Financial Literacy: Lack of Money Management Education in High Schools
Tim Ranzetta’s financial education started when he was in elementary school, but it didn’t happen in any classroom. Instead, he learned about money on snowy days. While other children were sleeping or logging in The price is right, Ranzetta would wrap herself in her warmest winter clothes and pull out a shovel from her garage. Then he went door to door, selling his snow removal services to neighbors.
“For me, a snowstorm was not a holiday,” he says. “It was a business opportunity. “
In the decades that followed, Ranzetta’s businesses grew more ambitious, from driving a shredder truck to consulting to building startups. He felt that early exposure to even informal financial education had helped him navigate his way into adulthood. So in 2010, he volunteered to teach a personal finance class at a high school near his home in Palo Alto, California. But when he searched for lesson plans online, the information seemed not to have been updated since he cleaned up his neighbors’ driveways in the 1970s. “What kid is going to care,” he said. Does he remember thinking, “About the balance of a checkbook? “
In fact, financial education had stagnated for much of Ranzetta’s life. If you’re a little skeptical of TikTok, if you had to google the definition of “cheugy” or if you still use the laughing cry emoji (😂) on a daily basis, in other words, if you’re in your 30s, you probably did. don’t take financial education classes in high school. Prior to 2000, only four states required students to take one to graduate. Which means you probably didn’t learn budgeting, taxes, or credit in a high school class.
“I was really lucky,” said Ranzetta, who founded and helps run Next Gen Personal Finance, a nonprofit organization that provides free financial education for students and teachers. “My father was a banker. He taught me money. My parents were from the middle class. But for too many kids today, financial literacy is a real issue. Our mission is to ensure that every student across the country is guaranteed a one-semester personal finance course at their public school.