Friday, February 8, 2008

This Won't Hurt at All

Who should teach fiscal responsibility--parents or the schools? It would be the best if parents would sit down with their older children and really, really talk about budgeting and expenses and balancing what you need with what you want. Some parents are not going to do this, or are not prepared to do this fully. Schools should be offering a practical course in living. How come they don't do so already? Maybe they haven't thought about it, and maybe they don't think that people would want such a course.

Here's a little activism for you. Send a note to your high school and tell them that you believe that a course in practical living is essential. Tell them you would have liked such a course and that you really needed such a course. Tell them that many shalom bayis problems center around money, and that a course in high school might cut these problems way down. Lay out some of the general areas that such a course should cover, like budgeting and what the real costs of living on credit are.

Ask your friends to send a letter as well. And ask your parents to send a letter too. Do you have the ear of someone who teaches in a high school or is an administrator? Tell them this course is a necessary one. If your shul rabbi has any clout with a high school, tell him what you want the high schools to do.

Financial ignorance is a problem in Klal that we can do something about, or at least begin to do something about. It's going to cost you a whole lot to become part of the solution--a first class stamp, a sheet of paper and an envelope. Maybe even a phone call. You have any idea how many letters the cost of a coffee at Starbucks could buy you? How about a double fudge sundae? A slice of pizza? No? That alone argues for the necessity of this course.

ProfK is giving homework. Please let me know how the assignment works out.

9 comments:

Chaya said...

You expect schools that don't have any idea what real people earn and have to spend on but keep raising tuition every year anyway to teach a practical course on how to manage money? I'll send the letter because it's a good idea but I don't expect they will do to much. yeshiva high schools are not really big on practical.

Bas~Melech said...

I agree that schools should teach kids how to manage money (most public schools already do... but I won't get started here on the things public schools do) but the parents really need to take a bigger role. All families have different means and different standards of living, so a school curriculum would not be able to address every situation. Especially frum schools, who spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to be PC.

ProfK said...

Bas Melech,
You're right that the schools could not address every individual situation, but I was thinking along the lines of general, practical skills, like checkbook balancing, and how to read credit card contracts and how to construct a workable budget. And maybe the pitfalls of living on credit.

Bas~Melech said...

In that case, I'm with you all the way. When I open my high school, would you like to teach the course?

stp said...

I think teaching a class like this is a great idea in theory but in reality, I don't know if highschool kids would care enough about it...I mean, in highschool (and sometimes after) you charge everything to your parents' credit cards and basically have no concept of money. A class isn't going to change that as the 'real world' only comes to be after highschool, when you're working, supporting a family, etc etc. In my highschool we had a class a little bit like this, more like family living though, and we all tuned out because it wasn't important or relevant to us then...

ProfK said...

Bas Melech,

We can talk about teaching that course, along with the specifics of salary and benefits. Let me know.

SephardiLady said...

I hope to write a response to your call to action. I am in complete agreement with the call for greater financial education for our children. (I have a feeling our kids are getting an overdose due to my work and dinner time conversations. My almost 4 year old is asking why her credit is bad? Why he is maxxed out, etc?)

However, I don't trust our day schools and Yeshivot to say what I think needs to be said. Response to come soon I hope. :)

ProfK said...

Looking forward to seeing it sephardilady

Miike S. said...

I think some things are best learned by experience. My children did have a course on budget and check balancing etc in high school. But they didn't really learn to do that until the first time they bounced a check, or until they had to call home for a bail out when they ran out of grocery money. After that, they learned to budget and balance the checking account.

It probably helped that they had to spread their summer job earnings for entertainment, clothing beyond the necessities, and eating out during the school year while still in high school. They at least understood that money is finite, even if they didn't quite understand the need for a reserve.

I still do their taxes, and probably will until they graduate and get full-time jobs.