Finances & Money

College course for personal finance – Is it too late to teach our children?

Leave it to one of the most expensive colleges in America to provide its students the option to take a course in Personal Finance 101.

George Washington University here in Washington D.C. is offering “a series of financial literacy workshops for seniors, covering such topics as loan repayment and consolidation, spending, credit cards, taxes and benefits.” The school understands that students should be prepared for the “real world” when they leave college, but I’m wondering if it’s just a bit too late.

High school and college seniors tend to be a proud, cocky bunch. They think they know it all and don’t listen well to advice, orders, or pleadings. Trust me, I was one, and everyone is just like me.

I agree with Flexo from in his recent article asking “Should high schools require money management classes?“. Teachers ARE NOT parental substitutes. That is not a bash on teachers, but rather on parents. I’m not a parent myself, but I have parents, my friends have parents, and those snotty little brats running around with iPods and complaining about needing more money have parents too. It’s up to parents to raise their children with the right values from day one. Your child should be using online banking by age 1, have their first IRA open by age 2, and be ready to retire by age 5!

In all seriousness, I’m personally afraid that I’ll be lazy with our own child and fail to get them to understand the true value of money. Parents are the primary teachers for their children, and they have a lot of control over their child’s inputs up until preschool.

School-age children begin interacting with children from all different backgrounds, and may or may not have parents who know about or care about teaching the value of money to their own children. However, if you’ve used those crucial early years to instill the proper values in your child, then they’ll be much stronger in their battle against consumerism.

I applaud GWU’s efforts at educating its seniors in the value of money, but I think those classes would be more effective if they were taught in freshman year and include the parents. However, is that even too late to make a difference?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • It is never too late man!

    I say buy your kids cashflow 101 and have them have at it. Parents are just as responsible if not more for their kids financial knowledge than teachers are.

    Ya, the school system sucks, but parents aren’t great teachers either!

  • In reference to your article about teaching your children. Just buy them a copy of “The Insider’s Guide to Saving Money” by Michael Ellenbogen. It covers all sorts of topics about saving money, banking, travel, insurance, customer service issues, how to search the internet, dining, real estate, buying items cheap, automobile tips and many more. I’m telling you this book covers everything. It’s easy to learn. I would say it’s for someone who is about 15 years and older. I learned a lot from the book and I am over 40.

  • I often think how differently my life would have turned out if this was something that I received in high school. I did not have the best guidance in the money department and this would have been a nice substitute to having that in my life.

    We are trying to teach our children the value of money. It is a little embarassing when my son is stopping people in the store and saying, “That costs a LOT of dollars. We can’t spend a lot of dollars.” He is four 🙂

  • I don’t know if I agree with this or not. Being a 20-something-yo and a college grad my experience with peers and money is that only the business majors care enough about money to take a financial course, especially since having a grade in a class dealing with money and numbers is going to be a turn off to a lot of people. Rather, having workshops would be more effective; something where you could have sponsors giving away free stuff or something would attract a lot of people. We used to do stuff like this all the time in my fraternity —

  • I think that waiting till college to teach kids (or young adults) about finance is way too late, but I don’t want to put down their efforts to do so. If the class at least helps one person, then it may have proven useful.

    We were required (I think) to take a personal finance class in high school. I still have the book from that class, but I don’t remember a single thing I learned that semester. The teacher was too meek and we were rowdy 16-17 year old kids.

    Really, if you want teachers to teach it (in addition to the parents’ own responsibility), it has to begin in elementary school. However, that could all be washed away the instant the child gets home, flips on the tube and sees endless commercials for junk.

  • I think that kids should start learning these lessons, from their parents, early in life but I don’t agree with your idea of teaching college freshman with their parents. If you have spent 18 years in your parent’s household and they haven’t taught you about personal finance, having a seminar with them at college won’t help. Plus most kids wouldn’t feel responsible for their own finances with their dad sitting next to them…it wouldn’t seem as real to them.

    I frequently give speeches on identity theft, scams and credit card use in high school and I’m amazed at the things these kids don’t know. They actually seem to respond better to an outsider being brought in to give a seminar. I think they perceive the person they don’t know as an expert and are unwilling to listen to the same advice when dispensed by a teacher they see all the time.

  • a. CD it was an elective…

    b. you just didn’t pay attention in class, remember, you asked me for homework help 🙂

    c. first place in fantasy baseball.

    but onto teaching finances…

    the failure of america is giving kids everything they want, as shown on that my sweet sixteen show.

    kids do not VALUE anything because they did not earn it, everything is handed to kids nowadays without them having to do work to obtain said items.

    i blame bad parenting again, just like everything else…hilary was wrong, it doesn’t take a village to raise a kid, it takes parents who actually want to be parents, instead of looking at kids as burdens.

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