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Why I Think Fiscal Literacy Education is Important

By Ketan Soni

Fin Lit 2I vividly remember coming home from school when I was a kid and wanting to immediately go play with my friends.  My parents wouldn’t let me.  Their first question was always “Have you finished your homework?”  They meant my math homework, my reading, my social studies, or whatever project I had due that week.  Ultimately, completing my homework might lead to getting a good grade in the class.  Looking back, I think they had a measurable task, they had external help, and they had daily “check-ins” to insure I was on track.  Today, I rarely need to know who said “Remember the Alamo!” from history.  I rarely use Geometry unless it’s some kind of party trick.  De vez en cuando, necesito saber unas palabras en espanol.

Here’s the crazy part of my education:  My own parents never directly taught me about managing money.  My primary education never even touched on fiscal education except to identify what a “debit” and a “credit” was.  However, I need to know about the consequences of my fiscal decisions on a daily basis.

I learned a little bit here and there by listening to my parents.  I heard about how they wouldn’t do a balance transfer unless there was a low number (a low rate) on the credit card and only a small fee.  I didn’t really understand what a “balance transfer” meant at the time.  After all, I had never used or owned a credit card.  My parents provided whatever I needed and I never asked where the money originated!  I didn’t formally learn about “budgeting”.  Instead, I knew that some months we didn’t go out to each as often, or we caught the dollar theater instead of seeing a new release.  I didn’t learn about “saving” in any formal way, but I knew that my mom automatically had $50.00 from her paycheck going somewhere else.  I didn’t even understand why.

I only started putting together these pieces from my youth after being responsible for myself.  I learned the hard way that saving money was tough.  I learned that spending more than I earned ended up costing more money in the long run.  I eventually figured out that owing anybody money made me stress out to the point that I vowed to pay off all my debt.   I also understood that these were choices I had made.  I knew that some people purposefully chose to spend more than they made, and other people did not really understand the impact of their decisions, even later in life.

I’m thankful that I received even a nominal education by observation from my parents.  Without that, I might still be making poor fiscal choices in my life.

When we started discussing new project ideas for Friends Unite, the concept of fiscal education was one that we all quickly ascribed to, especially given our own experiences and lack of experiences in early education.  We believe the type of education necessary to survive in today’s world requires fiscal awareness at an early age.  One of our goals is to raise awareness of this critically absent cornerstone of our society.

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