Today’s teenagers may be more money-wise than you think
Teenagers who completed a personal finance class in high school would rather put $500 in the bank than buy a smartphone.
You read that right. With personal finance education under their belts, students are three times as likely to choose saving money over buying a cell phone. In an age of texting, Snapchatting and Instagramming – that’s kind of a miracle.
Our team surveyed more than 76,000 high school students from across the nation last year to learn how teens think and feel about money. Here’s what we discovered about American high school students who completed a personal finance class before graduation:
They’re confident about handling their money: students report feeling confident when it comes to budgeting (95 per cent), saving money (94 per cent) and investing (87 per cent).
They may earn more money than you think: almost two-thirds said they are working and earning an average of $3,000 per year.
They’re thinking about ways other than student loans to pay for college: students said their top college funding sources include scholarships (69 per cent), help from their parents (53 per cent) and personal funding/themselves (51 per cent).
They understand the pitfalls of student loans: 94 per cent of them know how student loans work (a.k.a. they know they must pay them back – with interest).
So, what about the students who didn’t take a personal finance class? The study found they were twice as likely to say they did not understand how student loans work. Can you imagine signing up for decades of interest payments before you’re even old enough to rent a car?
Maybe you can. Maybe you did.
That’s what I want to see change.
The role of teachers and parents
Today’s teachers have the power to help students begin their lives ahead of the curve. Our educators have an important job preparing high school students for the future. Whether young people go to college or enter the workforce sooner, they all need to learn how to manage their money wisely.
Currently, very few states require students to take a stand-alone personal finance course before graduation. But why wait for legislators to craft new requirements? Change starts with willing educators who are ready to impact and empower a generation to win with money.
Parents are an important part of the equation, too. They can get involved by writing to legislators, and encouraging them to implement or expand personal finance requirements where they live. Parents can also make it a point to teach money skills at home, where lifelong learning truly begins.
Let’s teach our students how to succeed academically and financially. If they can see the wisdom of choosing savings over smartphones as teens, just imagine all the wise money decisions they’ll be equipped to make as adults!
• After winning $500,000 in scholarships and graduating from her dream school with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, Kristina Ellis set out to help students create their own plan to earn a debt-free education. She’s the bestselling author of Confessions of a Scholarship Winner and How to Graduate Debt-Free and a Ramsey Personality