Thursday, 21 March 2019 12:08

High school may be too late for financial literacy, planner says

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RALEIGH — North Carolina high schoolers may be required to pass a financial literacy course in order to graduate, but a certified financial planner says children should start learning about finances even earlier and parents can take the initiative to teach these lessons.


A bipartisan proposal to require high schoolers to complete a financial literacy course to graduate is making its way through the General Assembly. Senate Bill 134 would direct the State Board of Education to require all public high schools to teach a semester course on Economics and Personal Finance.

The course would include learning about the true cost of credit, choosing and managing a credit card, borrowing money for a major purchase, home mortgages, credit scoring and reports, and planning and paying for postsecondary education.

S.B. 134 would grant the North Carolina Council on Economic Education, a nonprofit organization, a little over $1 million to provide professional development courses for educators to learn the material. Teachers would receive a $500 stipend for completing the course.

Sens. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph; Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga; and Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake are the primary sponsors of S.B.134.

Gregg Murset, the co-founder and CEO of BusyKid, a financial app geared towards teaching children to be financial responsible, said it’s important for children to learn these types of lessons.

“The main reason it’s so important is because these skills with personal finance are the skills kids are going to use the most in their lives,” Murset said. “We are focusing on the wrong stuff [in school] so that’s why this is important. It’s the life skills we’ll use the most.”

Murset said the North Carolina bill is well intentioned, but he thinks students need to be learning about financial literacy earlier than high school. A foundation for understanding personal finances should start as early as elementary school and go into middle school.

“They need to understand the basics so they can build on them in a very experiential way,” Murset said.

Parents don’t have to wait for the General Assembly to pass a bill to teach their children about good financial practices. Murset said they can use technology like the app BusyKid to do it.

BusyKid aims to teach children a balanced approach to finances. The app allows parents to set up a digital chore chart and pay their children when they complete certain chores through direct deposit. When children receive the money it can get sorted into three pots: saving, sharing, and spending.

With the app, children have the opportunity to save their money, donate some to charity, or spend it on fun things like going to the movies.

“That is a balanced financial approach. That is reality and that is what all of us as adults do,” Murset said. “We earn money, we put some in a 401(k), then we share some with charity or church, and then we spend the rest.”