I had the privilege of speaking to a group of first-year students at Corning Community College last week.    I’ve been participating in presenting basic financial education to groups of students for years now.  We present tips on how to set financial goals, how to track your expenses and how to establish and or fix credit.  I love these opportunities!

It struck me as I was eating lunch with a colleague who also speaks at these presentations with me, just how little progress we’ve made in ensuring  students receive formal financial education at both the secondary and collegiate level.  Granted programs like FoolProof, Junior Achievement and other programs sponsored by local financial institutions have provided programs and at least have a presence in some schools. However this is often at the mercy of an educator taking on the extra initiative to add this component to their curriculum.  I applaud those teachers and administrators who do take those extra steps.  How is it, though, that financial education is an “extra”?

Why isn’t financial education part of the mandatory curriculum?  It’s a necessary life skill.  Why is it that Algebra is considered more important?  Education is all about preparation and development to be the best that we can be.  Yet out of all the tools given to graduates personal financial management skills is not one of them even though money is something everyone has to deal with.  It just doesn’t make sense.

I can’t help thinking about what our country and our economy would look like if everyone was taught personal finance.  Would the number of people with credit problems decrease?  Would personal financial management skills impact our country’s poverty levels?  Would  sound personal financial management result in a financially strong country as a whole?

When I first heard the idea of making personal finance courses mandatory in our schools, I was all for it.  I happened to be one of those lucky few who had the opportunity to take a personal finance course as part of my high school education, so I knew first hand how beneficial it was in my life.  That was almost 15 years ago though, I would have thought by now that those advocacy groups would have successfully made  some legislations changes.  Yet here I was about to go talk to another small group of college students who still have not had any formal education in the area of personal finance.  I have to tell you I am bothered, really bothered by that.  Something has to change.  Instead of waiting for someone else to fix it, I’ve decided that I have to help it change!

I have no idea where to start, but I’m going to start asking some questions.  Then I’m going to brain storm some solutions.  (Ok, so I’m already brainstorming solutions.)  This is a problem in our country and it doesn’t seem like too hard of situation to fix.  We just have to start somewhere.  I don’t want to be speaking to a group of college students 15 years from now trying to impart a whole text-book worth’s of personal finance skills into one hour.  I’d rather be blown away by the knowledge and understanding they have on everything from credit to asset protection.  In the meantime, if you have any ideas please, please, share them with me!  If you know other people who are just as passionate about this topic get them in touch with me!  If you want to help, I’ll find a way to get you involved!