Should Personal Finance be required?

Should Personal Finance be required?

High school was created by the government to teach young adults the basic skills they need to know in order to survive in the world. The State of Ohio and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati have decided students need to take certain classes in order to graduate. English, Science, Math, Physical Education, Fine Arts, Health, Social Studies are among these classes. All great subjects, but some could be argued to be more or less important than the next.

Social Studies are a big part of the curriculum, and Economics specifically falls under this category. Economics educates the students on how the government uses the money they hold and how they use it with certain programs. But should high schools teach the students how to gain, use and keep the money they have now and will have later when they are out in the real world? Should Personal Finance be a required course for students to take in order to graduate?

Today’s economy fluctuates almost every year, not even experts can predict when it will crash next, as 2008 shows us. So for the future of society, students need to be prepared for the worst.

At Elder, a student can choose Personal Finance as a semester elective if it can fit into their schedule. Mostly taught by Mr. Listerman, and Mr. Schoenfield, one might say Dave Ramsey, one of America’s most successful started-from-the-bottom-now-we-here men, teaches the class also. Elder uses his financial program of short videos and books for each section so the students can see an expert on various subjects.

Dave Ramsey made his money initially through real estate and was a millionaire at 26, making $250,000 a year – then he lost it all. Afterwards, he dedicated his life to finding out how money works and what he could do to get it all back. He found himself not looking at how he could bring more money in, but how he can use the money he has to invest and keep in house and eventually accumulate into more. He says that Personal Finance is 20% income and 80% behavior.

“The information I learned from the [Personal Finance] class and Ramsey’s program has changed the way I looked at my money already,” Senior Mark Mazza said. “I know once I get a real job with a steady income I will be careful with the way I use it.”

Knowing how to play the stock market, how to work a 401k, learning the debt snowball, emergency funds, return rates, balancing a check book, and knowing that credit cards should be used at a minimum is what students need to learn today, so they can execute later.

Shouldn’t students know that if a person at age 19 starts saving $2,000 every year until they are 26, they will have 2.2 million by age 65? Compared to a person who starts saving the same amount but at age 27; they have to save $2,000 until they are 65 and still will only come out with 1.5 million?

With all these other graduation requirements, one could say that there is no “room” to fit a Personal Finance class into a schedule. But with today’s economy, the economy that is bound to fail us again, it could be the high school’s time to step up and try to set us up for success.

“There are so many requirements students have to take through the state and [Cincinnati] Archdiocese that it could be hard to fit in,” Guidance Counselor Mrs. Kinross said. “But I definitely suggest the class if the student has room in his schedule, the information is definitely useful.”

Though it is not required, I highly recommend taking the Personal Finance class here at Elder.