Financial Education: Start Teaching Kids Early and Continuously
Twenty years ago, young kids might have had a savings account before they were old enough to start working. Once they landed a part-time job in high school, they probably got a checking account, and you really needed to know only two things to manage it:
- Don’t write checks for money you don’t have in your account.
- Keep your checkbook up-to-date and balanced so you know how much is in your account.
In 2018, though, teens use debit cards rather than checks, and most of their parents don’t even bother with tedious tasks like recording purchases or monthly balancing – they just look up their current account balances within seconds, right from their bank’s smartphone app.
Is convenience contributing to our financial illiteracy? Millions of Americans manage their money poorly; don’t save anything; rely too heavily on credit cards; and don’t have money to buy a house, send their kids to college or retire, so the answer seems to be a resounding “yes.” The question of how to increase financial literacy is much more difficult to answer.
The Alarming Facts
Because of the high rate of financial illiteracy, pundits are rallying to make financial literacy courses mandatory for high school graduation and state standardized testing. A 2017 study by Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) reveals some startling data about student financial literacy:
- Only 16.4 percent of U.S. students are required to take a financial education or personal finance course to graduate high school.
- A whopping 76 percent of millennials lack basic financial knowledge, and 70 percent are stressed about saving for retirement.
- Total student loan debt has risen to $1.45 trillion – a record high and a 79 percent increase since 2010.
- Thirty-four percent of millennials live with their parents.
In a survey conducted by education technology company EVERFI, Inc., more than 60 percent of students said they plan to take out loans for college, yet 92 percent of those said that they felt they need more education, information and/or support to be able to pay off their college debt.
The NGPF study revealed that 45 percent of millennials now regret the amount of student loans they have.
Should Schools Be Required to Teach Financial Literacy?
Studies show that students who learn the principles of personal finance early are significantly better off. A 2016 study by Ramsey Research suggests that around 65 percent of high school students who had taken a financial education course already were earning more than those who hadn’t, and 20 percent owned a car they’d paid for themselves.
Research like this, along with the dismal record American adults have with financial literacy, has spurred many to lobby for mandatory financial education courses in schools. The Council for Economic Education (CEE) seeks to help teach personal finance and economics to students from kindergarten through high school graduation, and the organization wants financial education included in state-required curriculums.
According to CEE’s 2018 Survey of the States, every state and D.C. include economic education in K-12 standards, and most include personal finance in those standards. However, six – Alaska, California, D.C., Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming – currently exclude personal finance from K-12 standards. And, while 17 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance, only seven states – Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Texas and Utah – have standardized testing specifically in personal finance.
Doing What We Can to Improve Financial Education
Nebraska includes personal finance in its K-12 standards, but high schools are not required to offer financial education or personal finance courses, such classes are not required for graduation, and the subject is not included in state standardized testing.
At First Nebraska Bank, we believe financial literacy starts when children are young, so we’ve partnered with EVERFI, Inc., to introduce financial literacy programs to schools in rural areas of Nebraska.
So far, we have programs in high schools in five rural Nebraska towns: Columbus, Loup City, Nebraska City, Norfolk and Weeping Water. The courses cover everything from introductory topics like saving and budgeting to advanced topics like insurance, taxes and investing. After completing our financial education program, students have a more thorough understanding of financial concepts and are better prepared to make decisions now that will help them achieve their financial goals in the future.
During the 2017-2018 school year, we provided 1,714 hours of financial education to 345 students. Upon completing the course, their assessment test scores increased by an average of 62 percent, with the highest increases in the areas of saving and financing higher education.
Our efforts in these schools are part of First Nebraska Bank’s commitment to the communities we live in and serve. We believe financial education is crucial to ensuring that our children and teens become financially successful adults who will help our communities grow and thrive.
“I am going to college in a few years, and this program has prepared me to better manage my money,” a student at Columbus High School said. “I feel a lot more prepared for my future. Also, the program was really clear and straightforward.”
Protect Your Phone From Scam and Spam Calls
In 2017, the FTC reportedly received more than 7 million complaints related to robocalls, spam calls and phishing calls. These calls are not only annoying and time-wasting, but they also enable scammers to steal private information from unknowing users.
With the number of spam calls and robocalls increasing each year, you might wonder what, if anything, can you do to stop these calls, and how you can keep your information safe. Here are a few tips that might help:
- Ask about your mobile carrier’s solutions. Most carriers provide or offer services to help their customers report and reduce robocalls and spam calls. Depending on your carrier, these services may be free, they may cost a small monthly fee. Many carriers also allow you to block specific numbers for a period of time. Here are programs offered by the four major U.S. carriers:
- Sprint allows users to block phone numbers by manually adding them to a list in their My Sprint account.
- Verizon offers four services to stop unwanted calls: Call Block, Caller ID, Anonymous Call Rejection and Caller ID/Call Waiting.
- AT&T has two app-based services for mobile users. AT&T Mobile Security is a free Android app that offers basic device security and breach reports. AT&T Call Protect is a free app for iOS and Android app that provides automatic fraud blocking, suspected spam warnings, and manual call blocking. Users can choose to add more services to either of these for $3.99 a month.
- T-Mobile offers free and paid options: Scam ID and Scam Block free with all postpaid plans, and Name ID is available for $4 a month.
- Try a third-party app. Third-party apps, such as Nomorobo and RoboKiller, are available for both iOS and Android. Apps like these warn you if an incoming call might be a spam call. If you receive a spam call from a number that isn’t in the app’s database, you can also use the app to report the number and add it.
- Sign up for the FCC’s National Do Not Call Registry. Telemarketers are supposed to reference the registry before making calls. Although the registry doesn’t stop robocalls, it should help reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive.
- Check out the FCC’s website. You’ll find tips regarding spam calls and information about what to do if you do find yourself on the other end of the line with one.