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Many advocating for more financial education in schools


August 24. 2013 9:56AM
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LIMA — Seventeen-year-old Tyler Perry puts 10 percent of what he makes waiting tables at Bob Evans into a savings account.“It is kind of like my emergency fund. I really don’t touch it,” the Bath High School senior said.The “emergency” money has mostly been saved for just that, such as when he’s off work for a while and needs to make his car payment. Or, when he wanted a $200 iPod.“I considered it kind of a necessity,” he said, laughing a little. “It makes me more productive when I work at night after we close.”Despite the purchase, Tyler, whose parents opened the account for him when he was 10, still has a fair amount in the savings. Despite the temptation, he doesn’t dip into it often. Not having a debit card helps. Tyler admitted he might make more purchases with one.Most would say Tyler is an example of a responsible teen who manages his money wisely and is likely on the right track to do so into adulthood. He could very well be in the minority, which is why many have advocated for more financial education in schools.The advocacy might be just as much about today’s adults as it is teenagers.RealityTrac Inc. reported October statistics on pre-foreclosures and foreclosure activity show Ohio ranked fourth in the nation. The October rate more than doubled the rate from a year ago, and was up 10 percent from September.Ohio has the highest rate of mortgages, 5.22 percent, that were seriously delinquent or in the foreclosures process of any state, a Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey found.Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray, a strong proponent of financial education, said he believes it will positively impact these problems in the future.“Many of the people in financial trouble we found almost universally that their financial troubles were made worse because they just weren’t very good at managing their money,” he said. “Nobody had ever given them any guidance. Nobody had given them any help. They were kind of struggling and made some bad decisions.”Cordray’s office has launched a personal finance education online initiative, including information for teenagers, as well as teaching resources for educators and parents. Included are a “Money Talks” forum and a collection of real-time financial news.Yourmoneynowonline.org includes interactive ways to get teenagers to care about money, including a budgeting game. A football game awards touchdowns for answering correct money questions.Students talk moneyStudents say they haven’t learned much about managing their money in school, but instead learned from their parents. Bath’s Katie Halker learned from working at a retail store. It’s especially been a good lesson on credit cards.“Charge cards can really screw up your credit,” she said. “I’ve had people not get approved just because they have had bad credit. They have so many credit cards.”Katie has a checking and savings account; her paycheck goes directly into one and extra money into the other. She relies on her debit card, but says she is responsible enough to not overspend.“The temptation is always there, especially since I have a debit card. I force myself not to overspend. It’s not hard,” she said.Lima Senior High School senior Amber Dodds has had a checking account since age 15. She spends most of her money on car insurance and gas, followed by music and concerts. She pays close attention to what she spends and how much she has in her account, but that wasn’t always the case.“When I first got it I did withdraw more than what I had and my mom covered me for that part,” she said. “After that I learned and I never did that again.”Senior Kyla Osterhout, of Lima Senior, opened a savings account in March. The money she makes busing tables at the Eagles goes toward car insurance and paying her parents back for her car when she can. She’s saved about $40 so far.“It is tough for me to save,” she said. “I see something I like and it’s hard to tell myself no. I’m getting better, but it’s still hard.”Clothes, music, video games and time out with friends seem to be the big things students spend their money on. Gassing up their cars is another. Lima Senior student Lauren Herrel thinks most people, not just teens, spend too much on things, a lesson her mother instilled in her.“She’s always taught me to be cheap. Don’t buy anything unless it’s on sale,” she said. “I learned just going to the store with her. ... People spend their money stupidly.”Lauren saves a lot of what she makes from working at the Beer Barrel. Enough to buy a car a few months ago and still have $400 left in her account. She still worries though, especially about having money for college.Students said while it is not always at the forefront, they do worry about having money to get through college and even surviving after college.While these students seem knowledgeable and responsible with their money, they say it’s not the case with most.“They get a check and spend it that day,” said Lima Senior junior Reokis Jones, who plans to get a job soon.“Kids are out flashing the money they have and buying stupid stuff they don’t really need,” Amber said. “I think the students who actually work for their money are more responsible with it. The ones who are just handed it, they blow it the most.”Tyler knows students who work, who “spend money like it’s water,” and are always broke. Katie says most of her peers don’t know how to budget.“Just because we’re teenagers,” she said. “We like to have stuff we want. They’re not worried about spending money. There is always mom and dad.”Seventeen percent of 16- and 17-year-olds nationally have checking accounts, said Kurt Neeper, marketing director at Superior Federal Credit Union. So do 60 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds.