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Chieftain Press

Why Personal Finance Matters

Elizabeth Hagopian

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How do you write a check? What are the pros and cons of different banks? How do you write a cover letter? Most high school students have no idea what the answers to these questions are.

However, here at Nashoba, the students in Mr. A’s Personal Finance class do. This semester-long course is all about teaching students how to be financially responsible once they leave high school. In some states, similar classes are a graduation requirement for all students. Massachusetts is not one of these, and they should be.

One of the biggest reasons why personal finance classes should be a requirement is that it enables teenagers to become financially literate. For the most, teens are dependent on their parents for money management. Though there are some who have a basic understanding due to their jobs, most don’t have any clue about the intricate details. Through these classes, students become aware of the importance of money management. This is especially important for seniors who are about to leave for college or employment. Knowing how to save and budget is extremely important especially when students are just starting out in the real world.

Financial literacy will also greatly help the housing economy. Many people default on their mortgages because they buy a house that they can’t afford. These students will in the future become potential home buyers and they will have a better grasp on what it means to have a mortgage and all the obligations that go with it. Banks will benefit from this because the people they deal with will be better able to pay off their mortgages.

Another huge benefit would come in terms of credit card debt. Millions of Americans owe some amount of money on one or more credit cards. This debt, in turn affects the economy and consumers. Through taking a course on personal finance, students will recognize the implications that come with using a credit card. If everyone understood how interest worked towards credit card debt, then people would be able to not owe so much to credit card companies.

More and more students are taking out loans to pay for their education. They need to understand how to save and budget in order to pay it off, so they don’t end up like the millions of Americans who owe thousands in student loans. By learning how to budget their money, later in life students will be more likely to employ this strategy in order to pay off their loans. Also, if students learn the benefits of saving they will also be more likely to save which will benefit them not only if they go to college, but also when they start saving for retirement.

According to a 2014 report by the Council for Economic Education, all 50 states and the District of Columbia include economics in their education standards for grades K-12. However, not all of these states require that a class be taken. Massachusetts is one of those states that have no requirements surrounding this topic. In this respect, our state is behind, especially considering that Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia require it for high school graduation. Nashoba offers a class, which is a huge benefit because students should have the ability to learn how to be fiscally responsible. Many Nashoba students, including senior Morgan Vincent, who took the class last year, agree that it is really beneficial in their understanding of how finances work.

Personal finance classes should be a requirement of all students graduating from high school in the United States. By doing so, the next generation of the American workforce will have a better understanding of the job market, types of banks, and how to save money. Also, with a better informed public, there will hopefully be less credit card debt and student loans because people will understand all the intricacies. Once every state requires a class to be taken as a graduation requirement, the many benefits will start to roll in.

 

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