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MickinMD
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I've been wondering what we can do to reduce the ever-greater-percentage of American families struggling to get by.  It's partly bad luck, partly a cultural problem, and partly the fact that America's school systems seem to go out of their way to NOT teach students about handling finances after their school years.

Among my siblings and I, we're lucky we had a mother who taught us how to live beneath our means, budget, etc.

I taught in a school near the huge Fort Meade Army Base which, starting with GI Brides, now has a very-large Korean and Korean-American population.  12% of our students were Korean immigrants or 1st or 2nd generation Korean-Americans.  They are well-behaved and most of them take courses like physics and pre-calculus.  Asian Americans have an average income about 25% higher than White Americans and my experience tells me why.  We can all learn a great lesson by emulating their attitudes and should be teaching courses that teach the things that lead to success - including managing finances.

The huge gains in the stock market in 2020-21, 51.6% for the S&P 500 including dividends (52.4% for me!), paid for almost all the out-of-pocket costs during my burned-down home's rebuilding, including $10,500 for termite damage and two additions I had done. And I have less than six-figures in stocks. The unexpected costs stung, but I had enough savings and a great pension to not get too stressed.

But, the U.S. Government's Federal Reserve say that 39% of Americans (as of 2018) don’t have the disposable income to pay for an unplanned emergency costing more than $400.

So how can it be possible that school systems don't have at least one year of mandatory Consumer Math classes?

I know or know off many who have been absolutely foolish with money and there is always going to be some people like that, but concerning to me is the fact that America is now the most-income-unequal nation on earth and the lowest 40%, that owned 0.4% of America's wealth in 1970, owns 0.1% now.

Much of the problem stems from the fact that school systems seem to go out of their way to NOT teach about handling finances when the students finish their schooling. In fact, No Child Left Behind and increased requirements for science and math credits caused most systems to terminate courses like Home Economics and low-level Business Math classes because they didn't sound good: instead students got watered-down, virtually worthless courses like "Elements of Geometry."

 

 

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How does financial education help the people with the real problem?  How do you save and invest the money that you don't, and will never have, when you aren't even able to pay bills and buy decent food?  

NCLB was really a screwed up idea, but had a decent premise.   Maybe instead of financial classes, they get better education in the 3 R's?   Trade school?  A path forward?  A sense of self worth?  A helping hand to get caught up on those bills?  The new child tax credit made a huge difference for a lot of people.

We started our family scraping pennies, skipping bills here and there, no way to save anything.  Worked sort of hard to get where we are now.  But we never worried about food or housing.

N+1?  If we can even joke about that, we can't understand what the real problem is here.  And I'm in no way pretending I can, either.  What I can understand is that my fortunate birthright means I can't come up with the answers.  My attempts to understand it, however, help me ask questions.  I do get some information from my daughter, teaching inner city schools and my wife's experience with a suburban food pantry.  But without actually living it. I can't know it.

 

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1 hour ago, MickinMD said:

I know or know off many who have been absolutely foolish with money and there is always going to be some people like that, but concerning to me is the fact that America is now the most-income-unequal nation on earth and the lowest 40%, that owned 0.4% of America's wealth in 1970, owns 0.1% now.

Perhaps that is by design?

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2 hours ago, 12string said:

How does financial education help the people with the real problem?  How do you save and invest the money that you don't, and will never have, when you aren't even able to pay bills and buy decent food?  

NCLB was really a screwed up idea, but had a decent premise.   Maybe instead of financial classes, they get better education in the 3 R's?   Trade school?  A path forward?  A sense of self worth?  A helping hand to get caught up on those bills?  The new child tax credit made a huge difference for a lot of people.

We started our family scraping pennies, skipping bills here and there, no way to save anything.  Worked sort of hard to get where we are now.  But we never worried about food or housing.

N+1?  If we can even joke about that, we can't understand what the real problem is here.  And I'm in no way pretending I can, either.  What I can understand is that my fortunate birthright means I can't come up with the answers.  My attempts to understand it, however, help me ask questions.  I do get some information from my daughter, teaching inner city schools and my wife's experience with a suburban food pantry.  But without actually living it. I can't know it.

 

Basic financial education in high school PLUS additional support/skills to learn and do:

*self discipline. Delayed self-gratification..big-time. That's a whole attitude that needs to start in the family. We can't rely just on the schools.  Saving for more education, home or just for healthy food, does require using ways to save small amounts of money. Treat yourself occasionally but in a frugal, realistic/meaningful/healthy way.

