Throughout my schooling, I knew next to nothing about personal finance. Taxes, interest, credit cards, loans, and savings were nearly foreign concepts to me. When I look back, I wish I had taken the time to learn about managing my finances while I was in school.
In high school, I took courses like Theatre Production and Creative Writing. In university, I took Advertising, Canadian Literature, and Advanced French. While these courses did build on my skills and interests, my short stint in post-grad life has taught me that I should've spent more time learning about money topics in school.
Ideally, I would've taken courses to help me become financially savvy before entering adulthood. Here are some personal finance courses I wish I could've taken in school.
How to File your Taxes
This course would cover the process of filing taxes, best methods for keeping a record of receipts, what the different sections on a tax return mean, why we file taxes, what to file, and how to file. The course would culminate with a final exam complete with definitions and long- and short-answer questions about filing taxes.
Budgeting looks different throughout the different stages of one's life. This course would encompass how to budget for different situations: as a student, as a recent graduate, and as someone who has been in the work force for a few years. Budgeting 101 would also teach students how to keep track of their budget and how often they should re-assess their budget. The final assignment would be for each student to create a budget based on their current expenses and present it to the class.
Loans: Taking them out and Paying them Back
I've found that loans are a significant part of the real world and learning how to be a responsible adult. Student loans, lines of credit, and mortgages are just some of the kinds of loans people might come across in their lifetime, and this course would cover the different kinds of loans, responsible loan management, when and how to apply for a loan, determining if you need a loan, and most importantly, how to pay back a loan. This course would require a group project, where each group creates a report that includes a mock application for a loan and a repayment plan.
Taxes, budgeting and loans are three areas I wish I had gained proficiency in while I was in school, rather than learning about them on the fly. I'd recommend that any student who has an opportunity to take a class in personal finance should consider it.
While I didn't take any personal finance courses in school, I did learn about personal finance through experience and asking questions. As I got older, my parents taught me about filing taxes, my sister helped me budget, and going to school gave me experience with student loans. If I have a personal finance question or I'm confused about something, I usually turn to friends, family and reliable internet sources to help me out.