Rebroadcast - Exploring Education: Should K-12 Schools Teach Financial Literacy?

Aug 25, 2019

In the first part of our 4-part series on K-12 education, we look at what role schools should play in helping students learn life skills for money management. Several states require financial literacy classes for high school students, and Senator Hassan has co-sponsored federal legislation to support financial literacy classes in schools. We look at the role of schools in helping students learn to manage money: what skills do students need, and what are N.H. schools doing? 

This show previously aired on July 29th, 2019. 

GUESTS:

  • Angela Castonguay - College Counselor with the  N.H. Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF). Angela also teaches a financial literacy course at a private high school in Portsmouth.
  • Daniel Hebert - State President of the New Hampshire Jump$tart Coalition, a nonprofit aimed at improving the personal financial education of students throughout New Hampshire through a corps of volunteers. 

Transcript:

This is a computer-generated transcript and may contain errors.

Laura Knoy:
From New Hampshire Public Radio, I'm Laura Knoy and this is The Exchange.

Laura Knoy:
Today, on The Exchange, we began a four part series on K through 12 education in New Hampshire for the next four Mondays will focus on a different subject concerning students, teachers and schools. Our topics were chosen with help from you, our listeners. And today we kick it off with financial literacy in terms of the life skills students need to become successful adults. Money management is key. And yet many New Hampshire schools don't offer financial education. Today, we explore why what other states do and what financial literacy programs do exist. Let's hear from YouTube. Our e-mail exchange at nhpr.org use Facebook or Twitter and HP Exchange will give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7.

Laura Knoy:
And our show is also on Facebook live today. So you can listen and watch there if you'd like. Our guests are Daniel Hebert. He's state president of the New Hampshire Jumpstart Coalition. It's a nonprofit aimed at improving the personal financial education of students throughout New Hampshire through a corps volunteers. And Dan, nice to see you. Welcome back.

Daniel Hebert:
Thank you, Laura. Nice to see you as well.

Laura Knoy:
Also with us, Angela Castonguay. She's a college counselor with the NHHEAF Network Organizations, which stands for the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation. And Angela also teaches a financial literacy course at a private high school in Portsmouth. And Angela, welcome. It's really good to see you.

Angela Castonguay:
Great. Thanks for having me.

Well, both of you, in preparation for our series to kick it off today. And thank you for being here, helping us with that. We asked our listeners what types of topics they'd like us to cover in education. And many, many people said life skills. And among those life skills, financial literacy kept bubbling up to the top. So here we are. And Dan, I want to start with you. Just first, a definition. What is financial literacy and what isn't it?

Daniel Hebert:
So I guess I would say financial literacy is the possession of skills and knowledge that a person has to make informed decisions about money management. So there's my elevator pitch for that. I say, what, it's not it's not technology. It's not all financial services and it's not a one time course. I see this as a lifelong learning process. And and I think, you know, you and I could agree that we've learned a lot about how to manage money over the course of our years. So that would be my my answer to that.

Laura Knoy:
Angela, how would you answer it.

For me? Financial literacy with the college set especially is an awareness of finances going in. Eyes wide open and looking at long term money consequences or are where are we?

Angela Castonguay:
Yeah. Eyes wide open. That's how I'm going to say going in for money with eyes wide open. And a lot of people don't do that. Yeah.

Laura Knoy:
Would you agree, Dan?

Daniel Hebert:
Absolutely.

Daniel Hebert:
Yeah. It's all about knowing your needs and wants. Yeah. Saving for the future. You know, it's funny. I find myself now trying to guard my words because I use expressions that nobody knows anymore.

Laura Knoy:
Give us an example.

Daniel Hebert:
Saving for a rainy day.

Daniel Hebert:
The School of hard knocks. You know, nobody knows those. Those phrases anymore uses them readily. So I'm trying to be a little more current here, Laura. I'm trying to do the best I can.

Laura Knoy:
Well, you be you, Dan.

Daniel Hebert:
All right.

You know, speaking of terms that might possibly be outdated, do young people taking financial literacy courses today learn how to balance a checkbook? Do people even have checkbooks anymore? And most people use credit and debit cards, Angela?

