High school curriculum should include personal finance

The holiday season can be festive and exciting, but it can also bring stress. The…

The holiday season can be festive and exciting, but it can also bring stress. The busyness alone can be overwhelming, and gift shopping and other holiday expenses can induce stress, too.

The added pressure of the holiday season only exacerbates the financial strain that many families face year-round.

The current situation is anything but merry and bright. According to Experian, the average American consumer’s debt balance is more than $92,000; total consumer debt in the nation is approaching $15 trillion. Bankrate released a survey that showed only 39% of Americans could pay a $1,000 emergency expense using their savings. A recent report by the Federal Reserve revealed that a quarter of non-retired adults in the country have nothing saved for retirement.

These statistics are all indicative of a deep need for better financial management among many American families. Here in Michigan, we can help chart a new course and empower people to avoid the pitfalls of personal finance. We can do so by providing people the tools and know-how to manage their resources wisely.

Diana Farrington (R-Utica) represents Michigan’s 30th House District. She chairs the House Committee on Financial Services.

That is why the Michigan House of Representatives recently approved my bipartisan plan to help prevent this sad state of financial affairs from dominating future generations. House Bill 5190 will address financial unpreparedness at its source by teaching the necessary knowledge and skills to young people before they reach adulthood.

Traditional academic subjects like math, science, history and English endow students with a general foundation of knowledge for future studies or work. But strangely absent from our core curriculum is one course with a direct, practical application for everyone — personal finance students already take a personal finance course, but leaving this indispensable subject as optional hardly takes the problem of financial failure seriously. And many students who would choose to take a personal finance class go to schools that do not offer that option..