SURVEY SAYS: Sources of Financial Education

The great need for financial wellness education in the workplace suggests individuals did not get this information from school or home, but I doubt that is true for everyone.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Who taught you about financial matters?” (They could check all that applied.)


Three-quarters of responding readers indicated that their parents taught them about financial matters, while 39.7% said they learned from books or article authors and 38.2% learned from employers. More than two in ten each were taught about financial matters by high school teachers (20.6%), college instructors/professors (29.4%), grandparents (22.1%) and financial advisers (22.1%).


Other family members were the source of financial education for 77.8% of respondents, friends for 8.8% and television personalities for 8.8%.


Comments left by readers provided two other potential sources for financial education—churches/mosques/synagogues and co-workers. A couple mentioned their spouse, but that would fall in the category of “other family members.” A few say the sources they chose taught them what not to do. Others provided specific examples of how their parents taught them about financial matters. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I remember clearly my parents sitting at the kitchen table every month writing out the budget for the next month. Top bill to be paid – the mortgage. Last category to be funded – entertainment. The food budget was somewhere in the middle. We never went hungry but creamed beef on toast was a regular month end meal. Powerful lessons – they worked on the budget together and eating out was not the priority.”


Thank you to all who participated in the survey!



1) It all starts with Mom & Dad 2) Save, save, save

Mostly I taught myself by intensive reading about investments and trying out a few at a time. My parents had little financial sense, which impacts me today as I manage my 91-year-old mother’s financial matters and wonder how long her income sources will last. Although I now also have a financial planner, I stay informed about trends in the economy, business and investments by reading news and watching webinars.

I learned on my own by watching, listening, and reading what others were doing. I started with my first job out of college by enrolling in the retirement plan and went from there on my own with other investments, etc.

I was an accounting and finance major so I had information from many sources. My grandfather was a banker and made everyday happenings a learning experience. My parents wanted me to grow up to be financially independent and made sure that I learned how starting with an allowance for chores that had to be budgeted for things I wanted.

I mostly learned on my own from reading and experience.

I was lucky enough to take a Junior Achievement class in High School that taught the basics of financial education. I believe that a similar class should be required education.

I am basically self-taught. I learned what not to do by watching my parents. I learned the rest reading articles online.

Wasn’t discussed at home but we learned to be frugal. Easy lesson since didn’t have a lot. It’s often self-taught. I’m working hard to educate my college-aged daughter.

Most of my learning came from the school of hard knocks, also known as living the life.

I pretty much taught myself, and now I am teaching my adult children.

One option you didn’t include is your local church/mosque/synagogue. Our church teaches financial classes emphasizing the basic principles of creating a budget, paying down debt and saving. We also offer classes around retirement planning, understanding Social Security and Medicare.

Formal education was factual but not as valuable as the lessons and experiences conveyed by my family. As Vernon Sanders Law is often quoted, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”

What I “learned” of finances was from the school of hard knocks and trial and error, mostly error.

My parents didn’t discuss their finances with us, but showed us by example how to live within your means and avoid debt. Employers educated me on retirement savings. Next step is to learn how to make those savings last during my retirement years.

I definitely think they need to do a better job of teaching personal finance in high schools!

Schools should definitely be doing more from the very basic of how to balance a checking account to the value of maintaining a good credit score to the dangers of credit to long term planning

These days I don’t think parents teach their children about money management early or often enough. My former daughter in-law announced that whenever her checkbook got low, her dad just put more money into it. Sadly, I know quite a few people with this same sort of view.

I’m a female baby boomer. Financial education was lacking in my family and high school. Maybe things have changed, but I believe basic financial education should be a mainstay of core high school curriculum.

When we first got married, my husband impressed on me the importance of deferring as much as possible into my employer’s 401(k) plan. We’ve been married for 27 years, and this advice laid the foundation for the financial security I enjoy today.

I remember clearly my parents sitting at the kitchen table every month writing out the budget for the next month. Top bill to be paid – the mortgage. Last category to be funded – entertainment. The food budget was somewhere in the middle. We never went hungry but creamed beef on toast was a regular month end meal. Powerful lessons – they worked on the budget together and eating out was not the priority.

Despite the amount of “book learning” I may possess (degree in accounting and economics), the most important financial education I received was the example provided by my parents and grandparents, and the way they handled their financial matters.

Financial education needs to start in the home–the understanding that one must work to earn money, followed by teaching that allocation between saving and spending is vital to long term happiness. This can be done through an allowance for chores done and a discussion of what to do with the money earned. These simple lessons, once learned, are repeated throughout life, no matter what the individual’s income turns out to be over the course of a lifetime. Of course they become supplemented with education about investing, risk/reward, leverage, and other more complex financial aspects of life, but the fundamental concepts of earn, save and spend less then you earn, do not change.

My dad had me buying my own toilet paper when I was 12 years old. Not a fun way to spend my “hard-earned” dollars but it certainly taught me a lot about needs vs. wants!