*At  least 1 do-it-yourself skill ...that can save money. 1 of the following skills for next few decades: cooking your own meals/which means good grocery food selection, simple home fixes, sewing, gardening, canning, doing most of your own housework, etc.

A.  However some people get ripped off and they don't even know it or a friendly knowledgeable person has not shown them the better / legal way. For instance  (and this may counter Mick's inference that asian-americans tend to be "better" in financial savings??):  

*******My mother has found out through her contacts some people are getting less govn't pension than her. YOu want to know why?   Because those other people might have been paid cash under the table and their employer didn't report their business income to the federal authorities...because if you do, you have to report all the  paperwork for unemployment insurance, track employee time, etc. so that they qualify for Canada Pension Plan payments.

My father worked for a good/reliable restaurant/employer that followed all the labour laws ...he got his legislated vacation time annually ...and eventually his puny govn't pension which my mother inherited.

B .  Another example payday loan companies charge exorbiant rates to ...primarily their customers..working class people. Yet people still continue to use their services.

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I’m not sure adding anything to the school curriculum would change anything when there’s a half majority faction telling us the government or public good isn’t of value… that these things should be taught at home. It’s every man and child for themselves, man. Attempting to educate them just makes them smarter criminals. If they are ignorant then when they fail, those same folks can justify it with their social Darwinism views. Besides, that way they get to keep more of their money… because they know money matters and budgets…  who they learned from their parents. 

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1 hour ago, shootingstar said:

Basic financial education in high school PLUS additional support/skills to learn and do:

*self discipline. Delayed self-gratification..big-time. That's a whole attitude that needs to start in the family. We can't rely just on the schools.  Saving for more education, home or just for healthy food, does require using ways to save small amounts of money. Treat yourself occasionally but in a frugal, realistic/meaningful/healthy way.

*At  least 1 do-it-yourself skill ...that can save money. 1 of the following skills for next few decades: cooking your own meals/which means good grocery food selection, simple home fixes, sewing, gardening, canning, doing most of your own housework, etc.

A.  However some people get ripped off and they don't even know it or a friendly knowledgeable person has not shown them the better / legal way. For instance  (and this may counter Mick's inference that asian-americans tend to be "better" in financial savings??):  

*******My mother has found out through her contacts some people are getting less govn't pension than her. YOu want to know why?   Because those other people might have been paid cash under the table and their employer didn't report their business income to the federal authorities...because if you do, you have to report all the  paperwork for unemployment insurance, track employee time, etc. so that they qualify for Canada Pension Plan payments.

My father worked for a good/reliable restaurant/employer that followed all the labour laws ...he got his legislated vacation time annually ...and eventually his puny govn't pension which my mother inherited.

B .  Another example payday loan companies charge exorbiant rates to ...primarily their customers..working class people. Yet people still continue to use their services.

same idea - all great stuff, but they don't have enough money where any of those lessons come close to being applicable.  DIY?  Where do they get the materials?  Cooking?  Food is what you can get in a neighborhood that has no stores selling fresh food.  Pensions?  From a lifetime of on and off minimum wage jobs?  Payday loans - because the electric is turned off and no legit bank will lend you money.

Teach people how to be smart about money only works when there's money to be smart about.

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3 hours ago, 12string said:

same idea - all great stuff, but they don't have enough money where any of those lessons come close to being applicable.  DIY?  Where do they get the materials?  Cooking?  Food is what you can get in a neighborhood that has no stores selling fresh food.  Pensions?  From a lifetime of on and off minimum wage jobs?  Payday loans - because the electric is turned off and no legit bank will lend you money.

Teach people how to be smart about money only works when there's money to be smart about.

I agree. Some of the food bank stuff ...needs to be cooked, you need to use skills to cook certain things and resist the convenient temptation to go to Tim Horton's daily where you can get a coffee and toasted bagel with butter under $4.00.

It's a  hard  one when a person is homeless.

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3 hours ago, 12string said:

Pensions?

I used the Google..  apparently the Canada Pension Plan is their version of Social Security (more or less). 

6 hours ago, 12string said:

Maybe instead of financial classes, they get better education in the 3 R's?   Trade school?  A path forward? 

This was from an article almost 10 years ago. The Death Of Shop Class And America's Skilled Workforce    

It seems like education has nearly given up on teaching the trades.  (let alone the 3 Rs)    There is a LOT of opportunity in any of the trades now.  People just need to be understand that there is value in learning.  I'd rather subside trade school for people, rather than forgive some college loan for rather worthless college degrees.   There needs to be a return on my (taxpayer) investment in the education that I pay in taxes every year.  

