Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “time is money,” but despite all the time that we spend in school (much of it studying historical figures like the so-called First American), money is one subject that we don’t learn too much about. That’s a problem.
For starters, only 33 percent of people learn the basics of money management at home and 40 percent of adults grade their financial know-how at a “C” level or below, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Financial literacy therefore tends to slip through the curriculum cracks, and even when we do have someone to guide us, there’s a good chance that person may need a teacher of their own.
It, consequently, shouldn’t be a surprise that US consumers owe nearly $900 billion to credit card companies and more than $1 trillion to student loan providers; or that the United States ranks only ahead of Bosnia in terms of how prepared parents feel their kids are for financial independence.
More than a wake-up call, the clearly dismal state of financial literacy in this country should provide a call to arms as we wait around for Congress to address the budget deficit and prodigious national debt in some substantive fashion. We need to become active participants in our own financial future, and it all starts with building a solid base of knowledge on which to operate.