How schools can teach kids to be smart consumers

Most financial literacy efforts in schools don’t improve people’s behavior later in life. That could be because we’re focusing on the wrong things.

Trying to teach teenagers how to shop for a mortgage, for example, may be an exercise in futility. The information simply isn’t relevant to them — yet. By the time they are ready to buy a home, the loans available and the rules surrounding them may have changed.

Instead, we should be teaching kids the habits that make savvy consumers. In my latest for the Associated Press, four skills that make a difference regardless of someone’s circumstances or the economic climate.

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  1. Jonathan Zimmerman says

    RE: “How schools can teach kids to be smart consumers” April 3 via your email.

    When I was in 2nd grade elementary school in the 50’s in suburban Philadelphia and we were taught a bit about financial management. The local savings bank, Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS), set up savings accounts for each kid in my class and every week one of use was deputized to be the ‘teller’ and record the kid’s 25 cent deposits by hand in their savings passbooks. We learned a bit about ledgers and accounting and the value of incremental savings. We also had a candy story, open only at lunch, where we sold penny and nickle candy out of a a closet. Again, one of us would be the shopkeeper make sales, and change, and record the incoming cash. Occasionally we’d take inventory and learned about stock keeping and inventory control, ordering and cash flow. It was fun. We learned by doing.

    I don’t suppose anything like this could happen today, unfortunately…