Why we should Teach High School Kids about Finances

It used to be that high school students needed to know how to add and subtract, multiply and divide, and that was pretty much it, because they wouldn’t really use anything more mathematical than that. But that was before mortgages, and car payments and credit cards; or IRA’s, and easy access to the stock market. Things are much different now, but we haven’t adjusted the types of things that are kids are being taught, and thus, it’s no wonder that so many people wind up making financial mistakes that can cost them their credit status, or worse their homes. This is why high school students should have lessons in financial responsibility.

Consider for example, that first year college students, still fresh out of high school, are now routinely given applications for credit cards which are almost automatically approved for the majority of students. Then consider the number of students that now graduate four years later with a mountain of debt, a lot of which had nothing to do with paying for tuition or room and board. Had they been given lessons of financial responsibility in high school, it’s likely they would have known better and thus would not be putting their futures at risk before they even have much of a chance to get a good one started.

Also, consider how many people, whether they go to college or not, at some point find themselves wanting to buy a home. They go shopping and see how much houses cost, but don’t know how much they can afford because they’ve never been taught. They then sit down with someone they believe to be an expert in their field who tells them they can afford a certain amount of payments per month. They look uncomprehendingly at the math that is shown them, then directed to sign on the bottom line. Then, a couple of years later when balloon payments start to kick in, they lose their home, their credit standing and a lot of their pride.

Again, had these people been taught some very simple financial basics in high school, they never would have signed such an agreement in the first place.

We are literally putting people’s lives at risk by not giving them a proper financial education at a time when they can most use it, before they mess up their lives. Instead, we pat them on the back and send them naively into a world that they are unprepared to deal with, and then shake our heads when they make mistakes. It’s time to change this, and to begin teaching our high school students the stuff they need to learn to navigate the financial waters of our modern economy.