I took a personal financial literacy course this year as part of gifted enrichment at Capital High School, and frankly, I learned so much that I would never have figured it out on my own. The class has already taught me valuable lessons on how to let my money work for me and how to build wealth.
The course I’m taking includes following the personal finance program from Dave Ramsey, a personal finance personality who made his fortune sharing his wealth building knowledge. He shares tips and helps build the foundational knowledge kids, teens and adults need to deal with money matters. As for specific highlights, I learned about the corruption and popularization of credit in the United States, how to check my credit score, and the “snowball method” to get out of debt as quickly as possible.
However, the main problem I see is that personal financial literacy classes are only an option at my school. They should be a requirement. I only found this type of education when my own gifted enrichment teacher brought it into the classroom.
New Mexico is on the verge of adding financial literacy components to required social studies courses, but a quick credit score review won’t provide all the knowledge needed to function with money at home. adulthood. The Associated Press reported that the New Mexico Department of Public Education adopted financial literacy into new social studies standards following a letter-writing campaign, with other states also taking the cue. Finance course train.
There are a few arguments against implementing personal finance education in schools, mainly that students will find it difficult to engage with the subject or won’t want to learn more about a boring subject like finance. But many students are already struggling to engage with existing courses, which is an entirely different issue. Teachers and volunteers like my gifted enrichment teacher have worked to make adding financial literacy as engaging as possible for students to avoid disengagement. My teacher specifically creates group activities with worksheets and encourages us to be active in The Stock Market Game, an online simulation of global financial markets.
Data from the Council for Economic Education examining the effectiveness of personal finance courses in Georgia, Idaho and Texas showed that mandatory personal finance education was associated with a drop in severe delinquency among college students from 2% to 6%. Credit scores have increased by 2% to 5%. Regardless of engagement, the subject retains its importance in education so that the materials necessary for success are provided whether students choose to use them or not.
Incorporating personal financial literacy courses goes beyond teaching students valuable life skills.
For new Mexicans, helping to lift themselves out of systemic poverty could be hugely important. Local nonprofit Think New Mexico was concerned about the lack of financial education in the October 2021 Social Studies Standards. So, with the help of 263 volunteer reviewers, it created its own set of standards. to put more emphasis on personal financial literacy.
Financial literacy may end up being an essential skill for first-generation college students heading to college in New Mexico. Without financially savvy parents, breaking free from cyclical poverty can seem overwhelming. Ramsey’s program and others like it can help make financial literacy a skill for generations of new Mexicans to come. If students take financial literacy classes, they can go home and talk with their parents about the skills they learned.
Introducing financial literacy standards as a requirement in New Mexico schools—high schools in particular—will help close the state’s fiscal gap and could prevent rising debt and poverty. My classroom experience taught me financial skills that even my mom doesn’t have. I learned to take responsibility with money, better avoid debt and budget my income.
The state’s choice to introduce personal financial literacy standards into school systems is a relatively small step, but it certainly goes in the right direction to help high school students transition skillfully into adulthood.