Angela Castonguay:
I was going to say no. When I talk about balancing a checkbook, most of them just stare at me and they honestly, they don't even track debit with like they don't even track those kind of purchases at all. So, no, I would definitely say I don't see that. I don't know if Dan does, but.

Laura Knoy:
So it isn't balancing a checkbook. It's balancing a debit card, keeping track of your debit.

Angela Castonguay:
I would say checking your balance. I think that's about as relevant as they see it. Have you checked your balance lately? Have you? Do you see fees? Those are sort of things that I think they I when we talk about debit, did you know that there is a dollar 25 transaction fee or it sometimes at an A.T.M., it could be as high as three dollars when you're on vacation in certain locations? Right. Those kind of things is, again, that eyes wide open. That literacy piece to me is having them become aware of literacy, financial situations. And I just don't feel like that awareness is there.

Laura Knoy:
How much do you think, Dan, you first, but Angela won't hear from you, too. How much do you think this concept of financial literacy has changed over the past 20 or 25 years? You've been doing Jump Start, Dan, for 20 years.

Daniel Hebert:
Right. So think about that 25 years. That's 1994, right? I've done the math. Right. Right on the mark offering. Do you know that in 1994, The West Wing first premiered?

Laura Knoy:
I did not know. So.

So tonight you go home and you and you tell your your your kids about that 25 years ago in 1994. Really? And it's that's a year that resonates with me because I was still in banking. And that was the year that the secondary market in housing really exploded. So banks no longer held onto their mortgage loans. They sold them on the secondary market. What does that mean? That was the birth of the subprime lending. And we know what took place 12 years later with the Great Recession. So in that time period, people no longer had to, quote, qualify for a mortgage. They were simply found a way to put it into a mortgage loan, whether they should or shouldn't. And many of those folks didn't have the knowledge on how to handle that. Didn't have that.

Daniel Hebert:
Back to my point. Informed decisions about what to do. Not to mention just to maintain the home. Also, 1994, the beginning really of an explosion in credit card use. So what did that do to us culturally? We went from a culture of saving to spend, to buy now pay later. And that's an important thing. If you remember as a kid, you wanted to buy a bike, you would save your money to buy that bike. Today we buy that bike and we pay it later. That's that culture shift. That's 25 years ago. And then at the end of that decade came online commerce. And that changes everything. Right. That changes our psychology. That changes how we approach money. That that changes our impulse buying. Consumerism changed dramatically. Back to those informed decisions. So that was a big watershed moment for me in 1994. And it's interesting that you bring it up because it keeps me up at night thinking about the changes.

Laura Knoy:
Well, that's really important. You made three important points there. One, qualifying for a mortgage, how that's changed. But even for younger people, you know, middle schoolers and high schoolers here aren't thinking along those lines just yet. The idea that you can just buy it now and pay it later and then online. Sure, so right. If you want now and it's 11:00 at night on a Sunday, you can buy it. You can just go online and get it. So what's your perspective on that, Angela? How things have changed in terms of financial literacy?

Angela Castonguay:
I would say observationally in teaching the courses and stuff. There are two examples. One is I speak about being in a grocery store with my mom when I was a kid and not that we were we were just straight up middle class. But my mom, when she went to grocery stores, paid in cash. And so we were in the candy aisle like are that tempting piece right before you're paying your groceries that every mom dreads? Right. My mom could legitimately say no, and I don't have the money. I don't have the cash. And that was legit. Kids today say things like my nephew said one time to my sister in law, just let the man in the canoe pay it. Her credit card had a man in a kayak. It was an L.L. Bean credit card. And he goes, the man in the kayak can pay for it. And that was his visual, that that's how mom pays for everything. So there isn't a hard line. There is always that gray. Maybe we can negotiate as maybe we can buy it like it was very different. And I talk about that example and kids can relate to that. Like, yeah, I guess that's true. I I do just always assume mom can put that card down and pay for it.

Laura Knoy:
It makes it harder to to resist, especially for young people that impulse control isn't, you know, right or set hard boundary like limits.

