Last month we witnessed a truly historic moment in the life of financial literacy throughout Pennsylvania. Most notably this came through the state senate officially introducing legislation allowing high school students to apply personal finance credits towards graduation requirements. And although Senate Bill 723 must still go through the process of review and approval by the PA House Of Representatives, it is without a doubt a huge victory for those carrying the torch of financial education. Just earlier this year marketwatch.com reported a total of twenty states that require financial literacy for high school students. However, when we stop to consider the number of remaining states that still have not made this all important step in increasing financial awareness, there is clearly still much work to be done. Below are just a few of the reasons we all need to be pushing for greater financial literacy requirements in schools throughout our community.

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Finances Are Often Not Taught At Home (Or Mis-Taught)

Many of us can easily relate to not receiving the proper financial education early on in life. Although our parents had the best of intentions, most of us did not learn the key financial tools and resources necessary for survival until we were well out into the real world of debt, bills, and taxes. For a small, fortunate few this may not have been the case and everything that needed to be learned was taught ahead of time. However, given that 1 in 5 Americans has no money saved whatsoever, strong evidence suggests that a lack of financial knowledge is resulting in a lack of financial well-being in this country. Furthermore, since observing monetary behavior has long been our primary means of education, parents may not actually be the best source to tap into for financial guidance. That is why having a structured curriculum available in our schools would help benefit all through reinforcement of healthy financial habits.

 

Good Habits Are Directly Tied To Our Financial Well-Being

Developing sound financial habits may very well be the most important advantage of offering a personal finance curriculum in schools. For without learning such critical areas as saving, investing, insurance, and credit management it is nearly impossible to turn these concepts into repeatable actions. According to a study done in 2016, consumerfinance.gov reported that healthy saving habits was one of the key differences between people with high and low levels of financial well-being. Furthermore it was discovered that negative experiences with debt and credit was also highly correlated to a lack of financial well-being. Greater levels of financial well-being on the other hand, were found to be associated with strong financial knowledge and effective monetary behaviors.

 

A Healthy Learning Environment Is Critical To Financial Education

The final point worth noting in the push for financial education is the importance of early peer-to-peer learning. In fact, the state of New Jersey has already begun instituting financial education requirements for children as early as sixth grade. What this ultimately suggests is that the management of finances is not something that can be effectively taught or learned in a vacuum. Instead it requires being in an environment that is conducive to our growth while challenging the depth of our emotions and intellect. How valuable would any form of education be without the ability to interact, pose questions, and correct mistakes? Furthermore, how much more financially successful could we all be if we simply had the opportunity to ask the right questions at the right time? Each of us has a critical role to play in the financial advancement of our communities. And that all starts with having greater financial literacy requirements put into our schools all across the country.