NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)- There are professional financial planners out there who say when adults come into their offices, they don’t know some basics about handling their own money. Some say the reason is, Connecticut does not mandate that kids take a financial literacy class like the one taught at New Haven’s Metropolitan Business Academy.
In Roni Krisavage’s finance class, students get a pretend paycheck and then they have to figure out how to meet all their pretend expenses.
“I had seven thousand dollars here and now I have six thousand because I had to pay my rent, my gas, utilities, had to get groceries,” said sophomore Mya Baldwin, as she looked over her budget. Did she think about how fast money can go before this? “No, not until now, no.”
That’s the idea in this class: get these sophomores ready for the day when those finances are no longer pretend.
“Sometimes when junior and seniors get their first job and they look at that paycheck,” teacher Krisavage said. “They don’t really realize how little it’s going to take care of.”
Students say classes like these open up their eyes to the amount of work needed to manage their finances.
“How much effort you have to put into saving money,” said sophomore Alex Gomez. “Calculating everything just so that you have a plan for the future.”
In Connecticut, only a handful of school districts require a personal finance class. Other school districts, like New Haven, offer one if student elect to take it, but there are some districts that don’t offer one at all. That is despite efforts by a group named Jump$tart to make some statewide standards mandatory.
“Jump$tart is an organization that is kind of a collaboration with other boards to oversee financial literacy in the state of Connecticut grads K-12,” explained Chris Lee. He is the President of Jump$tart and a certified financial planner. Every day, he advises adults who never learned some of the financial basics.
“I think we saw in 2008-2009 when a lot of people bit off more than they could chew with these mortgages,” Lee said. “So I think we have to educate these kids better before they make these decisions that can really affect many, many years of their life.”
Those decisions can happen early. Choosing a college can put someone in student loan debt for decades. Jump$tart has tried for years to get the state to mandate financial literacy education, but it never gets through the General Assembly. If your district doesn’t offer a class, Chris Lee says, do some educating yourself.
“Talk to the kids. Talk to them about importance of having a budget” Lee said. “Talk to them about where your spending goes. Talk to them about fixed costs. A lot of kids don’t know needs versus wants and try to explain some of that stuff to them.”
He also suggests calling up school officials to ask them to offer a financial course. Students already taking those classes say they really do work.
“Yes. Definitely,” said sophomore Alex Gomez. “A class like this would prepare you for the future.”
If you’re interested in financial literacy for children, click on http://www.jumpstartcoalition.org/about-us.html for more information.