It’s payday. I rush to Eastern Bank to cash my check as I call Domino's Pizza for pick up. Finally, I get to eat! I spend 20 whole bucks on a large three-topping pizza for myself. On my way to Domino’s, I pass my favorite clothing store: Forever 21. I walk in thinking “Well… I can cap my spending at $30. I just got paid, so I can afford that!” An hour later, I walk out with bags of clothes scolding myself, “Man… I really just blew my entire check.”
Many teens enter adulthood without learning the basics of personal finance. After graduating, most Boston Public School (BPS) students find themselves unprepared for the hardships of adulthood—including managing their money. What good is learning math if you can’t keep yourself from accumulating debt or doing your own taxes?
Ideally, high school is supposed to prepare you for the responsibilities of everyday adult life. With so many high school graduates going into business professions, it is alarming that a study by ING Direct discovered that 83 percent of teens don’t know how to manage money. Money management is something high schools should be teaching comprehensively in their classrooms, especially because many people open their first credit card during their senior year.
Money management is an essential skill to master—and I’m not alone in this opinion. By interviewing fellow BPS students from different high schools, even the most prestigious ones, I found that none had ever taken a finance class nor did they know how to manage their money responsibly.
“I always hear from people how difficult it is to deal with money management,” said Sophie Carleton, an 18-year-old senior at Boston Latin School. “I guess I will have to go through it myself and find out.”
“I really don't feel comfortable at all [with finances] just because I have never been really taught anything about it,” said 16-year-old John D. O’Bryant student Bryana Cueto.“The only person to teach me is my mom. [She] tells me the basics of having a debit or credit card, but nothing beyond that. Considering she had never been taught anything about finances, I feel like she's doing the best job anyone has done about this.”
To learn more about their parents’ experiences with money management, I asked the students how their parents learned about finance. Carleton explained that her parents “were never taught about money management. They had to struggle with these things because they didn’t have any resources to.” Similarly, Cueto answered, “My mom had to teach herself and had to struggle to learn gradually how to get out of her own debt and build her credit.”
The fact that Cueto and Carleton are part of the 84 percent of high school students who desire more financial education was not surprising. Instead, what is shocking is how the parents of these students, and certainly many others, are not equipped with proper knowledge on the subject themselves. Yet, they are responsible for educating their children on money.
It should be the schools’ responsibility to teach kids how to save their earnings and budget the money they do wish to spend. This does sound odd—one would think this is a parent’s job. However, many parents are uncomfortable teaching their kids about finances. As it stands, only 26 percent of parents feel prepared to educate their children, according to EverFi. Since some of themweren’t educated on finances and were forced to wing it themselves, they will likely pass down bad financial habits to their kids. It’d be much more helpful if an expert on the subject would teach our students instead. Perhaps, there could even be a financial class for both students and their parents.