Angela Castonguay:
And the other thing is my children will refer to things as, don't worry, mom. It'll be here in two days because they know that if I buy it on Amazon, it comes two days later. And there is that commerce that eat that nothing is. I have to go to the store. I have to buy it. If mom buys it, the mailman delivers it two days later. So that again, is that e commerce budgeting thing.

Daniel Hebert:
Right. So, you know, research continues to show that kids learn how to manage their money by watching their parents. So if you think back, if if if you were back in my day when I was a little one, my mom had the envelope system. So, you know, dad's check would come in in cash. She would put them in these different envelopes. And I could see and visually understand that this envelope went for the mortgage. This went for food. This went for this as one for that. We learned that, not to mention when you go to a bank and I would bring in my paper route money, so go to the teller. She, you know, post the transaction. I see the interest that is learned that is that was earned from the time that I last deposited. This is how we learned today.

Daniel Hebert:
No one goes to a bank. Very few people go to a bank. We make our deposits on a phone. Right. We don't even like going to an A.T.M. anymore because we're worried about whether, you know, it's safe or they've been compromised. It's changing so rapidly that many times I feel like the folks in my MySpace financial education space were losing ground to technology because I'm afraid that we don't take the time to talk about a checkbook. We don't show a kid, you know, rather than the online statements, show a checkbook, make the withdrawal, make the deposit, show how that works, create that math going.

Daniel Hebert:
That's what I think creates that instinct and that that that awareness to create that informed decision.

Angela Castonguay:
So that's a great point.

Laura Knoy:
Let's talk about how young people do get informed or don't get informed through the schools anyway here in New Hampshire. And I want to our listeners to join us as well today. In exchange, we're going in-depth. We're beginning a four part series on education in the Granite State based on what listeners said they wanted to hear each Monday. We're going to cover a different topic and we're kicking it off today with financial literacy in schools. We're asking what schools do now to prepare students for successful money management. And we'll talk a little bit about whether that should be their role or not. And we definitely get to hear from you. So send us an e-mail exchange at an HP yours org. Use Facebook or Twitter at an HP exchange or call in 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 1 800 8 9 2. And HP Ya. Dan sent us a note on Instagram. Dan says, Start with the basics, like balancing a checkbook and a savings account. Later on in high school, they should be discussing loans, mortgages and interest rates. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Thank you, Dan, for that. In the financial literacy courses that you guys give it jumpstart. Dan Herbert, what do you cover? What are some of the basics you cover, say, for middle schoolers?

Daniel Hebert:
So when we're talking about middle schools, we're really talking about the beginning of their consumer habits. Right now, all middle school kids have phones. You know, they know how to buy things online. So so that's where our focus is there. But to take Dan's point further, at the second grade level, which is where research shows a child becomes a consumer at 7. Okay. Now talk about something that. Would keep us all up at night. Your little Zoe, right. She is now a consumer. So in our I Can Save program that we have partnered with New Hampshire bankers that we used to do with the NI folks. All we talk about is needs versus wants. That's it. That's the concept. At second grade needs versus want. Do you need this or do you want it? If you want it. How do we pay for it? And you know, what's the importance of charitable giving? So they're spending, they're saving and they're sharing. Those are the concepts.

Daniel Hebert:
We. We go there and the middle school, you can go up a little bit more. Right. And you start talking about the value of compound interest. Oh, my God. These kids have so much power at their hands because they've got that age, length ahead of them. You know, for me to start saving now at my age, I don't nearly have the power that your two sons have. If we start saving now and to show that compound interest, both on the saving side as well as the loan side, so you can start talking about credit cards. So it's a vitally important thing. We have great teachers in our state that'll do that.

Laura Knoy:
Well, I want to ask you both about credit cards in a minute. But I love what you said, Dan, about presenting the idea to kids as young as seven wants versus needs. And how do you pay for it? And Angela, how much do you see financial literacy as about somebodies head in terms of knowing how the debit card works, knowing how the team works versus someone's heart, how they feel about money, the values they attached to it?

