Money Matters: Parents can provide basic finance lessons for teens
With only a handful of states requiring high school students to take a personal finance course, parents are being urged to step up their influence on teaching fiscal responsibility. YNN's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following Money Matters report.
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Students at New York City's High School of Economics and Finance are learning the basics -- not the three Rs, but the basics of personal finance.
"We are taught how to manage our money, how to responsibly spend money and basically how to avoid debt in the future," says senior Rosiris Tejeda.
The weekly seminars are run by volunteers with the WISE institute, which stands for Working in Support of Education: An offering its president and CEO says is lacking in many areas.
"While personal finance is being taught in many, many more high schools today, and schools I should say across the country, it isn't all the schools," said WISE President and CEO Phyllis Frankfort.
In fact, at the moment only four states require high school students to take at least one semester of personal finance. An additional 21 states -- including New York, Texas, and North and South Carolina -- require schools to incorporate some personal finance instruction into another subject.
"But it isn't enough. We don't have enough states that are requiring it and in most cases where there is a requirement there's no funding to support that requirement so there's much to be done," says Frankfort.
To begin with, Frankfort says, parents should go to their child's school and ask if the subject is covered. If not, they should lobby for it.
And speaking of parents, Ted Beck of the National Endowment for Financial Education says they play a much larger role in their child's money habits than they may realize.
"There's some very good research that says that parents are the most, far and wide, the most important influence point for the education in young adults," says Beck.
The first and most vital step he says is to have a solid conversation with your teen about how to make smart money decisions. His advice, make it a discussion not a lecture.
"Talking about what jobs pay, how many hours you have to work to pay for something, particularly if you are comfortable sharing your own budget with them, so they understand how your family works already. That becomes a very meaningful exercise for them," explains Beck.
For more tips on talking to your teen about this important topic, visit smartaboutmoney.org.