting List

That’s Because Your Child Isn’t Learning About Money in School

So call me a zealot.

You’ve heard me expound on the importance of teaching your children about money and helping them develop basic financial skills.

I bring up this topic often because I’m passionate about it — and here is yet another opportunity to discuss it.

In 2011, the Council for Economic Education, whose mission is to promote K-12 economic and personal finance education in our nation’s schools, released its biennial “Survey of the States” showing how the 50 states and District of Columbia are doing.

The results are bleak.

Only 22 states require that students take a course in economics. Only 14 states require a high school course in personal finance to be offered. (That’s actually one fewer than the previous study in 2009.) And only 16 states require student testing in economic concepts before graduation. (Ironically, 19 had this requirement in 2009 — meaning we’re going backward!)

Now you see why I push you to teach financial skills to your children. If you don’t, no one will.

Everyone knows that print literacy — the ability to read and write — is necessary to function in today’s society, but financial literacy is equally critical. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, the amount of education children receive on personal finance and managing money determines how successful they will be in handling their finances throughout their lives.

And according to the CEE study, students from the 14 states where financial education courses are required had the highest financial knowledge and were more likely to display positive financial behaviors. Compared to other students, these young adults are:

  • More likely to save
  • Less likely to max out their credit cards
  • Less likely to make late credit card payments
  • More likely to pay off credit cards in full each month
  • Less likely to be compulsive buyers
  • More likely to be willing to take average, reasonable financial risk

If your child’s school does not require economics and personal finance courses, urge your school administrators to make such courses part of the curriculum.

Until they do, start talking to your children about money as soon as they are able to ask questions. Keep the dialog going — covering financial concepts appropriate to their age level — throughout their K-12 years, their college years and even after they’re adults living on their own.

Your family will be richer for it — and not just literally.

Originally published in Inside Personal Finance November 2012

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