Think About It: Money Talks - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News, Weather and Sports

November 5, 2015

Think About It: Money Talks

The term "financial literacy" is an oxymoron for far too many people, sadly. I'm not just talking about the clueless 17-year old who doesn't understand how to balance a checkbook or avoid going into debt by paying high interest rates, I'm talking about the very regular folk you stand behind in line at the bank who don't understand what being overdrawn means, or don't understand float, or the idea of having to wait a few working days for an out-of-state check to clear.

Economic literacy is arguably as important as health tips and math tips to an adolescent, but it's one subject that is pretty much ignored in curriculums throughout our state and in many states. Along with mandated core subjects which make lots of sense, economics is one subject that could save us all lots of cents. How many people might have avoided the housing fiasco six years ago if they had a better understanding of economic principles and their ability, or inability, to pay for homes that far exceeded their financial circumstances?

Wants and needs, savings and spending, goods and services, basic asset management, fraud, what is credit?- how about a four week course in high school to ensure that more of our local kids get the very basics? That's the longstanding goal of the Hawaii Council on Economic Education; it's realistic and a good goal. In a recent survey, 80% of American adults got scores lower than 60% on a questionnaire about retirement. Just 40% of adults keep a budget and track their spending. Americans currently owe $11.5-trillion to lenders and creditors. Let's figure out a way to incorporate some basic economic learning into a busy high school or middle school schedule because it's vital. 38% of Americans worry about retiring on time, or at all. Could early awareness make a difference? Let's see Hawai`i move forward on this initiative. 85% of American parents favor a financial education class as a prerequisite for high school education. The time has come. Think about it…

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