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This is why Personal Finance should be Taught in School

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I am a firm believer in experiential learning. I think it’s the most effective learning one can do. As Nike would say “just do it.” This type of learning is something I implemented in every single school subject I taught as a homeschooler and something I use in my discipline…natural consequences.

But I tell you know, watching the twins go through the moving out process and navigating the steep learning curve that is adulthood makes it very clear that personal finance should definitely be a subject taught in schools. And I’m not just talking about creating a budget, preparing for taxes, etc. But just the basic life lessons that we aren’t necessarily prepared for…

  1. How much money should one save to move out? And what are all the little costs no one thinks about. It’s not just how much is the rent.
  2. What all do I need to do to move out? Daily and Emergency Preparedness.
  3. What can I skimp on versus what should I spend some money on? Values and Quality.
  4. Application fees, deposits, utilities and all those little things that are taken for granted when you live with mom and dad ie what is always in the cupboards…
  5. Oh, and insurance, we can’t forget insurance. Car insurance, renter’s insurance and so on.

Lease Signed & Utilities Set Up

They asked me to accompany them to sign the lease. I wanted to make sure they read the fine print, knew what they were committing to and came away with a copy of it. We then made a plan of action for them to get utilities set up and walked through that process.

Signing their lease and visiting with a local cat. Any guesses on how long they will last without getting their own animal?

I sent them on their way to go through the process. But I did make sure they knew what to expect. And more important, knew what day to turn things on versus paying for utilities for a week before they move in while the owners are there doing clean up and maintenance.

This lesson has also hit home with watching Beauty learn lessons that we would consider every day knowledge. Those “ah-ha” moments are fun to see, but also very sad as she turns 18 in just a couple of months and is ill prepared for adult life.


27 Comments

    • Reply Hope |

      Yes, it should; unfortunately, there are a lot of parents who are ill prepared themselves. *raises hand
      I have definitely failed miserably in the retirement planning and paying off debt.

  • Reply Anonymous |

    You’re awfully smug for someone who is financially struggling herself…for most of her adult life nonetheless. And as the “school” for your kids, any failings fall directly in your lap. You should be proud of your boys for moving out and having jobs during the pandemic while most of America is still struggling. But nope – you take every opportunity to cut them down and make snide remarks. I hope they do well on their own in their own space that costs little more than what they were paying you to sleep in the living room.

    • Reply Hope |

      Ha, you think them moving out is costing them little more than the money I was charging them? That’s funny. Not only will they be paying at least double that for their 4 walls, but that doesn’t include food, laundry, insurance and so much more.

      And while the room they share here is technically the living room, it is no different than any of the other bedrooms except it has an outside door and is at least twice the size. Believe me, they have no complaints.

      I went back and looked at your previous comments to me and you seem to take personal issue with me. I realize our way of life, nontraditional as we tend to be, doesn’t sit well with others, but my kids are thriving, they are each succeeding in their own ways and they all know how proud I am of them. And as a foster parent for almost 11 years now, with over 11 kids through my home, I certainly feel qualified to write this post of how this type of “life skill” should be taught in school. It’s an eye opening experience even for my twins who have 1) had a Dave Ramsey personal finance class in high school and 2) taken a finance class in college.

      • Reply Anonymous |

        I have no personal issue with a person I dont know, just speaking the truth. You boys are paying $150 more per month for their own apartment (which I’m sure you’ll feel the need to argue below how it is much more than that and they were getting such a great deal at your home).

      • Reply Anonymous |

        Adding to above – what is the “non-traditional” life you’re referring to? Is that why you think you get negative feedback? Homeschooling isn’t uncommon..working from home isn’t unusual… many parents raise children as single parents. So what is unique in your situation honestly?

  • Reply Anon |

    You know, if folks are constantly getting the impression that you seem very contemptuous of two of your children from reading your own words, perhaps that’s a call to evaluate why they’re getting that impression. Your comment on the other post that they’re doing well because they got presents from “do gooders” that your other kids didn’t get is horrifying to me. They lost their FAMILY. Have you ever given them with help with that incredibly formative trauma and whatever other traumas led up to it instead of sniping at them about not going to college and playing too many video games?

  • Reply Cheryl |

    As a parent I feel it is my job to talk with my kids about money, saving, and as they get old enough to move out savings and utilities. A 17 year old needs to worry about school and his education not moving out.

    • Reply Hope |

      See, I think they do need to start thinking about what is next…whether it’s moving out or pursuing future education. And a big part of what’s next is the money aspect…

      By the way, Beauty is a girl, not sure who you were referring to with “his education.”

  • Reply jj |

    Y’all sound big hurt about someone you are not invested in. the “do gooders” comment is true to Hope – generous folks were able to give the twins things she could not, in light of the fact they had lost their family. Hope complaining about video game playing is so many parent’s reality when their kid lives at home, as an adult but pays very little towards the home – not a unique experience there. and we told her in the comments it was time to let that stuff go, and she acknowledged she needed to release on it.

    some of the folks who used to criticize her, now leave comments praising her – they are finally seeing some growth too. at the end of the day, ya’ll don’t pay her bills and the comments will not change who she is. she has made tons of mistakes, frigged things up royally in many ways – if you despise it so much, don’t come here and read anymore – it is that simple.

  • Reply Misti Olszewski |

    Hope – Do not pay attention to trolls who sit behind the “Anonymous” or “Anon” tag and attack you. I am certain that rent, electricity, internet, groceries, water and renters insurance all add up to way more than $150 a month they were paying you. Glad to see they have taken financial classes but you are right, budgeting and balancing a check book used to be addressed in Home Ec but a lot of schools have done away with that subject or made it optional. Keep you head up Children should not be treated as equals they should be treated fairly as they each have different needs that should be addressed. Keep your head up.

