Are You Financially Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

3121817819_bced0e0fe5I am a huge supporter of financial literacy, for both kids and adults. Financial literacy has become more complex since I was a fifth grader back in the 80’s (I know I am dating myself here). The financial services industry has exploded offering everything from online trading to debt relief. Tax laws make filing taxes a DIY nightmare, unless you purchase software like TurboTax with a step by step guide. And, applying for a loan or a credit card of any kind requires reading twenty plus pages of fine print.

In a previous article, The Great Debate Kids and Money Matters I wrote about the responsibility of teaching personal finance. I think that a sound financial education comes from both parents and our schools. Kids model their parent’s behavior and if you are not being a good role model your kids just might pick up your bad habits. Schools teach everything from health to wildlife in class (Yes some schools have a wildlife class) so why not add personal finance to the curriculum? K-12 schools and colleges are a great place to learn the fundamental concepts and build a strong foundation for financial success. They can provide students with the ability to ask the right questions and be prepared for what is put in front of them.

Personal finance should be taught from early on and continue through adulthood, the learning should never stop.

Money & Math

Math curriculum in schools is often taught using money to teach addition and subtraction. As students learn how to multiply (usually by 5th grade) including a converse use of math to teach money skills is a great time to introduce basic saving and investing concepts like compound interest.

As students move through high school and prepare for graduation and life on their own a firm grasp of financial literacy can keep them from making financial mistakes that will cost them long into their adult years.

Some states such as North Carolina, require public schools to provide instruction in personal financial literacy for all students during the high school years. My hope is that one day this same requirement will be in place in all states.

High school often brings part-time jobs, first checking accounts, debit cards and maybe even a car loan. If students don’t have the necessary financial background to handle these things they can start off on the wrong foot.

How Financially Savvy Are You?

How smart do you think you are about managing your money? Find out by testing your personal finance IQ with these quizzes from CareOne Debt Relief Services:

Are You Living Beyond Your Means?

Are You a Bargain Hunter?

Are you a Financial Procrastinator?

Are You Overpaying for Everyday Items?

I consider myself a lifelong learner, embracing new things each and everyday. When it comes to financial literacy you can never know too much. Use every opportunity to educate yourself and your kids about the dangers of credit, the benefits of saving, and budgeting basics to keep your entire family financially fit and literate.

How did you score on the quizzes?

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About Suzanne Cramer

4 Responses to “Are You Financially Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

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  1. Jamie says:

    Nope, I most definately am not. I am learning though. I’ve decided that 2013 is the year that I get my crap together and get myself out of or close to being out of debt. Great blog post!

  2. “Personal finance should be taught from early on and continue through adulthood, the learning should never stop.” I could not agree more Suzanne! This is the very reason why we’ve started teaching our little ones some very basics and model it for them. Kids are like sponges which is why it’s so important to start early and live it out in front of them.

  3. @John S I am so happy to hear that! You are absolutely right–when they are young they soak it all in–it’s the best time to introduce financial topics.

  4. Alan says:


    This is a great article. Actually I think financial responsibility begins at home. Children I think learn how ther parents treat finance, whether responsible or not. But I think schools could take a proactive role in this regard as well. Like driver’s ed at one point that used to be taught in HS, why not devote a small amount of time like a term/semester to teaching the importance of credit and personal finance. With the way America is moving it seems like it needs to start sooner rather than later.

    PS: 5th grade in the 80’s is not that aged yet. 🙂

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