Our high school students take geometry, calculus, algebra, sex education, chemistry, and a variety of elective courses, but the one thing they really need to survive in a competitive world, is the fundamentals of finance, and they’re not getting it.
I remember asking my teachers why I had to take algebra and geometry since I had no plans for using that kind of information. No one had an answer. And, truthfully, in all the years I have been alive, I only used algebra once, and that was to teach myself something I wanted to learn.
In those days, women were discouraged from learning anything about money. When we asked questions about it, we were told not to worry our pretty little heads about something that men would take care of for us.
The sad realization hit us when we entered marriages and discovered that the husband knew nothing about money. Suddenly, their lack of knowledge about finances and our lack of incentive to learn it, accounted for a lot of bad investments, overspending, and credit card debt.
There were so many women who didn’t know how to write a check or how to reconcile a bank statement; their husbands didn’t know the fundamentals about budgeting or income vs. expenses.
Actually, the women didn’t know much about budgeting, either. As long as she was told not to worry her pretty little head about money and that her husband would take care of their finances, she got into the habit of spending money she didn’t have.
I was lucky. I grew up in a house where finances were discussed on a daily basis and I was exposed to The Wall Street Journal and stocks and bonds from childhood on, but I was terrible in math. Fortunately, for me, I did learn how to write a check and balance a checkbook but I was in the minority; most men and women in my day didn’t know how to do that.
Money problems are at the root of most marital arguments yet, even today, children are not taught how to handle money. They know how to charge items but they don’t know how to budget for them or how much interest they’re paying for putting them on credit cards.
We need financial literacy programs in the high school curriculum. Our children need to learn how to be fiscally responsible.