The idea to write Green for Teen$ came from my personal finance management class with Mr. Van Kaupp at Lakeridge High School and my dad’s profession as a financial advisor who brought up the subject of finances from my early childhood on.
He showed my sister and me at age twelve how to open a savings account and put in extra money we got from relatives for birthdays and Christmas so it wouldn’t just lie around at home ready to be spent on the next impulse. He purchased a few stocks for us and has shown us over the years how they have ‘performed’. I didn’t realize how relatively rare it was for parents to talk about personal finances until recently.
According to a 2017 T. Rowe Price survey, 69% of parents have some reluctance when it comes to talking about money with their children. And only 23% of kids say they talk with their parents frequently about money. I realized how fortunate I was that money management was a normal topic of discussion in our house and not a taboo subject. My parents have been very open as to what they can and cannot afford, that they have to save long term for extras like trips and expensive electronics and how to spend only what you have and really need as opposed to a want that might be temporary and a frivolous expense. I understood how essential it is to have a basic understanding of personal finance and how important it was to teach it in high school and/or earlier.
And yet, having talked a lot of personal finance at home, I still didn’t understand most things until I took the money management elective in high school. Finally I actually understood what compounded interest was and how to put together a budget. The many everyday things like checking accounts was such a given to my dad that he never explained online banking, how to deposit money at the bank or what ‘balancing your checkbook’ really meant.
In the U.S., only 34% of individuals can answer four or five questions on a basic five-question financial literacy quiz correctly according to FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
In 2017, only five states showed exemplary guidance in financial literacy for high school students - Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Uta and Missouri require at least half a year of a Personal Finance as a graduation requirement in high school. The Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy came out with a 2017 report that only 17 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance.
In February 2020 the Council for Economic Education (CEE) reported that this number has slightly improved to 21 states now requiring financial literacy courses to graduate high school. However, of those only 6 states require a standalone High School Course to be taken while 15 states require coursework to be integrated into another course.
My home state of Oregon remains one of the states where high schools are not required to even offer an economic education or personal finance class therefore high school students are not required to take such a course.
“Seven In Ten Americans Mess Up Their Credit Before Turning 30”, a quote from Forbes magazine informs us. “There’s a complete lack of education,” continues CEO of Credit Karma, Ken Lin. Something has to be done about this issue. It’s better to learn now than to learn from costly mistakes. “Three quarters of people say that better financial education could have prevented them from making mistakes,” Forbes magazine goes on.
I’m writing this booklet in the hope of better educating our generation and future ones. I hope it helps everyone reading it to be better prepared with their financial decisions in their future. Studies have proven that personal finance and economic education improves one’s understanding of the US and world economy, reduce the amount of personal debt and increase the likelihood of having an emergency fund. Furthermore, after taking the personal finance management class in school, I’d really press everyone to take such a class. I will include web pages that will give further information on each subject at the end of each chapter.
I hope that Oregon’s education system will decide to have mandatory personal finance classes in high school in the future. Furthermore I wish that all states will require finance coursework within middle and high school. Preparing high school students to be independent, ready young adults goes beyond academic skills. High schoolers are the future consumers and workers and we will all have to make financial decisions sooner rather than later. Let’s be clever and prepared for it.
Green for Teen$
Sources and website tips:
Frazier, Liz. “New Jersey Requires Financial Literacy Courses In Middle Schools, Why More States Should Do The Same.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 July 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/lizfrazierpeck/2019/01/08/new-jersey-requires-financial-literacy-courses-in-middle-schools-why-more-states-should-do-the-same/#2b3ad83d3ea6
“Is Your State Making the Grade?” National High School Financial Literacy Report: Making the Grade 2017 | Center for Financial Literacy, www.champlain.edu/centers-of-experience/center-for-financial-literacy/report-national-high-school-financial-literacy
Debter, Lauren. “Seven In Ten Americans Mess Up Their Credit Before Turning 30.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 Feb. 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurengensler/2016/01/21/millennials-credit-score-financial-mistakes/#3972abf95cb5
“U.S. Survey Data at a Glance.” FINRA Investor Education Foundation,
“These 10 States Best Teach Kids About Money.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/these-states-give-students-the-best-personal-finance-education
Ranzetta, Tim. How many states require students to take a personal finance course before graduating from high school? Is it 6 or is it 21?, 12 Feb. 2020,