    • Reply Anon |

      How does using jj, or Misti make a person any less anonymous? The name associated with a comment on a blog is irrelevant. Hope doesn’t know people any differently just because they have a “real” name attached.

      • Reply jj |

        if you so stand by what you say, use your name or a nickname. folks know what they’re doing when they use anonymous. ya’ll sound big hurt, send Hope some $$ and books on how to educate kids/young adults about money if you’re so concerned. otherwise you just sound like super bitter haters.

        • Reply jj |

          Folks are big mad, and sound even worse when they use anonymous. Meanwhile, send her some $$$ if you are sooo concerned.

  • Reply Katie |

    Well, let’s not load this one on the schools. They’re already trying to teach academics and provide social work, nutrition & health services. This one can be on us parents. Although, plenty of middle and high schools do have life skills classes.

  • Reply Ellen |

    I think that it is the parents’ responsibility to show their children how to properly manage their personal finances. When you are in high school making pennies part time, you are not thinking about the debt you may or may not get yourself into in a few years. You can be taught about your credit and savings, and retirement,in school. But that will go in one ear and out the other. You take each life situation and teach them as they go. When my kids started working, their dad and I showed them the importance of saving. How it was easier to get the things you want when you have a nest egg under you. They weren’t allowed to just spend it as they pleased. They were made to save. When it came to getting their first cars, they had money saved and were able to buy what they wanted without us worrying about them being stuck on the side of the road with a beater. We also didn’t have to deal with the sense of entitlement that kids have these days where they feel their parents somehow owe them a car just because they got their license. As they get older, you teach them about their credit. What sorts of things lower it, what helps to increase it. You teach them the importance of having your credit at a good standing and what it can do for them. You teach them how their debt to income ratio is also extremely important. You teach them to not try to keep up with the Jones’ and to always live within their means. Just because someone will finance it for you, does not mean that it’s a good thing for you. You teach them about compounding interest and how it can be both a good and bad thing. etc etc etc. If you want your children to be successful, it’s your job to instill important life practices into them. While we all had those teachers that we loved and taught us one or two valuable life lessons, we can’t expect the most important ones to be taught outside of the home. JMO.

  • Reply Deb |

    Teaching money management is a “life skill” that everyone should have some kind of knoweldge on. Should it be up to the schools to teach it? Should it be up to the parent to teach it? It could be that a combination of both would be helpful in some situations. I don’t feel that a financial class in high school or a class in college is enough for anyone to learn and practice with. For some it can take one or two classes and they get it, for others it can take a lifetime to learn how to budget.

    Folks are able to learn at any age how to budget. It’s best to learn young in hopes that there’s no struggles in the future but as we all know life happens. Life happens a lot and when we least expect it.

    • Reply Jen |

      It’s a parent’s responsibility to make sure that their children are being prepared for being an adult. If they are attending school (public or private) that means overseeing what the child is actually learning, WHILE ALSO reinforcing and supplementing those lessons at home. If the child is being taught at home, then it is 100% the parent’s responsibility.

      It’s like when a teenager gets/gives an STI, or becomes/gets someone pregnant, and the parent (who probably opposed sex ed in school to start with) goes “Didn’t they teach you about this in school?!”.

  • Reply Mrs. H |

    Americans, PLEASE STOP SUGGESTING THAT SCHOOLS CAN/SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING. I’ll stop “yelling” now.

  • Reply Mary |

    I taught high school personal finance and life skills classes for many years, so naturally I am all for financial education. However, here are two things I have noticed from personal experience:

    1) We all know that many middle-aged people are resistant to the notion of saving for retirement. Well, try convincing a 16-year-old that it is important! It is really, really hard to get teens to realize that they, too, will one day have grown-up issues like taxes, mortgages, retirement, etc. Some ‘get it’, but many don’t.

    2) While we can teach consumer and money management skills at school, the real learning happens at home. Kids, on a daily basis, see how their parents deal with money issues…. good or bad. Those are the ‘lessons’ they are likely to take with them.

    (I’m not directing this to Hope or anyone else…. just sharing my views on financial education.)

  • Reply Isabella |

    Money management and teaching finances should be on the parents. This was something my husband and I were committed to with our four children. And one of the best ways to do this is by example. Believe me, a frugal lifestyle is more caught than taught. It did not mean we were penny pinching misers. But they saw that eating out was a real treat. They saw mom pick up good clothes and toys at garage sale. They saw dad handle car repairs himself etc. As they got older, we talked more about credit card hazards, saving money, budgeting etc. Seriously, I think trying to put the onus on the schools is just an excuse for parents not doing the job themselves. No excuses, parents. Do your job, even if it means cleaning up your own finances!

    • Reply Hope |

      I agree with all the commenters saying this SHOULD be taught at home and yes, leading/teaching by example is the best method.

      HOWEVER, after now 12 foster kids through my home, I can tell you that it is not. And because all the foster kids I have taken are teens and up…well, big issue. And definitely part of the issue with the generational reliance on government assistance.

      That is why I do think it personal finance should be a mandatory class in school. There are just too many kids who do not have that education at home.

      • Reply Isabella |

        Hope, forget about those other kids out there. Concentrate on the ones in your home now. Why is it that the twins are not ready to handle finances and that Princess is “ill prepared for adult life?.” The twins have been with you since age 12 and your daughter her entire life. No, that financial preparedness was on you. Why are you trying to put this on the school? You had years to teach this to your kids!

  • Reply jj |

    Neither of my parents taught me about budgets etc. As I have gotten older, my mom has tried to show me some stuff which has been super useful and I observe her. I am not sure a class would have changed much for me personally, but it could help kids who don’t have parents to model responsible choices.

So, what do you think ?