I took shop classes a 4 years in HS.  (in addition to math, science, etc...)  Making something, or fixing a car gave me a sense of accomplishment.  And I learned that I could make money working on cars.  That paid for some of my college working on cars. 

Maybe the trades need to have training programs / internships that pay you to learn.  (I don't know if that exists now or not.)   Rather than rewarding a parent (tax credits) that had a child....  the child (student) gets rewarded for learning a trade.    The student needs to learn.    Kind of like.. . Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.  

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Sorry, socialism doesn't fix the problem.  Give people money and they will go right back to having no money.  Some financial education would be a very good thing.  What is that Chinese expression about teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish? Mick is right. People need a basic education in money matters. 

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21 hours ago, MickinMD said:

But, the U.S. Government's Federal Reserve say that 39% of Americans (as of 2018) don’t have the disposable income to pay for an unplanned emergency costing more than $400.

I'd say it has gotten worse.   American savings statistics for 2020 show that nearly 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 stashed away in their bank.

I'll guess some of the issue is many manufacturing jobs have been lost to other countries, or automation that has the same results, leaving 'service' jobs that tend to may way less then a manufacturing job.  

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3 minutes ago, Bikeguy said:

I'd say it has gotten worse.   American savings statistics for 2020 show that nearly 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 stashed away in their bank.

I'll guess some of the issue is many manufacturing jobs have been lost to other countries, or automation that has the same results, leaving 'service' jobs that tend to may way less then a manufacturing job.  

Frugality has it's downside :D

-------------------------------

On a recent afternoon, Megumi Nakano signed copies of her book for some of her 117,000 Instagram followers, who oohed and aahed at seeing her in the flesh.

Ms. Nakano is no movie star or Olympic medalist. Her path to social-media fame came through champion-level penny-pinching.

With tips on how to use a leftover radish and what to buy at a dollar store, the 40-year-old mother of two has tapped into one of Japan’s enduring passions—to the chagrin of government officials who think the economy could get out its pandemic funk a lot faster if people would stop being so frugal.

Ms. Nakano says saving yen is a lot more rewarding.

“I feel like I’m more affluent at heart now than when I was spending more money and possessed more things,” she said. “It is an affluent frugality.”

The popularity of Ms. Nakano and other celebrity savers might help explain why Japan isn’t experiencing the inflation now afflicting the U.S.

The flip side is that Japan’s economy shrank at a 3.6% annual pace in the quarter through September. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration hopes to spur consumption by handing out the equivalent of $870 for each child via local governments.

Mr. Kishida wanted to distribute half the funds in the form of coupons. “More so than with cash, expenditures for the purpose of child-rearing will be encouraged,” he said in parliament. But thrifty lawmakers argued that localities could save money if they didn’t have to operate a coupon system. Mr. Kishida yielded, and most localities are likely to choose the cheapest way of handing out government largess: 100% cash.

Wherever the money comes from, Ms. Nakano says she doesn’t recommend spending it on anything unnecessary. She won’t have to decide what to do with the handout. Her family exceeded the income limit for eligibility, thanks to her book sales, she said.

While Ms. Nakano’s following is mainly in Japan, she aspires to become as influential as tidying guru Marie Kondo , whose Netflix program was a hit. In place of Ms. Kondo’s “spark joy” motto, Ms. Nakano suggests “have fun.”

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21 hours ago, 12string said:

How does financial education help the people with the real problem?  How do you save and invest the money that you don't, and will never have, when you aren't even able to pay bills and buy decent food?  

NCLB was really a screwed up idea, but had a decent premise.   Maybe instead of financial classes, they get better education in the 3 R's?   Trade school?  A path forward?  A sense of self worth?  A helping hand to get caught up on those bills?  The new child tax credit made a huge difference for a lot of people.

We started our family scraping pennies, skipping bills here and there, no way to save anything.  Worked sort of hard to get where we are now.  But we never worried about food or housing.

N+1?  If we can even joke about that, we can't understand what the real problem is here.  And I'm in no way pretending I can, either.  What I can understand is that my fortunate birthright means I can't come up with the answers.  My attempts to understand it, however, help me ask questions.  I do get some information from my daughter, teaching inner city schools and my wife's experience with a suburban food pantry.  But without actually living it. I can't know it.

