Yesterday as I was getting my haircut by a nice lady who has cut my hair once or twice before. She is probably in her late 50’s/early 60’s, and after exchanging the usual pleasantries the conversation took an unexpected turn. She asked what I did for a living, so I mentioned I work in marketing for a finance company. She quickly interrupted:

“Like a financial advisor? I am in need of some advice”

I let her know that I am NOT a financial advisor, however I do enjoy discussing investing and have a blog about personal finance.

What she said next – I couldn’t believe.

“My car dealer is offering me a new car for 5.5%, it would be for 7 years do you think I should do it?”

Before I could even mention that 7 years is a long time to finance a car – or that she may be able to get a lower interest rate through a different lender – or ask about her overall financial situation, or determine if she even NEED’S a new car- she continued:

“They said I could trade in my current car for this newer one, and the payments would only be a little bit more since my current car loan is 16%.”

Me:

After explaining that a 16% car loan is INSANE & basically like buying a car on a credit card – I offered some advice about refinancing, home equity loans, debt consolidation and more.

Although I am not sure if she will take any of my advice – it got me thinking about a much larger issue. ** Financial literacy/education seems to be incredibly low among the general population** – which is crazy considering we are living in a time where there is so much information available to us.

When I was in high school there were 3 types of math you could take.

- Pre Calculus
- Applied Mathematics
- Consumer Mathematics

If you asked anyone in the school (students or teachers) what they thought about each course – this is overwhelmingly how they would respond:

- Pre-Cal is a must take – it is required for most university courses – focuses on “algebra and number, measurement, permutations, combinations and binomial theorem, relations and functions, and trigonometry
- Applied Math – required for post secondary programs that do not require the study of theoretical calculus. Topics include: Geometry, Measurement, number relations & functions and more.
- Consumer Math (now known as “Essentials Mathematics”. I kid you not, people used to call this “retard” math. First of all – I hate using that word – but I just wanted to stress how backwards our curriculum and general thinking on what is important/essential. According to the government of Manitoba website this course is best if you do not require further studies in advanced mathematics. This course focused on: Interest rates, amortization, budgeting, taxes, compounding & more.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that Calculus isn’t important, or that there aren’t certain careers that will require you to learn these things -but every single person – in every possible career choice at some point in their life would benefit from taking Consumer math. The problem is – the majority of students don’t – and are in fact encouraged to take one of the other 2. When I was in high school I ended up taking Applied Math & Consumer math – and although I think the consumer course was probably too easy **it should be a required course for all students** (perhaps while also making it more challenging).

I can only hope that things have changed since I was in high school – but looking at the government of Manitoba’s website – it doesn’t appear so. I am not sure what the solution is, and I am not even sure if this is problem all across Canada or just in Manitoba but I am pretty confident – without a shift in the way we educate children/teenagers on finances, budgets, economics and critical thinking – we will continue to have situations where our hairdressers are telling customers about their 16% interest car loan – and that is quite frankly depressing.

Just curious if anyone has any feedback on the high school’s they went to – or are currently going to. Have things changed?

Things are definitely changing. At least in our schools. Financial literacy is not institutionalized. I do feel it’s more like a game to kids. However, I have seen small companies being formed … trading happens on hand made cards … payment is through some system I don’t even understand. Most of the parents I met seem to have some kind of reward system .. to encourage good behavior and teach the concept of money. Not much about investing though.

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I’m not too concerned if kids aren’t learning about investing – but I DO think a very basic understanding of savings, compounding, budgeting, etc should be mandatory in schools. If you teach the basics, and they understand them – they will WANT to start saving & investing anyway.

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Jordan, Not having kids, I can’t add much to the math conversation. I’m a little older and feel like kids are way more advanced and pushed harder than when I went to school. I did want to thank you for visiting my site and adding DD to your blogroll recently I have added you into mine this afternoon and it’s nice to “virtually” meet you. Tom

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Hey Tom! Thanks for stopping by. My pleasure adding you and nice to “meet” you as well!

Keep up the good work in 2018!

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wow, yup that’s insane. The financial education people get in schools is a joke. I really don’t get it. Society would be soo much better long term. Of course there will be a couple bad years in the economy as people pay off their debt vs spend it all. That’s part of the reason I blog, hopefully someone will learn something from it.

Hope you helped her out

Cheers

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When I was in high school there was actually a business class that I took that went into these types of details but it was an honors level elective and most people didn’t take it. It was a good class but what good is a class if 2% of the people take it.

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Yea I hear ya…that is why I think it should be mandatory…..We had a few similar option classes to take as well – and our high school offered a “business diploma” to go along with your HS diploma if you took enough business courses. I think i took every single one the school offered…haha.

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Jordan, great post! The situation that you mentioned with your barber is exactly what I meant when I wrote my recent post on financial education. Just wow! A car loan at 16% is bizarre. I work in a similar space as you, and I have seen a lot of similar situations. Thanks for the great read! I agree about financial education 100%!

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