Pandemic Puts Personal Finance on High School Agenda | Smart Change: Personal Finance


Pandemic makes money talk easier

Before the pandemic, personal finance classes were often spearheaded by teachers who got into financial trouble and realized the importance of teaching kids about their mistakes, Urban says.

That’s how it went for Renee Nelson, an assistant department chair for the math department at KIPP NYC College Prep, a charter school in the Bronx. Nelson was trying to pay off credit card debt and improve her profile enough to buy a home when she began sharing her journey with students. Seeing their interest in the subject, Nelson introduced a personal finance course that students can take for college credit as well as workshops for parents.

Teachers say the pandemic brought money discussions to the forefront because everyone was facing a crisis.

“It provided some real-world wrenches in the system, things that you don’t expect that can flip your plans upside down,” says William Joy, an instructor of marketing and personal finance at Lucy Garrett Beckham High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  Joy says he would talk through budgeting examples in class, assigning students a fixed salary and making them allocate money toward different expenses. “Then I’d say, ‘Uh-oh the pandemic’s hit —  you now make half the income, how will you spend the money?’”

Outside the classroom, money can be a taboo subject. But the past year gave families more time together and a chance to talk about it openly because many parents lost jobs or experienced a decrease in income, says Gregg Murset, a father of six, a certified financial planner and founder and CEO of BusyKid, an app that teaches kids about money.