Majority of Parents Want High Schools to Teach Personal Finance

A late August survey from U.S. News & World Report shows that more than 83%

A late August survey from U.S. News & World Report shows that more than 83% of parents believe high schools don’t do enough to help their kids become financially savvy.

But that doesn’t mean parents don’t try to do their part to educate their children about money. When asked which money concepts they’ve taught their kids, more than 68% of survey respondents focused on the importance of saving, and 53% had tackled the concept of budgeting.

Here is a breakdown of results for other concepts:

— Comparison shopping: 45.3%.

— Avoiding online scams: 41.2%.

— Using credit: 27.8%.

— Investing: 27.5%.

Only 19% of parents say they haven’t tried to help their kids become financially literate. When you think about the huge decisions high school seniors have to make about financing college, the more they know about personal finance and debt, the better.

[Read: Best Secured Credit Cards.]

State Requirements for Personal Finance Education

There are 21 states that have a personal finance requirement in the curriculum. But there isn’t a nationwide standard, according to Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit that provides free personal finance resources.

Of the 21 states, only six actually have a stand-alone personal finance course requirement. The remaining 15 states include personal finance education as part of other courses.

Remember, some kids don’t have parental support, either financially or emotionally. For those kids, learning how credit works before going to college might be their only exposure to money management. This could be the difference between success and failure when they’re on their own and dealing with college expenses.

Back-to-School Expenses During COVID-19

The survey also asked respondents how they were coping with school-related expenses during a pandemic. Almost 14% say that paying for school expenses is always a stretch, even during normal times.

And more than 17% say that paying for expenses this year has been a problem due to COVID-related economic pressures.

When asked to compare this year’s school expenses with past years, almost 47% of respondents say their expenses were either a little or a lot less than previous years. For a third of survey respondents, the costs were about the same.

But 20% say they were spending more than in recent years. Since about 26% had to make a tech-related purchase , with more than 15% doing so to accommodate virtual learning, it makes sense that, for some parents, costs were higher than usual because they didn’t have sufficient tech supplies in their homes.

[Read: Best Debt Consolidation Loans.]

Are Parents Using Credit Cards to Cover School Expenses?

Overall, almost 40% of respondents say they used a credit card to pay for school expenses. Here’s how it breaks down:

— More than 18% say they always use a credit card to pay for back-to-school expenses.

— Nearly 17% say they sometimes use a credit card for back-to-school purchases.

— Almost 5% say they used credit cards because that was the only way they could afford school-required supplies and other related expenses.

It’s worrisome that 5% of survey respondents needed credit to pay for everything their child requires. These parents undoubtedly also have to carry a credit card balance to the next month. With compound interest on credit card balances, these parents could end up in serious debt.

I urge you to check into local or national charities, churches and organizations that are helping people get school supplies for their children. Also, there are major retailers, such as Target and Walmart, that have assistance programs. And look into the Kids In Need Foundation, an organization that believes every child should have access to quality education, and ask whether it can help you.

These are tough financial times for many Americans. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Sometimes, doing your very best isn’t enough to pay bills. This is especially true right now if you’re one of the 26% of survey respondents who had to make potentially expensive technology-related purchases this year.

[Read: Best Private Student Loans.]

One final note: If you’re in so much debt that you feel like you’re about to drown, contact the National Association for Credit Counseling. You can get a free introductory phone call with a counselor and learn what your options are.

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