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My New Year's wish is for our country to provide all of our kids with the financial concepts and tools they deserve to make wise and informed financial choices.
The average household income for the bottom 90% of American families is $29,840. Knowing this, it's not hard to understand why 85% of parents want a stand-alone course in personal finance to be a high school graduation requirement. Our families want help for their kids, yet we continue to ignore them. Only four states require a stand-alone course in personal finance as a high school graduation requirement.
Every kid deserves a fair shot. By failing to equip them with the financial literacy skills and concepts they need to make informed financial choices, we are not giving them a fair shot. We are certainly not doing everything we can to close the inequality gap. As this research indicates, there is a direct correlation between an inequality of financial education and economic inequality.
The coursework I am alluding to is not just what they will need in the future, it is often what they need right now. For example...
• We are asking our children to make one of the biggest debt choices of their lives while still in high school, student debt. Student debt has now surpassed credit card debt - - it is $1 trillion. We owe it to our kids to incorporate resources like this one and this one in our classrooms to make sure they are making an informed college choice.
• Lots of high school students have jobs and pay taxes, but don't know how to fill out basic tax forms or file for themselves. It is time we begin integrating resources like this one so they understand how to manage their taxes.
• According to this research, the biggest mistake low-moderate income (LMI) Americans make is they do not have any emergency savings, often because they are unbanked. It baffles me that we do not teach our kids the importance of savings, or the power of compound interest using resources like this one.
• Many high school students are purchasing cars on their own, without any direction. We owe it to them to provide resources like this so they can make an informed choice.
• Of those who carry a balance on their credit card from one billing cycle to the next, the average credit debt is $15,418. When our high school students turn 18 they are eligible for a credit card, and if used wisely it can be a great tool for them to build their credit score. If used inappropriately, it can ruin their lives. It is time we start to teach kids to understand credit card solicitations and their credit bills using resources like this one.
• A lot of our high school students have trouble figuring out what career field would be a good fit for them. Resources like this one are very helpful, and we owe it to them to expose them to this information.
Let's make 2013 the year we commit to teaching to the whole child.