For 16 years, I have had the privilege of being surrounded by financially literate people. My parents know how to handle their finances, and of course, make sure I do too. My family carries an entrepreneurial spirit through owning a couple of businesses and starting their own ventures. Because of this, I gained a business perspective when venturing through life. I have worked in various fields and noticed that with every field comes a certain expectation of financial literacy. When I interned at a law office, I realized how pertinent finance was in this industry. Without financial mastery, the business would be incapable of sustaining itself. I became aware of this at an early age in my life. However, I noticed that many Americans still struggle with financial literacy.
I attend Brooklyn Technical High School, one of the largest schools in the United States. Brooklyn Tech is known to serve many purposes, and meet the interests of a wide variety of students. What I soon realized after entering high school was the lack of finance based clubs. My peers just didn’t seem interested in learning about finance. This seemed absurd to me; so I took my entrepreneurial spirit and started my own club, Virtual Investors. I was expecting to only recruit a small group of kids that are interested in learning about the finance industry. To my surprise, many kids showed up. Of course, I had to make the club interesting. I offered virtual stock market games, and Gen i Revolution, an online financial game. My peers developed a heavy interest in finance and I was pleased to have sparked the interest.
Today, Americans are struggling with their finances, largely because of financial illiteracy. Education about finance must be implemented at an early age. Financial literacy is not inherent, and many children are unfortunately born into a financially illiterate family. According to a 2008 financial literacy survey, almost fifty percent of those who closely monitor their finances say that they learned about personal finance from their parents or at home. In order to solve this problem, we must tackle it at its root. Government funded schools should begin implementing financial education classes in order to promote financial literacy. This prevalent concern must be addressed with the help of schools.
I encourage other students to take the leap and start their own clubs helping their peers learn about financial literacy. To make it through any field of work, being capable of handling finances is necessary.
Through these steps we could help the growing financially illiteracy rates in the U.S:
- implement financial classes
- create clubs promoting financial awareness
- offer financial lessons in the community for families with economic issues
- make saving plans available to students directly from their high school
The average U.S household consumer debt is approximately $185,000, considering student or credit loans and mortgage. This is a considerable amount of money, and is largely caused by a growing consumerism mentality. Americans are not saving their money, especially at an early age– when it is most imperative. Many young children do not save their money, and instead spend money instinctively. As a nation, we must break this habit and teach children to start saving their money at an early age. A chart provided by Sherwood Investments clearly depicts the value of saving money early.
Schools should take it upon themselves to teach students how to save for adulthood. The future of America rests upon the young generation. In order for America to prosper, the young must be financially educated.
As Robert Kiyosaki once said, “academic qualifications are important and so is financial education. They’re both important and schools are forgetting one of them.”