Angela Castonguay:
Well, in the course that I teach, that was how it was presented to me to to work with the students. And one of the first things I talk about is how we get money. We are influenced as consumers, like you said, Dan, from two places, both in our home as well as in society. And I have them start to break down some of the messages that we're giving and receiving. So, for example, I talk about how many kids have heard the expression money doesn't grow on trees. And of course, every one of them can roll their eyes and relate to that. That a mom is probably or a dad is probably said that to them at some point. But we also hear things like money is the root of all evil or, you know, money makes the world go round. You know that couples always fight about money. I mean, there are things that we're getting as messages about money all the time. And a bunch of the kids really think about the fact that some of them are choosing professions based on some of these beliefs. Even, you know, money doesn't buy happiness. That might be your social worker. That might be the kid who wants to do Peace Corps.

Angela Castonguay:
And then the kid who thinks he who has the most toys wins might want to go into financial, you know, to financing. They their beliefs are actually driving life decisions even. So we talk about it and really have them sit and think about who are you and where are you getting these messages? And is that dictating some of how you are going to be a consumer? That's really interesting. That must be eye opening for people. And it's really interesting when they start saying things like, oh, my, my aunt says this or my grandma says that, and they start to hear all those messaging that they're getting from. And what I think is interesting is even in a marriage and your listeners could probably hear is how many times as a couple, you both don't have the same message.

Laura Knoy:
And because you grew up in two completely different households, in two different societies or right towns and have different roles in the family of the budget or who's the, you know, dreamer or whatever. So, yeah, the budget year and the day. That sounds like a whole nother show, but yeah. Go ahead head isn't it?

Daniel Hebert:
Isn't it funny? As parents we talk to our kids about sex. We talk to them about drugs. We don't tend to talk to them about money. And you know, I'm not sure why money became the taboo subject. But I go back to what I said earlier. Parents are huge in helping kids understand the importance of this and making those informed decisions. Had a friend of mine once who's a little boy loved the little packets of Oreo cookies, and so he would call it the Oreo factor. And so those cookies or whatever doll or 99 cents would have you. So as they would go through an aisle and the kid would say, you know, I really like this toy, you say, well, that's worth 20 Oreos. Is that worth it to you? And he'd make that decision. I thought that was brilliant. And it's that psychology that, you know, is as we start to talk about credit cards and how we transact money today. That's changed dramatically. So. So these points that Angel are making are fabulous.

Laura Knoy:
So you said, Dan, parents are key. What about schools then? Is it really appropriate for schools to be teaching financial literacy? Maybe it's more should be based more on the values of a particular family.

Daniel Hebert:
If this were 1956, I would be totally in agreement with you. But the the financial services landscape has changed so rapidly and we talk about that cultural change since the 90s. I mean, in 1994, you know, today's millennial parents were, what, 9, 10? You know, something in that that area they've grown up in this time of consumption. And in the same time, financial services have change technique, technology has improved. I mean, could you and I have imagined five years ago the the ability for me right now to get on my smartphone and buy something from Amazon and have it there tomorrow? As Angela was saying, I mean, that just wasn't going to be the case. So as it comes to schools, schools are definitely the partner in this. And I can tell you after doing this for 20 years that kids want to learn this. Teachers want to teach it.

Daniel Hebert:
And we're positioned in New Hampshire in a very unique way to be able to offer it in a large way.

Laura Knoy:
Well, and after a break, I want to ask about what does exist in New Hampshire schools, what does not, what other states do, because I know there's a lot to unpack there on this question of whether schools should teach this. David wrote us a note on Facebook. He says schools should absolutely teach financial literacy.

