We now live in an economy that is challenging to say the least. Jobs are lost and mortgages are foreclosed on. People file bankruptcy because they are cornered by debt and find no other way out. It is this environment that our kids face when they graduate from school even before they go to college. Poor financial decisions at an early age can literally haunt you for the rest of your life. What are students being taught and what is expected of them? I have covered what is expected at grades four and eight; now it is time to look at where a student should be when they graduate from high school, or, grade twelve.
Our guide is a National Standard set by Jump$tart Coalition. You should be able to measure from this article whether or not your graduate or twelfth grader understands the basics of finance with respect to the key task alluded to below.
Teaching kids about money is a complex and exhaustive task. It is made up of many parts and it is important to “take the temperature” of the student along the way to make sure the knowledge is being obtained.
The first task is “Financial Responsibility and Decision Making.” This task is further broken down into six “standards” designed to teach the student about personal responsibility, evaluating financial information, understanding consumer protection laws, understanding the breadth of possible financial decisions, developing communication strategies and controlling personal information. It is a lot to learn and this is just under the umbrella of one task.
At graduation it is expected that a student can discuss how a person can obtain financial well-being. Further the student should be able to discuss the difference in providing for dependents and being on your own. This is simply the first point.
Next a student should be able to evaluate various sources of financial information. They should be able to work through a scenario given to them randomly and also should be able to identify various types of consumer fraud.
The third “standard” demands that the graduate understand consumer protection laws and from this information write an effective complaint letter.
This next standard I consider the most difficult and it certainly has plagued me throughout the years. Take the time to garner information and then after having studied and discussed it make a decision. Just thinking about something for awhile will give you a better track record.
The fifth standard is all about discussing finances with a roommate or other family member. This of course gives a person practice for marriage.
Finally a graduate should be able to know what entities are entitled to their Social Security number and other key personal information and which ones are not.
There are more specifics under the standards but if the above facets are known then it is likely everything required is in place.
Do you see the pattern in this program? Under “Financial Responsibility and Decision Making” the graduate knows how to identify financial responsibility and take it. Then they know how to identify good sources of finance. Further they can share the information as well as study it. Finally they know how to disseminate personal information.
It is important to remember that financial problems are one of biggest reasons for divorce.
Looking back over my life I wish I would have had some basic training in school. However I didn’t so I had to learn the hard way and it wasn’t always pleasant.
Measure your child’s financial acumen all the way through school. Additionally teach them all you know about money. It is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give to them.
Personal Experience and Knowledge
“Financial Responsibility and Decision Making,” Article, “Twelfth Grade Additional Expectations,” Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, Charles Schwab