Americans tend to score poorly on financial literacy tests, but it’s not entirely their fault: School systems don’t generally require personal finance classes, and many parents feel ill-equipped to pass on big lessons about spending, saving and investing to their kids. Here are ten basic tenants you should know in order to navigate today’s financial world:
You have to earn more than you spend.
When I was in high school many decades ago we had various life skills courses that we were expected to take. I don’t specifically remember a course on home finance but I do remembers some lessons about that subject. Credit cards were not very available to the masses back then so if you didn’t have the money you didn’t buy the item.
But I do remember that when I graduated college at least a half-dozen credit cards were automatically sent to me in the mail. They didn’t need permission to give you a credit card as they do today. I have always been a pretty frugal guy so I didn’t see a need for them. They usually ended up in a drawer someplace.
Now days it seems that every institution has its own credit card and who can blame them. Most of the items that we buy today have a low profit margin, while credit cards charge an outrageous interest rate. The money you might manage to save gets you less than 1% interest and credit cards are at 10- 20% interest! That was called usury in my day and it was illegal. I don’t know when that changed.
Getting back to the subject of this post I can understand how kids today are ill-equipped when it comes to credit card debt. Our capitalist system depends on consumer spending so it is drilled into us that we can have it all now and pay for it later. Of course for too many that means huge debt that will inevitably come back to destroy many people.
Without some parental guidance, either from parents or teachers, that teach you that you have to earn more than you spend, kids can too easily get into financial trouble. Why isn’t this topic covered in our school system?