Reading, Writing, and Personal Finance

A growing number of high schools are adding personal finance to their curriculum.

Photo of Tim Ranzetta
(Image credit: Courtesy of Tim Ranzetta)

Tim Ranzetta is cofounder of Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit that has developed a personal finance curriculum used by more than 60,000 high school and middle school teachers.

South Carolina recently became the 15th state to require that high school students take personal finance classes before graduating. What’s driving this trend? The pandemic has been an accelerant because it highlighted the precarious nature of family finances. In addition, state education departments are evaluating the skills students need to thrive in the 21st century, and financial skills are at the top of the list. I can’t think of anything more relevant to a young person’s life than how they’re going to pay for college or enter the workforce, manage credit cards, manage a FICO score or invest for retirement. If you show students the impact of compounding, they’re more likely to save earlier because they can see the benefits. The pace of change in financial services is accelerating, and we had better arm students with the critical thinking skills to assess strategies that online retailers use to get us to buy more. A recent research report of 76 different financial education experiments found that financial education improves financial knowledge and behaviors, especially when it comes to budgeting, saving and credit.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.