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Budgeting lessons pay off for students

Staff writer

Aries Countryman pays for his truck and has learned how to stretch his money thanks to a class required at Marion High School.

The Marion senior has learned a lot about budgeting in Megan Thomas’s personal finance and investing class.

He admits that before the class, “I would waste it all,” he said of his money.

Now he budgets for savings and purchases he wants to make.

All the students in Thomas’s class said budgeting was the most useful thing they’d learned.

Schools that already require financial literacy classes are ahead of the game.

The Kansas State Board of Education will require such a course starting with the class of 2028 — students who are now seventh graders.

Superintendent Lee Leiker said Marion opted to make a financial literacy class a requirement to graduate because personal finance “is an important part of everybody’s life as they (strive) for success.”

On Friday, Thomas’s students learned about taxes. All but one of the students has a job, and two said they had filed tax returns.

Thomas also teaches students about investment options.

“I’m trying to teach them that long-term investing is the way to go,” she said.

Learning about the importance of credit scores, how to open and manage savings and checking accounts, and how to navigate student loan debt helps better prepare students for life beyond high school, principal Donald Raymer said.

“I think this world puts us in that position of understanding where we’re at as the price of college soars,” he said.

Passing on “what the previous generation learned — people like me who have been paying on their student loans for over 20 years,” is important, he said.

“This is us trying to better prepare students for the future,” he said, and help them be more successful in life.

Hillsboro also requires a financial literacy class for students to graduate.

Students typically take the class their junior year, principal Tyler Weinbrenner said. The first semester focuses on consumer and personal finance, and the second centers on business economics.

“It’s such a valuable life skill,” he said of learning how to balance a checkbook, understanding how credit cards work, and mastering a budget. I think those are huge skills for kids to understand moving forward.”

Peabody-Burns also requires a personal finance class.

“The course is designed to introduce students to the concepts of investing, retirement planning, compound interest, loans, the importance of saving, etc.,” teacher Mark Arnold said.

Arnold worked as a registered investment adviser before becoming a teacher, and he saw the need for such education.

 “In that capacity,” he said, “I worked with a wide-variety of individuals, across different professions.  Among the many people I met with regarding their investing and retirement planning, it seemed there was frequently a tremendous need for increased education and understanding of these topics — regardless of their profession or education background.”

Students who learn about personal finance, he said, “will be more likely to utilize financial instruments in the future, and to do so in a way that is helpful for them, and avoid harmful financial steps and activities.”

Last modified March 8, 2023

 

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