A recent survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education found 3 in 10 Americans saying the quality of their financial life is worse than they expect it to be.  

Recent lessons

Regardless of how much or little income we earn, we must always be mindful of how we spend, save and manage our money and take the necessary steps to ensure our individual and family’s security. As a society, we must step up our game.

"We all can do better at demonstrating responsibility, asking ourselves, 'What are the consequences of using this credit card?'"

Financial education has to take its rightful place in every school in our nation. We cannot offer one optional course and call it a day. Personal finance education needs to be reinforced throughout an economic lifetime. It is not a one-time inoculation—you need booster shots along the way.

And just like other specialized subjects, if a teacher is not confident with the content, he or she cannot be effective. We need to provide more training and encouragement for teachers.

Setup for success

When implemented carefully, rigorous financial education programs can work. There is a movement in the U.S. to implement a framework that is purposeful and lasting.

Competent financial education must have:

  • Well-trained educators who are confident delivering the lessons

  • Vetted program materials that come from trusted, unbiased sources

  • Timely instruction presented when it matters

  • Relevant subject matter that fits the needs of diverse audiences

  • Evidence of impact—does it affect behavior change?

While this may sound like a tall order, it only works when all five pillars are implemented together. Our youth deserve the best we can give to build successful financial futures.

Extracurricular attention

Away from the classroom, it’s up to parents. We have the most influence over our children and we should openly talk to our kids about money. We need to set positive examples and model healthy financial behaviors, and if our behaviors are less than ideal, we still must help set the bar higher for our children.

Taking the time to discuss the basics with our children reminds us as adults how we can stay on track. And we all can do better at demonstrating responsibility, asking ourselves, “If I sleep on it, will I still want it?” Or, “What are the consequences of using this credit card?”

Without a doubt, financial education helps people make better choices. And we are making headway: there are several excellent curricula available; more states have mandates in place; government is playing a positive role and there is substantial research that validates the effectiveness of financial education.