 

You say you "scraped by," and so did my parents and so did I when young.  But so many today with lower incomes don't know how to "scrape by."  Somehow, so many of them never learn how to minimize spending.  That's why high schools should be teaching that.

I've known so many people that don't have good incomes but buy cars that cost twice as much as good ones that meet their needs, have to buy a truck with a "hemi" engine even though they don't have a clue about the cylinder shape giving it its name and don't need the 5L engine's power and low gas mileage, won't buy store-brand food or clothes because those are "welfare" items that are beneath them. etc.  They say "You get what you pay for," and dismiss comparison shopping as a waste of time.

They don't realize that saving $1 here, 17 cents there. etc. adds up to a significant amount.  My coupons and cash-back, on ordinary spending, for 2021 have added up to $934.52 plus $134.31 at Costco which will come by email as a gift certificate to be spent or redeemed for cash at Costco around February.

That's something that high school Consumer Math classes would help a some of those people think more clearly about as well as the dangers of falling into debt, especially 30% interest credit card debt.

My family was the poorest on the blook: no car, no gloves some winters, spread the jam thin to make the jar last.  But my mother made sure we didn't go into debt while coming up with the $60 mortgage payment each month.  She grew up in the Depression and learned from it.  We learned from her.

I have a comfortable income, but when I passed store-brand, copycat Ritz crackers at Aldi for half the price of Ritz, I grabbed a box this week to go with the soft cheese ball I got as a Christmas present.

 

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I did the IT work for a homeless shelter for a few years. One of the provisions of staying there was they had to take training classes on how to interview for a job and also home economics type courses. The director and I became very good friends. She shared that a lot of the people in there were there because they did what they learned from their parents and grandparents. They literally didn’t know any different. 
The problem with home ec courses in school is they were usually introduced too late to help the students that really needed it. Many had checked out of school even if they still went to class. The concepts need to be developed in elementary ages so they can build on them rather than being introduced when they aren’t there mentally or physically. 
BTW- we grew up on the poor side of town. Family of 5 in a 9x47 trailer until I was 12. My family room is that size! I remember dropping and breaking a carton of milk walking back from the grocery. We were broke enough Mom grabbed a couple canning jars and we hurried to recover what we could. Things eventually improved. Dad’s work income allowed us to move past some bad decisions I later repeated myself! While we have partial pensions from a former employer and decent 401ks, we are still a few months from eliminating a couple other financial mistakes. 
We were lucky. My brother after his divorce was literally hours away from living in his car. Luckily a friend learned of a lady with a form of boarding house for people like him who were down on their luck. The lady and him fell in love and didn’t take on any other boarders when people moved on. They are still together, but they still make mistakes they should have learned not to repeat. 

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15 hours ago, Bikeguy said:

I used the Google..  apparently the Canada Pension Plan is their version of Social Security (more or less). 

This was from an article almost 10 years ago. The Death Of Shop Class And America's Skilled Workforce    

It seems like education has nearly given up on teaching the trades.  (let alone the 3 Rs)    There is a LOT of opportunity in any of the trades now.  People just need to be understand that there is value in learning.  I'd rather subside trade school for people, rather than forgive some college loan for rather worthless college degrees.   There needs to be a return on my (taxpayer) investment in the education that I pay in taxes every year.  

I took shop classes a 4 years in HS.  (in addition to math, science, etc...)  Making something, or fixing a car gave me a sense of accomplishment.  And I learned that I could make money working on cars.  That paid for some of my college working on cars. 

Maybe the trades need to have training programs / internships that pay you to learn.  (I don't know if that exists now or not.)   Rather than rewarding a parent (tax credits) that had a child....  the child (student) gets rewarded for learning a trade.    The student needs to learn.    Kind of like.. . Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.  

At the HS levels I agree but at the community college level there are numerous trade programs available and JC courses are relatively inexpensive.   

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59 minutes ago, MickinMD said:

You say you "scraped by," and so did my parents and so did I when young.  But so many today with lower incomes don't know how to "scrape by."  Somehow, so many of them never learn how to minimize spending.  That's why high schools should be teaching that.

I've known so many people that don't have good incomes but buy cars that cost twice as much as good ones that meet their needs, have to buy a truck with a "hemi" engine even though they don't have a clue about the cylinder shape giving it its name and don't need the 5L engine's power and low gas mileage, won't buy store-brand food or clothes because those are "welfare" items that are beneath them. etc.  They say "You get what you pay for," and dismiss comparison shopping as a waste of time.

