A green dollar bill illustration.

(HS Insider)

Education

Column: The importance of a financial literacy class

<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/hoffjj/" target="_self">JJ Hoffman</a>

JJ Hoffman

June 9, 2022
In my sophomore year of high school, I wrote an article for the school newspaper about the importance of taking classes that can be applied to our real life after graduating. I wanted to learn about the stock market and how to build credit, and be able to apply my knowledge to everyday life.

And so when I saw, the summer before my senior year, that my school was now offering a financial literacy class, I knew I had to take it. Though the school year is not yet over, I wanted to write my thoughts about it as school draws to a close.

Throughout the five months of the semester, I experienced a variety of emotions while I took the class. Sometimes, I admit I was feeling like I should drop the class. Some of the topics just seemed too complicated for me to fully grasp, like the vast complexity of the stock market and how there are retirement plans such as Roth IRAs and 401(k)s.

Other times, I left the class feeling rather depressed. Particularly, after a class where we practiced realistic budgeting, it felt like a sobering reality that I was thrown into. I suddenly had very little surplus money on my spreadsheet and it made me realize how many expenses occur over the span of a month. 

But largely, the class has been a revelation. We had the pleasure of welcoming four guest speakers to our class throughout the semester who were experts in their fields. I took away valuable information from them, such as how companies don’t necessarily need to have a better product; they just need to be great marketers.

I also learned about the surprising amount of psychology that goes into marketing, such as store placement within malls. In addition to the guest speakers, our learning was supplemented with reading from two books, “I Want More Pizza” by Steve Burkholder, and “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel. 

I found that financial literacy extended beyond my class as well, though. After the AP calculus test, my teacher told us about credit cards and debit cards, and how it’s important to pay off a credit card bill in full or interest will increase with each month, until it gets to a point where you pay more in interest than the original bill.

Through these classes, I realized the importance of being financially literate and its vitality in life outside of high school. As a result of this class, I’ve been able to pay more attention to my spending habits, such as the cost difference between ordering lunch versus bringing it from home. 

As my final semester of high school concludes, I encourage other schools to offer financial literacy classes as a means to help students prepare for their futures. The importance of financial literacy goes beyond day-to-day life; it is an important concept that all students should be aware of before entering college and beyond: this is a real-life lesson that is crucial to understand.

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