I read a lot about the lack of financial education in the United States. It’s a popular topic among personal finance bloggers and in media interviews. But I wonder how widespread the problem really is.

At my high school during the mid-eighties, juniors were required to take a semester of personal finance. I thought the class was lame. It wasn’t challenging. I never did any of my homework, and so earned an F on every assignment. But I always received the top score on every test. The teacher wanted to fail me, but his own grading system required that he pass me with a D. (This was the only D I ever received in school — I was a B+ student from junior high through college.)

I often wonder if my poor performance in this class contributed to the money struggles I faced later in life. Maybe I should have paid attention, but how do you motivate a bright high school student to focus on “how to write a check” when he’d rather be passing notes with girls?

I saw a poll recently that showed roughly half of U.S. students take a money management class in school. How many of you took personal finance in high school? What did you learn? Was the class effective? Do you think it helped you learn to work with money? Did your parents give you the skills you needed?

My parents didn’t teach me money skills. My father taught me the entrepreneurial spirit, but his other money habits were irresponsible. What I know about money came from books, and from experience, and from the wisdom of friends.

How can we teach young people to use money wisely? How do you plan to teach your kids?

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