There was a time when most high school students took a business course before graduating. I took a typing course. Many students took accounting, and some took a personal finance course.
As far as I can tell, from looking at my teenager's course curriculum, that is no longer in vogue. I can't help but feel that we are doing our children a great disservice.
I have sat in many a settlement where the settlement agent reviews the terms of the mortgage and watched the eyes of the folks taking out the mortgage glaze over. Maybe it is because they have studied these terms to death and it is really old news. But sometimes I think it is because the vocabulary used and the concepts discussed are boring and they just don't want to think too much about it. The attitude seems to be to jump in and worry about it later. Well, I guess now IS later...
What if our schools received a mandate to make sure that our graduates had a basic understanding about Economics and personal finance? Would the amount of credit card debt go down? Would they think a little longer and a little harder about a 60 month car loan? Would the number of risky mortgages be reduced?
I have to think that when it comes to personal finance, a little information is great and a lot of information is imperative.
There is a website called Econforyou.org. It is sponsored by the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy (CEEL). It has a lot of valuable information about personal finance. There are some great articles and a lot of ways for individuals to increase their understanding about personal finance.
The first question on the Home Ownership quiz at the Econforyou.org site is:
In general, what is the maximum amount of monthly income that should go towards paying for your home?
This is fundamental information, but not information that every potential home owner knows (the answer is 28%). They should know this LONG before they meet with a loan officer!
I encourage you to share information about this website, and other tools to educate consumers about personal finance, with your children, family and clients.
The more that consumers understand about personal finance, the less risky their behavior will be--and maybe the less likely another financial crisis like the one we are currently living through will be.
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