They don't realize that saving $1 here, 17 cents there. etc. adds up to a significant amount.  My coupons and cash-back, on ordinary spending, for 2021 have added up to $934.52 plus $134.31 at Costco which will come by email as a gift certificate to be spent or redeemed for cash at Costco around February.

That's something that high school Consumer Math classes would help a some of those people think more clearly about as well as the dangers of falling into debt, especially 30% interest credit card debt.

My family was the poorest on the blook: no car, no gloves some winters, spread the jam thin to make the jar last.  But my mother made sure we didn't go into debt while coming up with the $60 mortgage payment each month.  She grew up in the Depression and learned from it.  We learned from her.

I have a comfortable income, but when I passed store-brand, copycat Ritz crackers at Aldi for half the price of Ritz, I grabbed a box this week to go with the soft cheese ball I got as a Christmas present.

 

I agree that these classes should be taught (FTR both of my kids had a math teacher who worked financial planning into the curriculum in HS) but I can’t help but think other factors come into play.  

Keeping up with the Joneses, peer pressure & pressure from social media will put pressure on people to buy over their means.  Most of us here seem financially smart but we are the exception.  I mean these classes were taught when my siblings went to school and most are in or going into retirement in huge debt with fancy cars & houses they can’t afford… 

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14 minutes ago, ChrisL said:

At the HS levels I agree but at the community college level there are numerous trade programs available and JC courses are relatively inexpensive.   

Where I live currently but also where I went to high school 30+ years ago we have "vocational" stuff in the high schools.

I doubt we - a suburban system - are unique across the US.

Som of the courses they offer:

  • Automotive Collision Service 1
  • Automotive Collision Service 2
  • Automotive Collision Service 3
  • Automotive Technology 1
  • Automotive Technology 2
  • Automotive Technology 3
  • Carpentry 1
  • Carpentry 2
  • Carpentry 3
  • Construction Tech 1 – Spring Village Residential Construction Site
  • Construction Tech 2 – Spring Village Residential Construction Site
  • Cosmetology 1
  • Cosmetology 2
  • Cosmetology 3
  • Criminal Justice 1
  • Criminal Justice 2
  • Electrical Construction and Engineering 1
  • Electrical Construction and Engineering 2
  • Electrical Construction and Engineering 3
  • Heating, Ventilation, A/C, and Refrigeration 1
  • Heating, Ventilation, A/C, and Refrigeration 2
  • Professional Photography Studio 1
  • Professional Photography Studio 2
  • Professional Television Production 1
  • Professional Television Production 2
  • Professional Television Production 3
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When I worked at Navy Federal we had a partnership with the local middle school (7th and 8th grades). Same school I attended for 8th grade. While I was there I ran into Mrs. Rodgers, my math teacher. She was still there and amazed that I remembered her. But I digress. We facilitated banking classes that discussed the difference between credit unions and banks, savings accounts, compound interest, loans, credit cards, etc. over time, this program evolved into creating and living with budgets. This was moved into the high school level and we held 120 minute sessions for the students in the trade schools. My favorite were the culinary students as they fed us afterwards. The problem that we noticed was that most of the classes just didn’t care what we were saying. We connected with a few on payroll tax deductions. Seeing that money come out of your check made an impression on a few. But a lot of kids, working with $50k annual incomes still spent recklessly on fast cars and gaming systems. They wanted million dollar homes but didn’t understand that meant an $8000 a month mortgage payment. We tried. 

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10 minutes ago, Old No. 7 said:

we noticed was that most of the classes just didn’t care what we were saying

That's a tough crowd to reach.  I have a feeling that you reached more than you think.  A group of high school teens are going to sit there looking bored, trying to impress their classmates about how much they don't need to hear what you're saying.  Meantime, there's more than a few I'd wager are soaking it up and at least made some use of it.

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1 hour ago, Old No. 7 said:

When I worked at Navy Federal we had a partnership with the local middle school (7th and 8th grades). Same school I attended for 8th grade. While I was there I ran into Mrs. Rodgers, my math teacher. She was still there and amazed that I remembered her. But I digress. We facilitated banking classes that discussed the difference between credit unions and banks, savings accounts, compound interest, loans, credit cards, etc. over time, this program evolved into creating and living with budgets. This was moved into the high school level and we held 120 minute sessions for the students in the trade schools. My favorite were the culinary students as they fed us afterwards. The problem that we noticed was that most of the classes just didn’t care what we were saying. We connected with a few on payroll tax deductions. Seeing that money come out of your check made an impression on a few. But a lot of kids, working with $50k annual incomes still spent recklessly on fast cars and gaming systems. They wanted million dollar homes but didn’t understand that meant an $8000 a month mortgage payment. We tried. 