“That shows how quickly these issues come to students,” Neeper said. “At 18, you move out of the house to go to college and kids have ATM or debit cards, and they have never been trained to use it.”About 150 local teenagers have a checking account designed for teens through Superior. Fifteen- through 17-year-olds qualify, but must first take an online course and test.Along with learning to save money, young people need to learn about credit and how to protect it, Neeper said. He tells students they can save between $50,000 and $70,000 over their lifetime by having good credit versus average credit.Most students said they would eventually get a credit card, even though some of their parents have warned them against it. Lauren says she’ll get one just to build her credit, although admits college expenses might force her to use it more.Tyler might get a credit card for emergencies. He knows interest rates are high and that he could really rack up a bill quickly.“I think I would be responsible enough to have one, but I don’t really want one in my hands right now to mess with,” he said. “If I had it I would definitely be more willing to spend it.”Coming curriculum mandateCordray and others pushed to make personal finance education part of the high school curriculum, and under former Gov. Bob Taft’s core curriculum approved last year, schools will have to start such education in 2010.Cordray is working with the state Department of Education to help develop the curriculum requirement. Because school districts vary so much, he said districts will have to be offered alternatives in how they implement the curriculum.“I think requirement needs to be specific enough to make sure it is going to be meaningful,” he said. “To me, that is a minimum of six weeks, preferably nine weeks or a full semester.”The treasurer’s office offers teacher academies to help educators better teach personal finance. Cordray said he believes students need financial basics first and then can get to more sophisticated things including buying a house and planning for retirement.“Some of it is not so much informative and educational as it is also behavioral and getting into the right habits,” he said.Superior holds a financial education day for students each year. Neeper said once the curriculum starts, the credit union will concentrate more on assisting in the classroom. He believes financial education in the schools is overdue.“We teach math or other things we may not need to know in our careers, but we never taught people how to maintain their finances, which is something every single student is going to have to know,” he said.Lima schools had hoped to start a high school finance course as early as next school year, but will have to reconsider because of current financial problems, Assistant Superintendent Jill Ackerman said.“We felt it was an important piece to get out ahead of the game, but I don’t know if we can now,” she said, saying it can still integrate it into other courses.While he believes students need to learn more about managing their money, Kalida schools Superintendent Mark Neal isn’t thrilled with schools being asked to do the educating. He said it is another of a long line of things that were once the responsibility of parents but now falls on schools.“We are getting pushed from all sides. The school year and the school day are only so long,” he said. “We have assumed a lot of the responsibility that used to belong to parents while at the same time we are supposed to do better than ever on the academic parts as well. It just squeezes another thing into an already packed school day.”Neal said it’s obvious that while students are learning the math skills needed to manage their money, they don’t always have the discipline needed to do so.“I think it is more a matter of self-discipline and responsibility and maybe recognizing the need for that,” he said. “Parents should model that behavior and in a perfect world, they would take the time to explain to you why they do certain things, but I don’t know that is happening.”Schools already teaching moneyMany schools teach some financial education in various ways, oftentimes in consumer science courses. It sometimes pops up briefly in a math or social studies course.Bath students in the Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies program get some financial literacy and economics instruction, Principal Rick Gross said. Local accountants offer a microeconomics and macroeconomics class before school at Bath. Some take postsecondary courses as well.“It is absolutely important, and we hear that from community members,” he said. “We hear that from parents who send their kids off to college with credit cards. It is an everyday function of life that needs to be integrated into your curriculums.”Many schools do “reality” activities for students, many times in middle school, to teach them how to manage money. Students are given certain professions and monthly incomes and sent off to purchase their basic needs and wants. They quickly find that it’s not as easy as they think.The Allen County OSU Extension office helps with many of these programs. Mark Light, 4-H and youth development educator with the office, said the activity is a real eye-opener for children who often are only used to paying for things they may think are necessities, like cell phone minutes and high-speed Internet, but really are not.“We hope by the end of the day that they do kind of have an awakening in financial things,” he said. “We get different comments. Some say they are never going to have kids because of the expense they bring along. Or, ‘I didn’t realize how much my parents had to pay out each month.’”Students think more financial education would be good for future students. A few laughed of learning how to write a check and balance a checkbook in the seventh grade and nothing since.“I think it would be very helpful because a lot of high school students do have jobs and they don’t learn how to manage their money in school at all,” Amber said. “And they often make mistakes like I did.”






Many advocating for more financial education in schools


Many advocating for more financial education in schools


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