Only a third of parents think they can effectively teach their kids about money.

Seventeen states in the U.S. currently require students to pass personal finance courses to graduate from high school — but Americans want all 50 to, says a study.

The vast majority (90 percent) of Americans think students need to take personal finance courses at the K-12 education level, says a survey from credit bureau Equifax.

Give us a grade

The poll asked Americans to grade their level of financial literacy. Only 39 percent gave themselves a B. Twenty-nine percent of those aged 18-29 gave themselves that grade, while another 33 percent graded a C. Americans must be grading themselves on a curve, because the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy says different.

It gave 27 states a C or below, and nine states an F, according to its 2017 Financial Report Card. Only five states required personal finance education in school in 2017, according to previous Debt.com reporting.

If schools aren’t teaching Americans about managing their money, where are they learning?

More than 40 percent of Americans say their parents taught them about personal finances, for the second year in a row. Forty-three percent this year, says Equifax’s survey. Only 14 percent say they learned in public schools. Almost the same amount (13 percent) learn from blogs and news sources. Eight percent learn from a bank, financial institution, financial adviser or accountant, while four percent have to learn from their parents.

Interestingly, schools and parents tend to clash on what they teach their children about money management, creating confusion for kids and students.

Teaching fin lit in schools

Debt.com has previously reported that schools don’t teach financial literacy the right way. Over half (53 percent) of young adults who took financial literacy courses in school were still unprepared to handle their finances as an adult, says a study from investment group T. Rowe Price.

Out of those same students, 34 percent said they’ve listened more to what their parents have taught about personal finances. Which is four times higher than those who listened to what their school taught them (8 percent). And parents aren’t sure they can teach effectively. Only 37 percent of parents who have, feel they did “very well” teaching their kids personal finances.

“Over the years, we’ve found that financial education works best when schools and parents work together to help kids understand money matters,” says Stuart Ritter, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price. “Even though financial education in both school and home have shown to be effective in preparing kids for ‘adulting’ responsibilities, it’s not perfect.”

It’s not that the education in school was a wasted effort for them, either. Eighty-eight percent say they still rely on the financial education that they learned while in high school as adults. And 86 percent say financial education should be taught in all schools, while 84 percent said they were happy they received financial education in school.

Ritter thinks that parents and teachers conspiring on what they’ll teach kids will make for best results.

“We know that many parents have some reluctance to discuss money matters with their kids and that, oftentimes, kids begin making, spending, and saving money before parents or educators have helped them understand how it works,” Ritter says. “There’s an opportunity for parents and educators to have money conversations more consistently, sooner, and broaden the dialogue to include longer-term goals.”

Debt.com’s chairman Howard Dvorkin agrees with Americans on financial education in public schools. And think it’s worth lobbying Congress for.

“We’re not talking about complex issues like deciphering the tax code or figuring out healthcare costs,” Dvorkin says. “We’re talking about a simple high-school class with potentially huge results.”

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of Debt.com.

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Article last modified on September 4, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Americans Want Financial Literacy Taught in Public Schools - AMP.