Teens need more financial education to close America’s economic gap

Students arrive at school

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American teenagers are very aware that they are not taught financial literacy in school – and they ask questions.

Understanding how to navigate the American financial system is important, and today’s teens see a lack of opportunity – 61% believe people get paid less based on their race, ethnicity and gender, and 69% said people find it harder to get financial support to start a business. because of the same characteristics, according to the Junior Achievement Teens and Economic Opportunity Survey released Monday.

The survey was conducted by Engine Insights Online between November 17-22 and asked 1,004 teens aged 13-17 about diversity, equity and inclusion.

Additionally, 45% of teens surveyed said education is the best way to seize economic opportunities, but many don’t get solid information about personal finances in school.

“Why do students have to learn so much in math that they can never apply in the real world? Shouldn’t we learn more about financial literacy instead? said Kallin Marquez, 13, an 8and grader at Diamond Canyon Middle School in Anthem, Ariz., during Tuesday’s CNBC and Junior Achievement Virtual Summit for a fairer and more just future.

According to Next Gen Personal Finance’s 2019-2020 progress report, only six states across the country require high school students to take at least one semester-long personal finance course before graduation, and 15 more take a personal finance course in another course. The remaining states — more than half of the United States — do not require students to have completed personal finance training before graduating.

“We need a national mandate around financial literacy in schools, there needs to be a basic level of learning of these topics that children acquire,” said Sahil Bloom, vice president of Altamont Capital. Partners, during the summit.

Why do students have to learn so much in math that they can never apply to the real world? Shouldn’t we be learning more about financial literacy instead?

Kallin Marquez

8th grade student

Teens can learn about personal finance on their own

For now, many teens are taking personal finance education into their own hands. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you.

“Self-learning is one of the best ways to learn anything,” said Yanely Espinal, director of educational activities at Next Gen Personal Finance. “If you can find the time to shop online and talk to your friends on Instagram, you can find 15 minutes to study personal finance on your own.”

There are tons of free resources online, Espinal said, at sites like Next Gen Personal Finance and Junior Achievement.

Teens can also ask the adults in their lives if they are part of a bank and, if so, what free materials may be available to educate young people, said Rianka Dorsainvil, Certified Financial Planner and Co-Founder and Co-CEO . of 2050 Wealth Partners.

She also said teenagers should take education one step at a time. “Try not to get overwhelmed because in personal finance there are so many areas to learn,” said Dorsainvil, who is also a CNBC advisory board member.

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The most important topics suggested by the experts? Learn about cash flow and budgeting, the importance of investing in the stock market, and understanding compound interest.

They also encouraged teens to reach out to others, share what they learn, and grow their social group.

“Your net worth is associated with your network,” said Akbar Gbajabiamila, host of “American Ninja Warrior,” “American Ninja Warrior Junior” and member of CNBC’s Financial Wellness Advisory Council. “Go beyond your bubble, get out there and be resourceful,” he said.

Bridging the gap

Of course, the panel also touched on the fact that financial literacy and education by themselves are not enough to level the playing field; it must be associated with the ability and access to practice what has been learned. This is a problem in the United States, especially for low-income or minority people.

“Young adults are aware of what’s going on. We’re not just there; we’re seeing what’s going on and we want to change,” said Emmalina Simonis, 17, a senior at JA Academy in Orlando, Florida. .