Personal finance course should be required for all students

Heidi Wright, Staff Writer

One of the most common complaints among students is that the subjects they study in school just don’t apply in real life. A cure exists for that complaint: Personal Finance. In fact, this class should be mandatory because financial literacy — understanding taxes, budgets, and how interest in loans work — is just as important as learning to read.
Typical math classes like algebra, trigonometry, statistics and calculus often teach students formulas and calculations that students claim they are unlikely use later in life. Personal Finance, on the other hand, offers students real-life skills such as keeping track of income, tax deductions, looking for the best prices on everyday things item, 401k plans and perhaps most importantly — learning how to wait and not spend hard-earned money all at once.
“My goal is to have students leave here with basic [money] management so they don’t go into debt,” Personal Finance teacher Rin Fusselman said.
Students learn practical information, such as the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA and how to establish and maintain good credit. Students agree that one of the most important concepts taught is how to maintain a budget. Each week, Fusselman gives students a “paycheck” to spend. Each student is responsible for maintaining a ledger to record each expense.
“It’s adulting 101!” Fusselman said.
A 2015 report by the Finra Investor Education Foundation singled out Georgia, Idaho, and Texas as doing a particularly good job of teaching students about money matters; all three states require students to take and pass a financial literacy course.
“In all three of the states examined, we find a statistically significant increase in credit scores beginning two years following the implementation of the [financial education] mandate,” the report’s authors note.
Lodi USD should follow these states and also implement a mandatory financial literacy course.
After taking this class, students will have a better understanding of how money works in the real world and how to wisely save to achieve financial independence.
“It definitely brought my attention on how to properly save money and also opened my eyes on how expensive it is to live independently,” Patrick Ryan, a Bear Creek alumni who took the class his senior year, said.
“I most certainly recommend this class to anyone” senior Bryce Wong, who is currently taking Personal Finance, said.
“This class should be more required than a regular math class because it will apply more in everyday life compared to other math classes,” said senior Julio Melara, who is also enrolled in the course this year.
I highly recommend this class to seniors who are preparing themselves for the real world. Before, I never thought about how much things cost. Today, I feel confident that my knowledge of financial literacy will stick with me forever and keep me on track with my money.