Money Basics

Several times a month I listen to the Dave Ramsey show. I don’t agree with all he says, but a lot of his message makes sense to me. I am often shocked by the conceptions so many of his callers hold about money and how much misinformation they have learned.

I didn’t realize how unusual my early training about money was, not only by mom, but also in high school. One of the most dreaded classes on our campus was Career and Family Studies (known by the abbreviation that appeared on our class schedules “CarFamStud”). If taken in the regular school year, one of the units involved carrying around a five pound bag of flour to represent a child. I was going to have nothing to do with that and took the class in summer school.

As much as I thought it was a waste of time (I already knew everything – I was 16 after all), there was one assignment that stuck with me.

One day when we arrived, a set of classified ads (remember those?) sat on every desk.

Classified Ads

Our assignment was to look through and find a job for which we were qualified (we could assume we had a high school diploma). We then had that much money to use in our budget. We had to pay for a place to live, food, transportation and entertainment.

Most of us found jobs okay, but once we got to the apartment listings, the numbers didn’t work. This was impossible!

I went up to the teacher and asked if I was missing something: I couldn’t find a place in my budget. He looked over my figures and said, “Yes, you are missing something: You forgot to deduct taxes from your wages. Estimate 25%.”

There was about to be a classroom mutiny over the impossible assignment, when he brought up that we could rent a room and not a whole apartment. It hadn’t dawned on us that we would have to share. Well, with that piece of information we were able to make it work with a bus pass and a lot of ramen.

After the break we had a similar assignment, only this time we could assume we had a four year degree or technical training. We had to find entry level jobs, but what a difference it made in our budget!

Since everyone at my high school had to take this class, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a graduation requirement for everyone to get their high school diploma, and that many teenagers graduate without having ever learned financial basics. I am glad that I had the training, even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time.

How did you learn about finances? or What high school/college class had a surprisingly effective way of teaching you something?

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