Get Rich Slowly readers have taken Financial Literacy Month to heart, and have been sending me information about money education for people of all ages. Kristin wrote to tell me that her two grade-school-aged boys have been reading about money:
[My children participated] in a reading program sponsored by the State Treasurer, The Oregon College Savings Plan, and Oppenheimer Funds, Inc. It required 800 minutes of reading, including at least two books from a recommended reading list of books about the basics of money [PDF]. On completion, they got a certificate of achievement, prizes, and an entry into a drawing to win money towards an Oregon College Savings Plan account. I thought it was a pretty cool.
But financial literacy isn’t just important for eight-year-olds. Another reader pointed to Financial Literacy 2010, which is “a national campaign to increase the average high school student’s savvy about personal finance and investment.” The FL2010 web site includes an online teaching guide that is available free to anyone who registers with the site.
The Minnesota state Senate believes financial literacy ought to be a part of college freshman orientation. David M. forwarded an article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that describes the proposed legislation.
The Senate’s version of this year’s higher-education spending bill would require the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, and ask the University of Minnesota, to offer students a crash course in personal finances during freshman orientation.
The brainchild of Steve Dille, R-Dassel, the bill is part of a national response to the growing concern that soaring tuition, combined with many students’ free-spending habits, will yield college graduates starting their adult lives too far behind to ever break even. Dille said he was shocked to learn that some of his constituents will graduate with $55,000 in loans.
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education reports that full-time students borrowed an average of $6,600 a year for college in 2004, the most recent data available. Add to that the $2,169 average credit-card balance a U.S. college student carried that year and you have a lot of bills to pay.
But would a quickie course such as the one Dille is proposing help?
“I think everybody has an idea of what personal finance is — until they take a class,” said 20-year-old Amy Nesbitt, another student in Normandale’s personal finance class. “They don’t have a clue.
A related proposal would clamp down on credit card marketing at Minnesota colleges and universities. Finally, for adults, there’s mymoney.gov, a site from the U.S. FInancial Literacy and Edcucation Commission.
MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government’s website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are planning to buy a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401k, the resources on MyMoney.gov can help you do it better. Throughout the site, you will find important information from 20 federal agencies government wide.
If you know of any resources for basic financial literacy, please drop me a line.