Teens learn financial literacy for financially stable adulthood

- Living debt-free is not as easy as it sounds because many Americans lack the basic concepts of budgeting.

As teens become adults in a world much different than the one in which their parents came of age, there has been a push to teach personal finance before adulthood.

How much money should you put away for your retirement account? That’s the question being answered by some Bay Area high school students. But these students are in the minority -- setting class time aside to learn about personal finance.

An annual study by the Council for Economic Education found requiring personal finance courses pays off. Research shows that mandated financial education improves behavior in life, leading to increased credit score and lower default rates.

But only 17 states have this requirement, and of that limited number, most roll it into other subjects.

Up to this point in Florida, it’s been part of the economics curriculum, with only a fraction of the time dedicated directly to personal finance.

“Even though it’s 25-percent, that slowly starts getting cut down and what we’re hearing from teachers is, at best you get three weeks of personal finance education,” explained Susan Costanzo. “At worst it comes out to maybe five to 10 minutes of class time per week and it’s not enough. It's abysmal.”

But a bill just passed requiring all students to earn a half credit in financial literacy before graduation.

“I didn't get that training and if you don't get that training, really you start off that adult part of your life behind kind of everyone else,” teacher Jessica Shattuck said.

It’s a step in the right direction, teachers say, at a time when too many studies show we need to study personal finance.

FOX 13 is helping you get debt free. Finance experts will be standing by to take your calls Thursday, May 17 from 7 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. during Good Day Tampa Bay.

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