Schools should be teaching financial literacy. There are too many scenarios of students in college, who don’t understand how to properly use and save money, who don’t know how to pay a bill and definitely a lot that have no idea how taxes even work.
This is crucial information for a person to survive in the world, you need to know how to do these things. However, based on most schools’ curriculum, financial literacy seems to be the least important topic, and according to the numbers, it should be moving up the importance charts. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority did a study called the National Financial Capability Study, finding that as high as 66 percent of Americans couldn’t answer four out of five basic financial literacy questions.
Ideally, it should be taught in high schools, however, obviously, there is limited time in a day, and fitting in an extra class that doesn’t have the same academic value as an English or math class would be difficult. Therefore, a mandatory financial literacy class, similar to the online alcohol course we had to take before moving in at Fairfield would be very helpful. Just as college students have newfound freedom when it comes to alcohol, with no parents to check in on them, there is newfound freedom to these students’ saved money, with no parents or guardians to enforce good spending habits.
For most students, college is the first time that they are handling their own money, and many don’t know what to do with this kind of privilege and power. They don’t have restraint when it comes to ordering clothes online for example, because all they have to do is type in a credit card number and a cute outfit will come in a box within a couple of days. There are people with insane amounts of student debt, going out every weekend and dropping ridiculous amounts of money that they don’t even have.
Personally, this has been a big challenge for me since starting college this September. During the week, I find it very easy to spend little to no money. However, when the weekend rolls around I find myself looking for ideas on how to have fun without spending any money, and the ideas are few and far between. This normally leads to me spending the money I didn’t want to spend anyway because of something that most college students struggle with these days, the fear of missing out.
This is how college students fall into the trap of spending money that they don’t have and I believe that if financial literacy were taught, it would become more common to be aware of the money issues that most college students have.
Obviously, in the business school, some classes go over how best to spend your money, talking about bonds, stocks, real estate, etc. However, this is future-focused money spending. What a financial literacy course would focus on, would be the money that college students have in their pockets and bank accounts right now. Furthermore, at Fairfield University specifically, students who are not in the Dolan School of Business don’t get the finance course options that the Dolan students get.
All in all, a mandatory financial literacy class, similar to how we took an alcohol safety class online, would be extremely helpful in regards to limiting the problems that college students have in terms of bad spending habits.