I never took any math classes that included basics in financial planning/budgeting in school. None. I don't think any of my siblings either.

So where did we learn budgeting?  From our parents. Parent(s) continue to be our earliest models...into the 21st century.

They discussed finances right there in front of us, while we watched tv or was doodling around. Discussion included thousands of dollars re planning. They didn't care: it was all in Chinese :)  and we would have only understood 20% of what mom and dad discussed with one another..but they had long thoughtful discussions amongst themselves. It gave us a positive "impression" how possible it was for adults to talk and explore about money in a calm and thinking way. My mother would do calculations in her head while father waited.

Also each of us went shopping with our mother to help her carry groceries homeward...starting from age 9 yrs. old or so. Since we didn't have a car or my father drove it to his job during day. Sure grocery shopping is boring to a kid...don't listen to them. Have kid(s) come along, bored as heck, and accompany...after awhile if the parent has good /healthy food shopping habits, alot of children will eventually soak in those habits.  I'm sorry kid,  life isn't just about their own little world of videogames and tv. It's buying food/other stuff for family for survival.

We used to even tell mother, store specials when we read the newspaper. We treated as a fun, casual exercise. How many children do that voluntarily about grocery food, for their parent(s)????  There are SO MANY simple ways to have children learn at home, read young onward to build in slow awareness of price comparison.  That act does not cost any money nor much parental effort, to ask a child to help out.

My father probably used his credit card less than 10 times in his life. The only loans were: house mortgage and car loan.  So it was paying cash all along. For a family of 6 children on a restaurant cook's salary. By the way,  Canada's public health care insurance system didn't roll out until mid-60's. Already I was 5 yrs. old and there were 3 children.

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Yes, we were  poor. I wrote about this: 5 Kids in One-Bedroom Apartment- Unearthing Space and Its Impact – Cycle Write Blog (wordpress.com)  Myself and all sisters know and have sewn alot of our own clothing over the years. We were taught by mother. Good enough that several sisters sewed their own wedding dresses.. We all still have our own sewing machines..alterations can cost enough money and certain amount  of home alterations is very easy.

I was checking some sewing machine prices...some of them are cheap..however I don't know how sturdy they are...computerized ones really aren't necessary.

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On 12/29/2021 at 11:58 AM, MickinMD said:

I've been wondering what we can do to reduce the ever-greater-percentage of American families struggling to get by.  It's partly bad luck, partly a cultural problem, and partly the fact that America's school systems seem to go out of their way to NOT teach students about handling finances after their school years.

Among my siblings and I, we're lucky we had a mother who taught us how to live beneath our means, budget, etc.

I taught in a school near the huge Fort Meade Army Base which, starting with GI Brides, now has a very-large Korean and Korean-American population.  12% of our students were Korean immigrants or 1st or 2nd generation Korean-Americans.  They are well-behaved and most of them take courses like physics and pre-calculus.  Asian Americans have an average income about 25% higher than White Americans and my experience tells me why.  We can all learn a great lesson by emulating their attitudes and should be teaching courses that teach the things that lead to success - including managing finances.

The huge gains in the stock market in 2020-21, 51.6% for the S&P 500 including dividends (52.4% for me!), paid for almost all the out-of-pocket costs during my burned-down home's rebuilding, including $10,500 for termite damage and two additions I had done. And I have less than six-figures in stocks. The unexpected costs stung, but I had enough savings and a great pension to not get too stressed.

But, the U.S. Government's Federal Reserve say that 39% of Americans (as of 2018) don’t have the disposable income to pay for an unplanned emergency costing more than $400.

So how can it be possible that school systems don't have at least one year of mandatory Consumer Math classes?

I know or know off many who have been absolutely foolish with money and there is always going to be some people like that, but concerning to me is the fact that America is now the most-income-unequal nation on earth and the lowest 40%, that owned 0.4% of America's wealth in 1970, owns 0.1% now.

Much of the problem stems from the fact that school systems seem to go out of their way to NOT teach about handling finances when the students finish their schooling. In fact, No Child Left Behind and increased requirements for science and math credits caused most systems to terminate courses like Home Economics and low-level Business Math classes because they didn't sound good: instead students got watered-down, virtually worthless courses like "Elements of Geometry."