I think education about handling money should come from your parents because children tend to model the habits of a parent. If parents don’t handle money well, their children will not either.

Almost everything I know about finances I learned on the streets!

More financial education is definitely needed. Whether that comes in basic financial literacy in high school/college or advanced investment overviews from employers, there’s definitely a need.

I am so thankful that my parents taught me how to live within one’s means. This included never carrying credit card debt, buying a house that allowed very affordable mortgage payments, always paying bills on time, not wasting (food, electricity, etc.), and to save, save, save. We’re teaching our kids the same things as well, and we tell them that they will thank us when they are older. I always keep in mind what my father told us–“you should not have champagne tastes on a beer budget.” Thank you, Daddy.

My mom taught me that spare change thrown in a jar would fund Christmas gifts at the end of the year. She used the “lay-away plan” for major purchases, making installments until it was paid off and could be picked up. In other words, no interest and no credit card debt for her!

The year or so before I was a junior in high school they got rid of the financial education class at my high school (not sure why). I was very upset about it because I was excited to learn a lot from it, as my brother did a couple years prior to that. I think every high school should offer a mandatory financial education class, for juniors and seniors.

My mom taught me about bank accounts. Everything else I learned by being in the financial services industry and learning on the job.

Should be taught in school as part of a “Life Skills” minor class. Many people have no idea of how to manage (or even account for) their money.

In middle school, for one class, we had to search the newspaper classifieds for jobs, vehicles and a place to live. I chose the highest paying job I could find, I “bought” a Yugo, and picked a cheap efficiency. Isn’t that all we needed to do? Pick a high paying job, a cheap car and a place to sleep? Good thing my parents and other mentors instilled saving and budgeting.

Learned how to balance a checkbook in High School. Basics of money management

I selected Employers as my main educator regarding financial matters, I was employed by a bank and a credit union before my career changed to retirement plans. I will say, I learned a lot about what not to do by watching my parents when I was young.

Learned in college with my spouse’s help.

The public schools that I attended from 1954-1966 never mentioned finances.

As soon as I was able to understand I needed money to buy what my older brother had and I wanted but was too young for, I learned how to save and spend but saving was so difficult it was really hard to spend it. Later, I applied that to saving for retirement.

Watched Mom doing the family budget in a middle-class household where every penny counted. But parents knew nothing about loans, investments, etc., so had to learn that later in life as I dealt with my own finances.

Most of what I learned about finance and investing I learned on my own, through research, asking questions and the occasional failure.

We desperately need basic financial education in the high schools. I’m continually astonished by how little people know about basic finances.

My dad’s best advice, even 40 years ago, is that everyone should have $20,000 in cash. Doing that, even today, is something that will start you on the road toward success.

I’m still learning! It’s a lifelong commitment. I checked almost all the options. My grandma used to pick up pennies and said save the pennies and the dollars will add up. My mom had a save 1/2 spend 1/2 rule whenever we received money as a gift. I remember trekking to the bank after Christmas to deposit $2.50. The saving was for college. The rest was also saved at home, to be able to buy “bigger’ things, instead of running to the store for candy every time we had a dime. I took accounting in school and as an adult, financial information is everywhere (TV, articles, employers, financial advisers. Regarding other family members, I learned what NOT to do, like spend my way to bankruptcy. We have a huge nest egg and I’ll be retiring early because of it! 🙂

I come from a family with a father who was ‘frugal’ and a mother who was ‘cheap.’ They taught us that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can ‘buy’ stress.

I feel like financial education is “continuing education”. You need to continue to learn and grow your financial education at every step/change in your life.

My father was the sole provider – his example of paying off the mortgage in ten years when he reached retirement age, while saving for college for three kids – impresses me to this day.

My education started right at home and was pretty comprehensive. But I’m thankful for my 7th grade English teacher who spent a unit teaching us how to balance a checkbook and create a budget. Not sure how/why it was the English teacher’s job, but she made it fun and I am sure many of my classmates can thank her for their knowledge of the basics!

My father always told me, “It’s not how much you make. It’s how much you save.” I also LOVE Dave Ramsey. He’s the real deal.

While my parents were huge proponents for saving, they did not provide me the skills to conduct financial affairs. I have learned by trial and error as well as talking it out with co-workers and close friends.

Parents taught about saving and not overspending. Study for CLU and CEBS certification programs provided investment and financial planning information.

It seems logical that high school students should have the opportunity and make it a requirement to take a personal finance course before graduating to give then a solid foundation on understanding personal finances. After one graduates, this is when someone starts accumulating debt with student loans and/or car loans, are offered credit cards, opens up bank accounts, might open an IRA, starts a job with a retirement plan, etc…

My dad taught me to pay myself (save) before I paid anyone else.

Many credit unions are now teaching financial responsibility to middle school students.



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.