Should Business & Personal Finance Be Taught at School?

Should Business & Personal Finance Be Taught at School?

What business & personal finance advice do you wish had been taught to you when you were at school? Isn’t the purpose of education to prepare children for the real world?

I believe that all children should learn basic business & personal finance skills from the age of twelve to sixteen years. Why not teach children how mortgages and pensions work? Everybody needs a place to live and if they have a long life, they will need to retire one day.

Schools should teach their students how to manage credit card debts. They should be taught how credit card companies make their money by charging extortionate amounts of interest far higher than a personal loan to people that pay late.

Students should learn how to negotiate and barter. After all they are going to be doing this every day for the rest of their lives. What about learning the difference between mark up and profit margin?

Learning how to handle money would be the best compulsory course at school. If you add a class like “Business & Personal Finance” and make it standard for all children, then what subject would you remove or do less off?

I had a period a day of Latin. This has been pretty much useless in my life. Has anybody benefited from learning Latin? I read about the Greek gods, translated old books and I must admit that after doing it for over 4 years, I only remember a handful of phrases now.

How many of you remember sweating over stuff like Algebra and Trigonometry? Has this been useful to you in life? Surely this does not need to be taught in such detail to every child & only needs to be taught to budding scientists and mathematicians?

I had art classes. Where they necessary? I was also taught how to knit and dance? What was the point of that? What about religious education? Shouldn’t this type of stuff be taught in Sunday school? Should this subject really be taught in school at all?

I am not advocating that we remove these subjects completely. As you can see it would be easy to teach slightly less of some other subjects to make space for one period a day of Business & Personal Finance for all older children.

Would this benefit the UK economy? I am sure it would. Imagine students leaving school understanding fixed and variable interest rate mortgages. They would have learnt how to manage their bank account and check their bank statements. Wouldn’t it be great if they knew how to calculate gross / net profit margins and compare one investment with another?

Many people will make the argument that this information should be taught by parents and not by schoolteachers. The problem is that many parents themselves do not understand basic concepts of personal finance! Some view their own personal finances as a private matter that should not even be discussed in front of the children.

What subjects do you think they should teach more of and which subjects should they teach less of to make room?

It is very important to notice that the current generation of young people is getting more and more involved into a lot of things which were either nonexistent or possible in the past. Besides the usual late night drive-in movie or mid-afternoon soccer practice, today’s technologically savvy youths can write a letter, talk to a friend, listen to a playlist of more than a thousand songs, update a social networking personal page, and send a letter of application to a favored university, all at the same time, and all this while squeezing a stress ball with one hand. It obviously shows that for today’s youth, a whole world of opportunities lies within their reach. But with opportunity comes corresponding responsibility. And, often, there is money involved. Now, more than ever, today’s generation of ecoboomers needs to know how to manage their personal finances, wisely and responsibly. That responsibility is emphasized even more for those enrolled in a university.

Take the case of an average college student. The day begins at around midnight with either a late night out together with friends with boxes of pizza with a lot of six packs, or a full-blown house party with beer kegs and the works. Night wears on, and the next morning reality kicks in with a vengeance. All those wasted money on beef jerky and nacho chips, now nothing but crumbs on the filthy floor. There’s laundry to do. Papers to finish. Food that was stocked up for the week is gone from the previous night’s party. There’s a trip to the nearest store to restock. If there is a car involved, there’s gas to think about (since there are practically no convenience store within reasonable distance from a university; for stores within campus, customers pay more than usual for this extra privilege of convenience). There remains the day ahead. There’s lunch and dinner. The overdue rates at the video store. That planned movie date the succeeding night. Not to mention the real responsibilities. Payment for rent electricity, heating and water bills not to mention tuition fees. And nothing but a limp, twisted wad of money intended to last for the rest of the week.

It is but human to succumb to the pressure of spending while there is money to spend it with. Even matured, responsible, emotionally stable adults fall for it, so why should young people be blamed for it? The real problem is the lack of education, both from adults and friends. The spending habits that start early on in life carry through to adulthood. A teenager who spends sixty dollars on a fad shirt now may spend several hundred for another later in life. These so-called little things tend to stack up and become a huge financial crisis. It is better for young people to learn how money does and does not work as soon as they gain their freedom in college, as soon as they get their student driver’s license, before they graduate from high school. The earlier, the better! Because in the real world of credit cards and mortgage payments, anyone who does not know how to stretch, squeeze, scrimp and save money for all its worth ends up in financial trouble, to say the least. And it is very disheartening to splurge all day with nothing to answer for it but candy wrappers, pizza boxes, dirty laundry and old magazines. Young people should learn more about taking care of personal finances, while they are still young and ready.

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