 

 

Oops, on top of vocational training options locally, apparently a mandate in Virginia has made personal finance also something that has to be taught.

Economics and Personal Finance (EPF) Overview

Graduation Requirement

Legislation passed by the 2010 General Assembly requires one additional credit in economics and personal finance to be completed prior to graduation.  This applies to all students enrolled in 9th grade during or after the 2011-12 school year. This additional course is required for the Standard and Advanced Studies Diplomas.

Students may not “test out” of the graduation requirement. However, FCPS continues to explore options for the delivery of this course. All courses (online or face-to face) are based on a minimum of 140 hours of instruction.

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4 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

Oops, on top of vocational training options locally, apparently a mandate in Virginia has made personal finance also something that has to be taught.

Economics and Personal Finance (EPF) Overview

Graduation Requirement

Legislation passed by the 2010 General Assembly requires one additional credit in economics and personal finance to be completed prior to graduation.  This applies to all students enrolled in 9th grade during or after the 2011-12 school year. This additional course is required for the Standard and Advanced Studies Diplomas.

Students may not “test out” of the graduation requirement. However, FCPS continues to explore options for the delivery of this course. All courses (online or face-to face) are based on a minimum of 140 hours of instruction.

There are some youngsters, not as many, just so gung-ho to be FIRE, retire young and working away investing their savings.  I just hope it's not  all crypto /bitcoin.

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4 hours ago, MickinMD said:

You say you "scraped by," and so did my parents and so did I when young.  But so many today with lower incomes don't know how to "scrape by."  Somehow, so many of them never learn how to minimize spending.  That's why high schools should be teaching that.

I've known so many people that don't have good incomes but buy cars that cost twice as much as good ones that meet their needs, have to buy a truck with a "hemi" engine even though they don't have a clue about the cylinder shape giving it its name and don't need the 5L engine's power and low gas mileage, won't buy store-brand food or clothes because those are "welfare" items that are beneath them. etc.  They say "You get what you pay for," and dismiss comparison shopping as a waste of time.

They don't realize that saving $1 here, 17 cents there. etc. adds up to a significant amount.  My coupons and cash-back, on ordinary spending, for 2021 have added up to $934.52 plus $134.31 at Costco which will come by email as a gift certificate to be spent or redeemed for cash at Costco around February.

That's something that high school Consumer Math classes would help a some of those people think more clearly about as well as the dangers of falling into debt, especially 30% interest credit card debt.

My family was the poorest on the blook: no car, no gloves some winters, spread the jam thin to make the jar last.  But my mother made sure we didn't go into debt while coming up with the $60 mortgage payment each month.  She grew up in the Depression and learned from it.  We learned from her.

I have a comfortable income, but when I passed store-brand, copycat Ritz crackers at Aldi for half the price of Ritz, I grabbed a box this week to go with the soft cheese ball I got as a Christmas present.

 

Back to the part a lot of people aren't getting.

"scraped by" means in 1984, our household income was about $28K.  We didn't overspend on anything.  My "financial education" helped a lot  My "scraping by" was many times over easier than what the poor are dealing with.

Fast forward to today, add in inflation.  A full time minimum wage job provides $15K annually.  With no health insurance.  That barely covers bad food and rent in a crappy apartment.   What "financial education" is going to do them any good, there isn't any finance to use wisely.  Buy  cheaper car?  How about there isn't ANY car?  Bus fare, on a good week.

 

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16 minutes ago, 12string said:

Back to the part a lot of people aren't getting.

"scraped by" means in 1984, our household income was about $28K.  We didn't overspend on anything.  My "financial education" helped a lot  My "scraping by" was many times over easier than what the poor are dealing with.

Fast forward to today, add in inflation.  A full time minimum wage job provides $15K annually.  With no health insurance.  That barely covers bad food and rent in a crappy apartment.   What "financial education" is going to do them any good, there isn't any finance to use wisely.  Buy  cheaper car?  How about there isn't ANY car?  Bus fare, on a good week.

 

At the very least, this is why American public health care insurance system needs to keep on improving. It would be the main thing that separates the poor in Canada vs. U.S.

What would you suggest needs to change...several different things? 

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4 minutes ago, shootingstar said:

At the very least, this is why American public health care insurance system needs to keep on improving. It would be the main thing that separates the poor in Canada vs. U.S.

What would you suggest needs to change...several different things? 

