financial terms

Financial Literacy: Suddenly Not Controversial

The end of this week marks the end of Financial Literacy Month, and for the first time, I see progress in its purpose.

Only last year, I argued with Slate magazine when it declared, “Financial literacy doesn’t work.” The left-of-center online magazine dismissed high-school classes in money management as “a noble distraction from actual consumer protection” — as if we have to choose between teaching our children or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

A year earlier, a Debt.com editor countered a FOX News guest who argued financial literacy classes aren’t “relevant.” Thankfully, the public doesn’t care what liberal or conservative “experts” think. A new poll shows most Americans support financial literacy classes in school.

Jointly conducted by RBC Wealth Management and City National Bank,  the poll of more than 2,000 adults revealed, “87 percent of Americans believe that financial literacy should be taught in schools.”

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When was the last time you heard of 87 percent of Americans agreeing on anything?

It gets better…

Of those in favor of incorporating financial literacy into the classroom, 15 percent said instruction should begin as early as elementary. The rest (72 percent) said it should be taught in middle and high school.

A reasonable counter-argument to financial literacy is: This is a parent’s responsibility. The problem is, few parents know enough to pass along these crucial lessons. The poll shows that among parents with children older than 16, only 37 percent believe they did “very well” teaching their children about money.

Maybe by the time Financial Literacy Month rolls around next year, we’ll start seeing those high school classes.

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