Survey Says: Education About Finances

February 4, 2012 ( - We recently covered a survey in which a majority of retirement plan participants who responded said they learned about finances from their parents.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers from whom or where they learned about finances.  

Though not by a majority, the top response chosen by responding readers, just as in the survey we covered, was “parents” (45.2%). This was closely followed by “self-taught/successes and mistakes,” selected by 43.5% of respondents.  

Nearly one-third (32.3%) indicated they learned about finances from work, while 22.6% said they learned at school and 16.1% learned from books. Friends taught 6.5% of responding readers about finances; 8.1% learned from online sources; and 4.8% each learned from a spouse or partner, or a class outside of school. Finally, 3.2% indicated another family member, besides parents, taught them about finances.  

Among “other” responses, selected by 19.4% of readers, were a Dave Ramsey seminar, a financial planner, Camp Fire Girls and NewsDash. One reader indicated he or she learned what not to do from parents and grandparents, and another said he or she still does not completely understand finances.  

Among verbatim comments, many expressed their view that finances should be part of the K-12 curriculum. Some said they learned something about finances from a variety of sources, and one reader indicated his or her church now offers finance classes. Many expanded on what particular lessons they were taught.   

Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who used the forum for a plea for help with finances: “Please send college scholarship donations, I’ve got 3 kids thinking about it…” 


I'm not exactly sure, but I think the choices selected above apply. 


K-12 education needs to spend a little more time covering this. 


My family's household budget was my first exposure. 


Husband is a graduate economist; he has this small, pained smile I've learned to recognize! 


We need to teach our children better. Ideally parents would do it, but it's not realistic to expect people to teach their children something they don't understand. 


I have learned a little bit from everyone. My parents grew up in the depression and they lived their advice. You don't need all the luxuries of life. Live frugally. Save for that rainy day, it is just a matter of when it comes, not if. I have also listened to friends, co-workers and read many books. 


Thankfully I have parents who have always been financially responsible. Their example definitely influenced how I handle finances. 


Should be required part of every HS curriculum. 


My parents and grand-parents were from the age of hard-work and save...don't rely on the government or anyone else to take care of you. that is how I view my finances now...and what I have taught my children. Unfortunately, I didn't believe what I was taught until this last several years and am now struggling to make up for those many lost years of saving. fortunately, one of my children believed from the beginning and still does...the other...not so much. 


It should have been a required course in high school. 


I think financial education should be mandatory in schools -- starting with middle-school aged children and reinforced each year through high school!! 


Although my parents taught me finances, I'm not sure it was a good lesson! Taking the Dave Ramsey course helped me see cash is King! 

Verbatim (cont.) 

One of the greatest gifts parents can bestow on their children is knowledge about personal finance and management. The world would be much better off. 


I started learning with my parents, budgeting my allowance, balancing my first checking account, etc. Without that early knowledge, I would not likely have migrated to a job where such basics were necessary or ever been in a position to need a financial planner! Go Dad! 


There should be required courses in high school to inform students the basics of the financial world, including investing, credit cards, and how to use not abuse debt. For the 401k participants at my company, I would bet that many could not describe the difference between a stock and a bond, yet they are expected to be able to invest wisely enough to provide a major portion of their retirement income. 


I review hardship requests (facts & circumstances)and am amazed at the lack of fiscal responsibility of our younger employees. They feel entitled to giant screen TVs and think the 401k should pay for it. 


Nobody can really teach you about finances-you have to live it yourself, including deciding on needs vs. wants, setting priorities, developing a plan, or marrying the right person. 


don't spend more than you earn! if you do, pay if off quickly! 


I really learned about investments from my job as for personal finances that was hit and miss. 


I believe it is generally acknowledged that we have a financial illiteracy problem. While we need to fix that, there is a core underlying problem of general mathematical illiteracy (innumeracy) that needs to be fixed first. Where most people would be ashamed and hide the fact that they couldn't read, we find people that brag that they can't balance their checkbooks. Until we fix the underlying innumeracy problem, we can't get to the more sophisticated financial literacy problem. 


It's too costly the learn by making mistakes but probably best remembered. I think this is something that should be taught by parents, in schools, online, ... 


Please send college scholarship donations, I've got 3 kids thinking about it... 


I remember seeing my Dad at the kitchen table plotting the week's ending price of stocks he held. Mom always told me he should have held onto IBM instead of taking the 20% profit. So I was never afraid to buy stocks, but sometimes I hold too long ... 


My parents were very traditional - as in children should be seen and not heard - and never talk about money!!!

Verbatim (cont.) 

Our children should learn the basics about budgets, saving and spending in high school and every college program should offer a class about the basics of finance (and the consequences of bad decisions). I continue to be amazed and the decisions that are made because of lack of understanding basic finance. 


Although I learned about managing money from my parents I wish they had taught me about the importance of having a plan for retirement. 


My parents instilled in me at an early age the need to save. I grew up in a small town back in the late 50s and early 60s. My parents opened up a savings account for me at the local bank. One teller at the bank had a set of steps specifically for children to use when making a deposit. It was such a neat experience to watch her record my deposit in my savings account book. 


I think it is very important for parents to make sure their kids have a good understanding of money, budgets, etc. We can't rely on school to teach our kids everything. 


I don't ever remember talking about money with my parents. In fact College did nothing to prepare me for a life of managing money although it did teach me to manage debt. 


With school districts going to a year-around school year, financial education should be included as its' own course and required in High School. I know that some HS graduates probably remember some budgeting as part of Home Economics. 


Finance education is such a significant problem, our church now offers finance classes 


Learned some from nearly all of the above. Nevertheless, the best lesson, without exception, came from the school of hard knocks. Perhaps more should attend. 


My parents did not sit me down and teach me finance. I learned from their example. To seperate wants from needs and save up for your wants. To not feel you have to keep up with the Joneses. Fortunate for me I married a gilrl who was brought up the same way. She will retire in 3 months and I in 3 years and it should be a comfortable retirement. 


I learned not to buy what I can't afford from my parents and as a result have rarely had credit card debt not paid off in full when due, paid car loans off early and own my house free and clear. I learned about finances from 35 years in the financial industry. 


Mom taught me to be frugal and how to budget, my parents really had no money so I learned how to invest on my own. 


Financial education covers a broad swathe of issues. Mom taught me the importance of saving and, to a lesser extent, the importance of seeking advice from experts (on things like choosing investments for those savings). 


Teaching finance to children in school needs to be drastically increased. They need to know before high school graduation the importance of providing for themselves and how to accomplish this undaunting feat. 



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.