Our health system is just dumb.  If you have a good job and can afford health care, you get insurance with that job.  If you have a crappy job or no job and can't afford health care, sucks to be you.  There's a good reason we're the only major developed country with a for profit health care system.  And the "for profit has a lot to do with why that system's level of care is well below that of other countries.  Sure, government inefficiencies add cost.  Not nearly as much as the entire Insurance industry and the health care systems' profits.

As for the poverty situation - I don't really know what it takes to give people a way out, or the incentive to take it.  I have never been in their shoes, I can't understand what they need.  I do know that teaching financial sense in school will help the lower middle class, but be useless for the poor.  The purpose of a government is to ensure the common good and welfare of it's people, we aren't doing that well.

I'm not saying it's a bad idea to teach kids about money.  Just that our privilege is showing when we think that's the way to get people out of the slums.  Not castigating people, just pointing it out.  To myself, also.

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27 minutes ago, 12string said:

Our health system is just dumb.  If you have a good job and can afford health care, you get insurance with that job.  If you have a crappy job or no job and can't afford health care, sucks to be you.  There's a good reason we're the only major developed country with a for profit health care system.  And the "for profit has a lot to do with why that system's level of care is well below that of other countries.  Sure, government inefficiencies add cost.  Not nearly as much as the entire Insurance industry and the health care systems' profits.

As for the poverty situation - I don't really know what it takes to give people a way out, or the incentive to take it.  I have never been in their shoes, I can't understand what they need.  I do know that teaching financial sense in school will help the lower middle class, but be useless for the poor.  The purpose of a government is to ensure the common good and welfare of it's people, we aren't doing that well.

I'm not saying it's a bad idea to teach kids about money.  Just that our privilege is showing when we think that's the way to get people out of the slums.  Not castigating people, just pointing it out.  To myself, also.

I guess we expect if the person healthy..they should start helping themselves abit, take a few measured  slow steps   --with lots of helpful supportive folks who will show/chat and listen with them. People hate being lectured...and do need to be listened.  Some of us grew up in families where parents didn't have to rant to us about being poor. We were just not given certain nicer/extra things.  We  just kinda knew after awhile there was no point. Above all, never to blame a child for the family being poor.

In my family, none of the kids were given an allowance. Which is kinda incredible for the end  result  for what we became, in my own  family, us siblings managed  to have decent budgeting habits as a adults. I'm not sure what helped in a good result So you can imagine, we were each motivated to get a  part-time job while in our senior HS years. 

I guess 12-string, my father, plus over 10 different  immigrant relatives in each of their families....were each headed by a immigrant breadwinner who worked as cook /busboy or server in Chinese restaurants in Ontario. So the entire generation of my parents and relatives ARE poor working class.   There IS a profound reason why 2nd and 3rd generations have bombed their asses off into universities /colleges to increase (not guaranteed) options for better paying professions/less taxing physical labour jobs.  

No one for relatives in  China are  professionals nor have office jobs.....all the relatives with office jobs /  professionals or educated past HS folks, are in Canada. I would say our standard of living is even abit better than our American relatives who also began working in restaurants and garment factories.  I see this difference within my own extended family and across 3 generations.

I say so clearly....immigrants contribute enormously to a society....and to the economies across North America.  

 

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9 minutes ago, shootingstar said:

n my family, none of the kids were given an allowance.

Interesting you would mention that.  We never gave the kids allowance.  It never really came up.  I never liked the idea of paying kids for doing chores.  A common statement in our house was "you live here, you work here".  That was also applied to the neighbor kids who pretty much grew up in our home.  A sense of stewardship - this is your home and family, take care of it.  We would give them money for entertainment and such.  Provided for their needs.  Their wants?  We gave them, well, permission to get a job.

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6 minutes ago, 12string said:

Interesting you would mention that.  We never gave the kids allowance.  It never really came up.  I never liked the idea of paying kids for doing chores.  A common statement in our house was "you live here, you work here".  That was also applied to the neighbor kids who pretty much grew up in our home.  A sense of stewardship - this is your home and family, take care of it.  We would give them money for entertainment and such.  Provided for their needs.  Their wants?  We gave them, well, permission to get a job.

I agree. After all, our parents are working still home at times. Especially mother since she was full time housewife. Father might have been sleeping /napping after finishing work at 1:00 am (joys of restaurant cook work). We each had to ask for stuff and of course, it was something we truly wanted and thought about in advance.

I guess my parents didn't  have money to hang over any of us, to "motivate" us. 

 

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