For a hot second there I thought the reason why I struggled with personal finance was just because I’m 19. I’m a baby adult, I don’t have a steady income. My finances are merely based off part-time jobs and my refund check at the beginning of each semester.
Then I realized my age has little to do with the issue. Education on finances is not required for American’s upon high school graduation, which when you think about it, makes NO sense. Why not require people to take classes on budgeting, taxes, 401k’s and more?
We all have to grow up to be operating adults in society. We currently have this system set in place where your relatives are responsible for teaching you about finances. Which I guess makes sense, but what if your parents are still struggling to figure it out?
My friends and their relationships with their parents, in terms of money, range from zero expectations to their moms taking them shopping at each turn of the season. As an outsider, and as someone who doesn’t expect help from their parents, this can be incredibly frustrating to witness.
I was thrown into this money-world with no training, besides the car payment I was responsible for in high school since my parents made me pay for my own car. My mindset on money was, “have at least $500 in your savings account,” and “don’t spend more than $100 a week.” Since I moved to Chicago for school, I no longer work a waitressing job and this mindset doesn’t really work anymore.
In a study conducted by Next-Gen Personal Finance, a non-profit working to provide free financial education to high school students found that only 16.4 percent of high school students are required to take a personal finance class in order to graduate.
The study analyzed 13 million students from 11,000 high schools nationwide.
Something else that caught my eye was the fact that of the 11,000 high schools, 64.7 percent of students attend a high school that offers at least one personal finance class. So the opportunities are there but on an at-will basis.
Requiring these courses is where we as a country can fix our financial instability. In a Forbes article by Dani Pascarella, she mentioned four areas of improvements Americans could be making.
From the article, Pascarella made the point that 44 percent of Americans don’t have enough to cover a $400 emergency. If I was still living by my “$500 in your savings account” policy, then I’d literally have $100 to my name.
I hope this article can serve as a heads up to parents, teachers and other college students who have little to no clue on what they’re doing. Money wise, Americans are struggling to make smart budget-friendly decisions and this isn’t a consequence of their own.
Money is stressful, so I understand why most people avoid confrontation with it as much as they can. However, just like you’d invest in a weekend out with friends to escape from class and work, try investing in your spending habits.
While some of us aren’t in high school anymore and don’t have the opportunity to squeeze a personal finance course into our schedule, we do have other options. YouTube channels, books, online courses, courses at a local community college, etc, etc, etc. The opportunities are out there, as long as you’re making the conscious effort to pursue them.