These 4 Financial Topics Should Be Taught in Schools

A mixed race teenage girl is taking a high school standardized test in class.
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How many times have you thought, “I wish they taught me this in school” — especially when it comes to finances?

Crucial concepts surrounding money management are typically not covered in the average K-12 curriculum. This leaves us in the dark when it comes to making big financial decisions as adults.

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It’s not the teachers’ fault. In fact, teachers agree that our current education does not go deep enough when it comes to financial literacy. The teachers GOBankingRates spoke to either have observed a classroom without adequate financial lessons or have implemented them into their teaching. Either way, they saw a tremendous impact.

Here are the most important topics that should be taught in schools according to what real teachers told our team. 

How To Make a Budget

When it comes to financial literacy, it’s best to start at the beginning.

Teaching students the value of a dollar is something that Akanksha Bajaj really believes in. Bajaj is a former teacher and current curriculum director at Juni Learning, an online learning platform that’s helping bridge the gap between what’s taught in the classroom and what’s needed to thrive in the real world.

Building Wealth

Bajaj said teaching the basics of money management is key for success in the future.

“Budgeting is a concept that should be introduced early on to secure a financially secure future,” Bajaj said. “Introducing a course that touches on basic financial concepts from early on will spark students’ curiosity and build a strong foundation to learn additional concepts with more complex materials as they progress in their educational careers.”

Even if the curriculum does not include a course explicitly about budgeting, Bajaj said, it can be integrated into already existing courses in a seamless way. Bajaj recommends incorporating budgeting projects into math classes so students can see how far money goes in a real-life context. 

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How Mortgages Work

Most of the time, people aren’t educated on mortgages until they’re buying a home. It’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Plus, your decision impacts the rest of your life. The stakes are incredibly high. 

Sajan Devshi feels that teaching students about mortgage earlier in life could reduce the stress of buying a home when it comes time. Devshi, a teacher and the founder of Learndojo.org, underscores that buying a house is something most kids now think is a part of growing up, but they have no idea what goes into purchasing property.

Building Wealth

“We have a generation of young people now growing up that are being heavily influenced by social media and wanting to live a certain lifestyle,” Devshi said, “but (they) have very little awareness on how much big-ticket items such as homes cost and what it takes to be able to afford one now. I think this, in turn, comes as a bit of a shock when people get older and begin to realize the cost of everything — but also the fact that they should have started saving much earlier.” 

Robert Puharich has taught high school for 16 years and started TeenLearner.com, a website that provides financial literacy education to teenagers. He agrees with Devshi that mortgages need to be taught in school, and he recommends that students use a mortgage calculator to see just how much a house can cost.

“Online mortgage calculators are a great way to discuss payments and interest paid, often providing a surprise to young students.” Puharich said.

Building Wealth

How Much a Job Really Pays

It probably comes as a rude awakening to most younger people that the salary they were quoted isn’t entirely what they make because of the taxes that come out of their paychecks.

Devshi said people need to know that before their first day on the job.

“Schools don’t really teach common-sense things like this beyond academia,” Devshi said. “Nothing really gives life advice like this that applies this together to shape life choices.”

How Debt Can Affect Your Financial Future

Debt can make or break your finances, but people often don’t know that until they end up getting into debt and it’s too late.

Chris Willox created a financial literacy course while teaching at Georgia Military College. The course covered the concepts of credit and debt, a safe debt load and how to manage debt repayment, among other topics.

“This course encourages students to critically think through and apply personal financial management concepts with an emphasis on saving and investing,” Willox said. “Students are provided the tools to prepare them to manage their personal financial affairs.”

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About the Author

Sam DiSalvo is an LA-based comedian, writer and actor who's performed all over the country. Her written work has appeared in numerous digital publications. As a copywriter, she's worked with a variety of major brands including GoldieBlox and Thrive Causemetics. Sam loves dogs and is currently perusing leisure suits to buy for her corgi mix, Barry

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