School is almost back in session, but when it is, one thing that won’t be taught in many classrooms is a basic life-skill necessary for future success: financial literacy.
Financial literacy is folded into social studies and math curriculum throughout Maryland and in many other states. In Carroll County, a financial literacy course has been a graduation requirement since 2006.
Yet, a staggering 45 to 70 percent of Americans cannot correctly answer questions on various quizzes that determine a basic understanding of key financial concepts like numeracy, inflation, interest and risk diversification. America ranked 14th in Standard & Poor’s Rating Service’s “Financial Literacy Around the World” survey.
Those are shocking numbers that makes us wonder if financial literacy shouldn’t be a series of courses taught multiple times throughout a student’s K-12 career, or at least more frequently during the high school years before students enter the world and begin making financial decisions that could affect them — positively or negatively — for the rest of their lives.
Nevertheless, the importance of financial literacy — for both youth and adults — isn’t lost on Human Services Programs of Carroll County. The nonprofit agency has several programs designed to fight poverty in the county and help get people back on their feet.
Last year, for the first time, HSP offered what it dubbed Carroll Cash Day, and it was a resounding success, with roughly 300 people attending. The idea was to offer a family-friendly atmosphere, featuring activities for both adults and kids focused on personal finance skills, including how to wisely spend, save and manage money.
“I think money is one of the things that is taboo in some families — you don’t talk about it,” HSP Director of Marketing and Outreach Matt Peregoy told us. “We just want to overcome that barrier, maybe get kids asking about money.”
The event is returning next month, on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the North Carroll branch of the Carroll County Public Library and it is open to anyone who is interested. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, featuring a scavenger hunt and other prize-earning activities to introduce children to financial concepts. There will also be visits from the Oriole Bird and Poe, the Baltimore Ravens’ mascot.
For adults, there will be a group discussing home energy savings, BB&T Bank representatives will be on hand and Shred Mill will offered shredding of CDs and documents. Certified tax preparers will also be on-site for the event.
In a world where there are fewer face-to-face financial transactions and even fewer involving actual cash, having been replaced with swiping a card or waving a smartphone, it’s easier than ever to pile up debt without even noticing. Personal financial literacy is paramount to a successful future.
It’s never too early for young people to start learning about finances and how to properly manage money. And you’re never too old to learn something new about it either.