Making the Best of Your Financial Education
The statistics speak for themselves. Americans are woefully under-informed about their finances -- especially younger folks. The financial literacy of high school students has fallen to its lowest level ever with a score of just 48.3%.
The average score for college students on the same 31 question exam, however, was 62.2%, nearly 15 percentage points above that of high school seniors.
In addition, scores improved for every year of college, with seniors averaging 64.8%. The good news is that American college graduates are close to being financially literate and probably will be so with more life experience.
The bad news is that just 25% of our young adults are graduating from college, and this number appears to have stabilized. This means that 75% of young American adults are likely to lack the skills needed to make beneficial financial decisions.
There are many personal finance classes available to anyone who cares to search them out. But for the most part, knowing what the difference between credit and debt is and a general overview of banking and financial terms won’t necessarily translate into making better financial decisions, according to Richard Cordray, director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“People have to understand where they may need to go and get more information," Cordray explains. “Experiential learning," Cordray says, "has been shown to be very effective at reaching young people." (Experiential learning, such as following the stock market or getting lots of credit card offers and comparing them. Seeing the information in context and how it applies to the real world).
Other studies have shown that requiring high-schoolers to take more math would promote better financial decisions which in turn would positively impact their financial lives.
It doesn’t take an expert to see how two and two add together here. Giving a person a better grasp of math in general will allow them to understand concepts that relate to math in their future.
For instance, teaching a high school student about mortgages is somewhat pointless, but if they understand math, then when the time comes, mortgages won’t become a scary idea that can’t be understood.
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