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Required personal finance education in high schools

Smarter consumers are smarter citizens. Given the number of problems related to people not understanding their finances that have spread exponentially over the past year, its in the government's best interest to make sure people know the best way to make their money work for them. Had this sort of program been in place, we might have avoided some of the current crises we now face.

 

First: Personal finance. From balancing a check book, to creating and using a budget, to dealing with school loans, to understanding how credit card debt works (especially), this is a major life skill that needs to be taught. I did a presentation on credit cards in college - almost no one had one, and no one really knew how they worked. Its really no wonder people get into so much debt with them. Showing people how the fine print works at a young age will make them smarter consumers, more wary of offers that are too good to be true, and less likely to fall for predatory lending practices that have been a staple of the industry for years.

 

Second: Tax preparation. I left high school with no idea how to do this. Its seems pretty obvious that its in the government's interest to get people understand how to do it and where the money goes, in addition to understanding some of the changes that will happen to their taxes as they get married, have kids, buy a house, etc. Its something they'll do every year for the rest of their lives, and more practical and valuable a lesson than most of what is taught in many classes.

 

Third: Home ownership. Typically touted as a key component of The American Dream, there's also very little education on this subject. For all the blame as to how the housing crisis started, consumers not knowing how a mortgage works is at the core. Knowing all the steps to buying a house will be empowering, making the possibility of reaching this dream more of a reality.

 

Fourth: Investment and retirement. Aren't there lots of studies showing how late most people start planning for retirement, causing greater problems down the line? The Obama administration is even working on helping people set up retirement accounts to be added to directly from their paychecks if they choose. Getting people to understand how this works, along with other investments, will help drive the economy and ensure they have planned for themselves in their later years instead of just relying on government.

 

Add in a day of how to choose a health insurance plan and you've covered the essentials people struggle with most in our society today.

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Idea No. 1172