Early Financial Lessons Can Deliver

Even basic financial education in high school may help people feel more comfortable with financial matters later in life, according to a survey from MoneyRates.com. 
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The survey suggests relatively few Americans—and especially few women—have received much financial education in a formal academic setting. Respondents who received little or no financial education were much less likely to rate themselves as proficient in financial concepts than the respondents who reported receiving more financial education in high school.

According to MoneyRates.com, the women surveyed reported receiving significantly less financial education than their male counterparts, though the poll results indicate that both sexes benefit from this type of education. Overall, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents indicated they received little or no instruction on financial topics in high school. Selecting for the sexes, just 29% of women in the survey said they received some or a lot of financial education in high school, compared with 43% for men.

Poll participants were asked about how much financial education they received in high school: a lot, some, a little or none. Then they were asked how knowledgeable they are about personal financial issues as adults, allowing for a comparison between how much instruction they received in high school and how comfortable they are with the subjects today.

This analysis shows people who received financial education in high school are much more likely to be comfortable with financial topics today. Sixty-one percent of adults who say they received a lot of personal finance instruction in high school now characterize themselves as fluent in both basic and advanced financial topics. This number drops substantially, to 22%, for people who received only “some but not a lot” of instruction, and falls even lower for people who received little or no personal finance education (19%) in the classroom.

Interestingly, the survey found most people think financial education should be offered in school—or even required. In fact, 62% of poll respondents said that financial education should be a requirement in high school, with an even stronger majority (88%) indicating it should at least be available.

Eighty-two percent of women who received some or a lot of financial education in high school said they have a strong understanding of at least basic financial concepts, compared with just 71% of women who received little or no education. Among men, that gap was slightly larger (85% versus 64%). So while men seem to benefit more, both sexes appear to be helped significantly by financial education in high school.

More on the survey results is available here.