Did My Education Fail Me?

I have two university degrees. I consider myself well educated and am grateful for the education I have received. Yet how is it that in all of my years of education (primary, secondary or post secondary)  I was never once taught a single thing about money or finances?

When I was in grade one, a local Credit Union came to our school every Friday where we would hand over our pennies from our piggy bank and they would deposit it into a bank account opened by them with permission of our parents. I had no concept of why I was giving the lady money, where it was going or when I would get it back. It took a lot of explanation from my mom, not my teacher or bank teller volunteer, for me to sort of understand bank accounts and savings. Even then, my six year old self didn’t really grasp it, nor did I care to- I was busy with my Barbie dolls and coloring books.

This is my only recollection of anything to do with money until high school where I was ‘taught’ how to file a basic income tax return. That is the total extent of money education.

I didn’t learn good budget skills until after I graduated with my second degree and had a boatload of debt and even then it still took a lot of mistake making before I got serious about it.

Don’t get me wrong, as a consumer there is an onus on me to go forth and educate myself before buying into a product (be in a credit card, student loan, mortgage) but at what point or age should that responsibility be put on one?

Should our teachers or education system have some responsibility to make sure we are equipped with some basic skills or knowledge before we’re tempted with those shiny credit cards when we come of age? Or is it our parents responsibility?

Some universities actually mandate a ‘basic life skills’ class in your first year where you’re taught money management, budgeting, or even how to do laundry. Why should students have to, at this point, PAY for this knowledge? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that courses like this exist but not at the cost of one university course (hundreds of dollars).

By the end of my first year university I had two credit cards in my name with a total credit limit of $5,000, way too much money and temptation for a self confessed financially uneducated 19 year old.

Am I totally alone here? Were other people better educated in the area prior to high school graduation?

{For the record, out of curiosity I went to my local Credit Union when I was 16 and withdrew the $17.98 I had deposited 10 years earlier, and immediately spent it on something stupid like flavored lip gloss or lunch with friends}

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3 thoughts on “Did My Education Fail Me?

  1. i remember having a fake bank at our middle school and all the teachers had their own currency. the teachers would reward you with fake $ when you did something good. And with our fake money we got to buy stuff from the student store. It was cute and cool now that I think of it. But I went to a private school for high school, so my mom opened up a checking account and credit card in my name. I guess I just learned how to balance money at a young age, and always knew never to put more on my credit card than i could pay off because that was “bad”. I’m still pretty strict with finances, but my parents have always been great with money (both have 800+ credit scores) so maybe it’s hereditary

  2. I agree that many would benefit from a life skills course, perhaps in grade 11 and 12. The thing is some people will pay attention and most won’t and I think it is because at that point they aren’t paying for things like rent, groceries, etc. yet, so they may not care.

    I remember taking accounting courses in high school. That may have been a good time for teachers to focus on personal accounting and budgets, but they didn’t.

    My parents were very good with their money, but we rarely had specific conversations about finances. My father helped me open a savings account at a very young age and always had me put any money I earned or received as a gift in there. It wasn’t for anything specific, but when it came time to pay for college and a car there was enough there to cover it.

    • That’s great! I plan on teaching my daughter good saving skills and how to budget for just that reason. We have an RESP for her but it won’t be enough for everything. I don’t see any problem with making her save and help contribute to her own education.

      My mom was always good with money never being in debt but she never taught any skills to my sister and I. I almost think her never being in debt (full scholarships etc)almost hurt her not knowing the importance of avoiding it.

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