In an effort to bring financial education into more classrooms and promote fiscal responsibility among high school students, Discover Financial Services, a recognized leader in the financial education space, and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, today announced their collaboration to launch Pathway to Financial Success in Schools.
A variety of studies conducted over the last couple of years on the financial acumen of young people arrived at the same basic conclusion—they don’t know enough. It’s a problem for them individually, and as they move into a financially complex world they will come to dominate demographically, it’s a potential problem for the nation itself. In a 2016 study by PricewaterHouseCoopers and George Washington University of 5,500 millennials born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, only 5 percent answered five out of five questions related to financial literary and only 24 percent got three correct.
The piggy bank is still most kids’ initial introduction to saving money. I bought each of my children their own piggy bank when they were babies. As a parent, I know the critical role I play in teaching important money lessons, and it doesn’t stop with the piggy bank. It gets more challenging as children come of age and start asking questions about credit, investments and even retirement.
There’s a financial-literacy crisis in the U.S. And it is probably even worse than it seems. Even if people know financial facts, they often don’t understand why they may be investing the way they do, and what their behavior means for their current and future well-being.
It’s never too early to start working on financial literacy. That’s why Allison Bartels, compliance officer at Oak Brook, Ill.-based Leaders Bank, enjoys sharing her knowledge with local school students. A bank’s drive to improve financial literacy isn’t limited to working with their own customers. Many banks participate in community-based financial literacy programs to train the community at large about banking and finance, Bartels says. Those efforts strive to educate youth about personal finance to ready them for entry into the work force. The educational effort extends to adults as well.
Wherever schools are on the financial literacy education continuum, selecting the right resources can help them make progress. Financial literacy, and the role of K-12 schools in promoting it, is getting lots of attention these days. To date, some states have developed standards for teaching financial literacy, but where do schools turn for resources to implement those standards and who do they turn to for advice on what aspects of money management they should teach and when?
Traditionally, students must complete math, English and science credits to graduate from high school. At Oconomowoc High School in Wisconsin, seniors must now also learn about 401(k)s before they earn their caps and gowns. Starting with this year’s freshman class, personal finance will be a required course for students at Oconomowoc High School. The nine-week class meets for 90 minutes every weekday, and students earn a half credit for passing. Using data from financial trends, the curriculum has been designed to help students with issues they will face in the real world, including taking out and paying off student loans, using credit cards, reading and signing leases, plus investing and saving.
Online daters might have better luck finding Mr. or Ms. Right if they swap out the profile picture of their expensive car with an image of their credit score, according to a recent survey by Discover and Match Media Group.
Many young people grow up unprepared to face a world where they are increasingly in charge of their own financial well-being. A June 2015 assessment by the National Endowment for Financial Education, “Overconfident and Underprepared: The Disconnect Between Millennials and Their Money,” noted that this generation is in a “fragile” financial position compounded by their well-publicized educational debt. The report calls for greater access to financial education.
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