The old argument about taking algebra in high school if you’ll never need it later brings up an interesting point — exactly what is important, and how do you decide?
First, algebra is important, even if you don’t plan to go to college. The logic required to succeed with algebra helps in all facets of life.
But what about the things every adult will use every day?
The most common could arguably be money. And if money is part of every adult’s life, it only makes sense to start teaching personal finance as soon as possible.
Here are 3 reasons why personal finance should be taught at the high school level:
Money Management Is A Learned Skill
Knowledge is power. No one is born understanding how to manage money, and not every parent has a strong financial foundation for kids to learn from at home.
Financial planning at the high school level can empower students with skills that their lives at home can’t.
There are differing views on whether financial planning taught in high school has any lasting effect on money management as children grow into adults.
Forbes argues that while financial planning at the high school level seems like a good idea, additional math classes in high school do more to help.
But one doesn’t need to exclude the other. Financial planning with additional math in high school gives students more skills to understand not just how numbers work, but how they apply to managing money.
The Sooner Education Starts, The Better
Once habits are formed, they’re hard to break.
The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants has taken action at the high school level in the Greater Philadelphia area.
In a yearly series of money management programs, PICPA volunteers work with students to help them understand basic financial concepts, such as “pay yourself first,” and the fundamentals of making a personal budget.
If the value of such a program seems uncertain, the reaction of students to learning about taxes should clear the waters. Most of them were shocked to see just how much taxes reduce their take-home pay.
That can be a hard lesson learned later in life, or an empowering one to students who are just starting out.
Awareness Of The Bigger Concepts That Most Adults Will Face
Math skills allow anyone to calculate interest, deduct pay withholdings, and understand whether there’s enough money in the bank to afford a purchase or pay a bill.
However, there are many financial concepts that are entirely foreign, even to some adults.
Some programs, such as Money as You Learn, are designed to teach students about concepts such as compound interest, investment risk evaluation, debt management, goal setting, and determining the difference between needs and wants.
Think about a first-time home or vehicle loan.
A student who has learned about amortization will have a better understanding of the total cost when taking on a large purchase, and that helps hem make better choices when faced with those decisions later in life.
Financial planning at the high school level can’t turn all students into money-management dynamos, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Combined with more math classes, students have the ability to understand their pay after graduation, and even the weight of student loan debt if they go on to college.
Education is rarely a bad thing, and adult life revolves around finances.
With financial planning taught at the high school level, students have the opportunity to enter adulthood armed with a better understanding of how money works, and how to make it work for them.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.