January 15, 2013

Your Turn: Financial literacy classes


Amy McCutchen: The green packet is a sample credit report.

Julian: Amy McCutchen teaches personal finance at Holmen High School in Wisconsin, with one eye on her students…

McCutchen: What would happen if you carried a balance over?

Julian: …And one eye on their future.

McCutchen: And we talk about things such as credit and debt, financial planning for their future, budgeting, banking, major purchases that they’re going to make in their life, insurance and identity theft.

Julian: Holmen High School’s personal finance class is now a requirement for graduation.

McCutchen: I just hope that they walk away with some background knowledge.

How is your credit limit, or your credit line, determined?

Julian: Students say they are glad they have to take the class.

Matt: I probably wouldn’t have taken it if it wasn’t required because I wouldn’t think it was as important as it is.

Jordan: People are kind of surprised at all of the information that they didn’t know before.

Julian: Studies show most young people don’t know all they need to know about finances in order to make smart choices in the future. Yet, fewer than 50% of states require high school students to take an economics class. And only 13% require a personal finance class.

And studies found, students who had taken a personal finance class were more likely to save money and pay off a credit card bill each month, and less likely to overspend or make late payments, which run up fees.

McCutchen: We talk a lot about wants and needs.

Matt: We’ve gone over, like, how your wants can – just buying something, a little thing every day – can be like hundreds of dollars at the end of the year.

McCutchen: How much is a late fee?

Jordan: They get credit cards and they just think it’s free money. And they swipe and it’s gone.

Julian: Today, young people in their twenties owe an average of about $45,000, and experts say that is just too high. Having a lot of debt, or not paying your bills on time, can affect every aspect of your life, from renting an apartment to buying a car.

McCutchen hopes the personal finance class will help her students be successful in the future.

McCutchen: We’re hoping to nip that in the bud. And hopefully, they’ll be on a good track as soon as they graduate and have those background skills that they need.

Julian: Julian Dujarric, Channel One News.


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