Why Financial Literacy Is So Important

By Margot Nelson | Source: Teen Vogue

In this op-ed, college student Margot Nelson explains why she chose 2018 as the year to become financially literate.

I’m a high school graduate, I work two jobs, and I still don’t know much about personal finance. I’m attending Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, and every other year (since 2013) its Center for Financial Literacy puts out a Report Card that grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well they teach personal finance to high school students. My home state of Pennsylvania earned an “F” (an F!!) in 2017’s Report Card, which explains why I came to college with only a bare-bones understanding of credit, budgeting, and all those other financial things I was never taught. While my college requires personal finance education as a graduation requirement, the state of Vermont itself earned a “D” in the Report Card. In fact, across the whole country, only five states earned an “A” grade!

Financial literacy means that you can understand basic financial concepts and are able to manage your personal finances. Clearly, it’s a valuable life skill — and policymakers across the political spectrum of agree, from the current Republican secretary of education Betsy DeVos to Democratic Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Despite this, according to a recent report from the nonprofit Next Gen Personal Finance, only 1 in 6 high school students are required to take a personal finance course to graduate in the United States. What makes this statistic even more concerning is that women have even lower financial literacy rates than men nationwide.

The fact that women are at a historical socioeconomic disadvantage should come as no surprise. We get paid less and live longer, which means we need to survive longer on less money. We tend to go in and out of the workforce more frequently than men, which creates instability in our careers. On top of that, we have fewer savings than men do. These issues are exacerbated for single mothers and for the many women who end up being the sole breadwinner for their families — often these two are one and the same — who manage their finances alone.

Full article at Teen Vogue

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