Financial literacy and COVID-19

Anthony Behnke, Writer

Financial literacy is a critical, yet extremely overlooked, branch of education in the current U.S. education system. You could argue that most schools offer some form of “Personal Finance” class that can be taken as an extracurricular however none (or very few) are a requirement of the curriculum.

These classes will touch base on the barebones basics of taxes, balancing checkbooks, budgeting, saving and managing a checking account. These types of real-life courses, and particularly finance courses, should be required for graduation. Finances will be apart of your life from beginning to end, so you should get as accustom to them as you can.

Too many people are often thrust into adult life with little knowledge of their own finances. At a bare minimum, we should hope that the above listed points will be required and taught.

In addition to that, classes going into specifics such as retirement savings and investments, proper budgeting, insurance information and homebuying process and requirements are rare. All these things will be encountered by everyone in their life except for possibly purchasing a home.

None of these are topics where you simply want to sign on the dotted line without having a baseline understanding of what you’re signing or doing; that being said, nothing is really stopping you from doing that so it’s in your best interest to do it.

COVID-19 has impacted many peoples’ finances in some regard. This brought into play the ability to tap into emergency funds if they had them and how to handle and deal with possible job loss.

In the most tragic cases, COVID-19 taught people what to do and how to handle the passing of a loved one who also may have been a breadwinner for the household. As awful as all these situations are, finances will come into play for all of them. It is entirely possible that with the proper planning, the finance aspect will not have to take a precedent and will be taken care of.

The extreme convenience by which everything can be done today in terms of purchasing and flow of money makes it very easy to quickly lose track of your budget. Things like Amazon 1-click purchases and Apple or Samsung pay that allow you to use your smart watch for payment, which makes spending even more tempting. When you’re not actively seeing cash leave your hands, it becomes much easier to overspend and that’s not even including the use of credit cards.

There is no doubt in my mind that improvement of personal finance and money management courses implemented during high school would show a tangible and valuable overall increase in more well-prepared young adults entering the “adult” world. With the broad range of life skills that that should taught in school, personal finance is certainly one of them.