If you have read Robert Kiyosaki’s books you know that one of his big griefs is that schools do not teach proper financial knowledge. After working in the school system, in primarily low income and first generation middle class schools, I have come to not only agree with this statement, but to say that this lack of financial Knowledge is about to seriously hurt us as a country.
I don’t to come across as a doomsdayer here. I don’t believe that we are already in full crisis mode, but I do see us racing toward that. Without the proper financial knowledge the poor and the middle class are just going to get weaker, and the rich are going to get stronger. There is going to be an ever widening gap.
For me growing up in a solid middle class family I was not given any financial knowledge at all. As a matter of fact speaking about money was almost as bad as speaking about sex. My parents were deeply in debt, and they still are. As I learn more I am beginning to realize that my parents are even deeper in debt than they think. It is a shame.
So who has to make up for it? Well in my case it is me, my brother and sisters. But are we going to be in any better shape? Not without learning on our own. The only financial knowledge I got in school was how to balance my checkbook, and an elective class on the stock market crash of the 20’s and the Great Depression, and most of that class was on the Great Depression.
It is an evil cycle to get into and very difficult to break out of. In our school we say we give education about finances but it still is taboo. I run a game at the end of my Algebra class that I call Rich Student. Yes it is a total rip off of Robert Kiyosaki’s books, but it does not have anything to do with his game. The discussions in the class are limited only due to time. We talk a little bit about how Real Estate works, a little bit about how the Stock Market and true investing works, and we talk about developing incomes on line. Some students get it right away and do well, some never understand. But, if the students don’t have me as a teacher they will go their whole career without getting any financial education at all.
Lets talk solutions, not problems. So what is needed?
We need to go beyond balancing the checkbooks, beyond saying simple subtract our bills from our paycheck, and start teaching what the rich already know. We need to teach our students to pay themselves first and if they can’t pay their bills they need to either figure out how to eliminate some, or find more money somewhere.
It seems to me that the middle class and the poor must rely on their credit scores more an more to get out of where they are at. How do we protect this? How do banks calculate this. Most students, and probably their parents, have no idea what this means. They need help to get out of where they are at. That help is so dependent on this score. Students need to understand more about this.
Not only do the students not understand about houses they are misinformed. Houses may be an investment if bought properly, but they are not an asset. Students have no idea that they can pay up to 4 times the purchase price for a home after all their payments are done. They have no idea that a larger down payment and a better credit score will result in lower payments. They have no idea how to buy a house that will result in an income generation.
Students are completely confused about investing. They think that their parents are investors because they have a 401K or some mutual funds. They have no idea what it means to be an investor and invest in companies. As a matter of fact most students are afraid of investing in companies because they think that it is too hard. They don’t understand how to do it so they don’t. They have no idea what the difference is between a mutual fund, a retirement plan, and what stocks, or shares in a company are.
It is a no wonder that underprivileged kids think that the only way that they are going to make money is to play sports, rap, or deal drugs. It is sad that those are their heroes. If you disagree substitute teach in a public city school and listen to the conversations. You may be surprised at what they talk about.