Practical Skills Take Practice

How many times have you seen a child these days cross the street while looking at their phone? Maybe one of your children doesn’t know how to send a letter in the mail, or how to even write a letter on paper! Do you find it easy to believe that plenty of teenagers in America don’t know how to wash dishes properly?

Jim Stigman Kids Balancing actOur nation’s children are struggling to gain practical skills in the digital age. With so much emphasis at school on standardized testing performance, kids are becoming experts at answering multiple choice questions but not much else. The sad truth is, this lack of practical knowledge can truly harm them in the future.

Arguably the most important piece of practical knowledge our children are lacking is how to deal with their finances. Not knowing how to wash dishes would leave a kitchen full of dirty, slimy dishes. Any person would realize, woah, these need to be washed again and I need to do it better this time. Lesson learned. When it comes to finances, the stakes are much higher. If you wake up one day to find your car needs a repair in order for you to get to work and when you arrive at the shop you discover you have no money left in the bank — in fact you over-drafted your account and are now being charged — the consequences are much, much more dire.

So, how can we ensure our children are not left in that position in their future? Parents everywhere need to hold themselves accountable for the financial literacy of their kids, yes. But, some parents are lacking in that area as well so we must as a nation take action to teach parents and children alike how to manage money.

It should come as no surprise that in a recent study, only 30 percent of Americans were able to correctly answer three basic finance questions (one regarding interest, one inflation, and one stocks). Americans did not do as poorly as some nations — 96% of Russians answered the questions incorrectly — but we were short of the mark of many EU nations, for example 53% of Germans answered all the questions correctly.

This problem can solved by requiring that financial education classes be taught in schools and by making classes available online for adults. A small amount of financial literacy can go a long way towards making the lives of middle class families across the nation better and strengthen the core of our country.