David says, I took a graduate course in engineering economics. A lot of that was about considering the time, value of money, something business majors learn early on. For example, calculating the cost of a home improvement over time, which takes inflation and the cost of money into account. David, thank you very much. We'll keep taking your questions and comments to after a short break. You can give us a call, 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. Facebook or Twitter is great. It's an NPR exchange. Send us an email exchange at nhpr.org. More on financial literacy in schools in just a moment. This is The Exchange on an HP.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange, I'm Laura Knoy. Today, we're kicking off a four part series on education in the Granite State. Each Monday, we'll cover a different topic. Today, it's financial literacy. What can and should schools do to prepare students to manage their money as adults? What do you think? Send us an e-mail exchange at an HP port org. Use Facebook or Twitter at an HP exchange. Our number is 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 1 889 2 6 4 7 7. My guests in studio, Dan Hebert, state president of the New Hampshire Jumpstart Coalition, that's a nonprofit aimed at improving the personal financial education of students in New Hampshire. Angela Castonguay is here. She's a college counselor with the NHHEAF Network organizations and she teaches a financial literacy course at a private high school in Portsmouth. And both of you. Lots and lots of input from our listeners. So let's go to them. And Beth is calling in New London. Hi, Beth. You're on the air. Welcome.

Laura Knoy:
Hi. How are you? Good. Go ahead.

Caller:
I just wanted to say. My son took a personal finance class at Hanover High School senior year when he was in high school and it was exceptional.

Caller:
And then the teacher came in and just laid out all his actual bills on the table and also told the kids how much money he made. And so this is where he. His money lent. And the other thing he did was he he talked to them about the importance of establishing credit, getting a credit card early on. And so but. But I wanted to say, you know, the class was fantastic, but my son almost didn't take it because in competitive high school, there's a push, a strong push for the kids to take calculus senior year, and they need that to get it to court.

So a lot of colleges. So. So he had to take he took calculus. Plus this personal finance class, a lot of kids would just take calculus because personal finance was an elective. So I think that's part of the problem is the kids schedules are so packed with classes that are are either AP classes or prerequisites that they really you know, it's hard to get those kinds of what I looked at as light classes. Yeah. But I'll say you that class really changed his outlook on money. He was one of the first kids of his friends to have a credit card establish credit early on. And it really taught him a lot more than calculus.

Wow. Beth, thank you so much for calling. I want to know both our guests are sort of shaking their heads. First to you, Angela. What do you think about this call?

Angela Castonguay:
I completely agree. Being a college counselor, that there's so much emphasis being put on what the colleges want for college readiness, and especially if they're looking at competitive colleges, what levels they need to attain. And you're right, those like real life, I think hard skills, but we'll say soft skills are definitely put to the wayside. And the school that brings me in to do this, what I respect about it is sort of they realize you're not going to be successful in college if you don't understand the college debt or understand budgeting and all of that. But but you're right. I could see how easily that could be put to the wayside when we have students graduating four years after that competitive college who literally have never looked up how much they have borrowed in total or what that payment is going to look like. So I think it hinders that college success personally. But you're right, I can see how, unfortunately for college planning, it gets put to the wayside.

Laura Knoy:
Well, and a fair number of kids, I don't know the percentage, but drop out because of the financial burden that they face.

Laura Knoy:
And so maybe if they had had this course and maybe understood or they're a little bit.

Angela Castonguay:
Or their parents inability to co-sign the assumption. And I kind of speak a little bit to what Dan said earlier, because I thought it was such a great point about parents not speaking about their finances. I absolutely have sat in FAFSA filings where parents have asked students to walk out of the room at the question of how much do you earn or what your adjusted gross income. And today, for several reasons, sometimes they don't want the student to think they have money. And that's interesting. Or they don't want them to see that they don't have money.

Laura Knoy:
Well, on the FAFSA, by the way, is this financial a free application federal student aid. Sorry.

Laura Knoy:
Let's take another call. This is Kathleen in Center Harbor. Hi, Kathleen. You're on The Exchange. Welcome.

Caller:
Hi. I just want to say, I worked for the school district in New Hampshire and we did a survey that asked them of all of our stakeholders what was what what they wanted to graduate to know when they left. And financial literacy was the top thing for parents and students. However, in actuality, when we offer financial literacy classes. Very few didn't sign up, and I'm not sure what we're how we get that to happen, because there seems to be a disconnect here, what people are saying or why and what can actually fit into their spirits or actually what to do or I'm not sure what the what the issue is, why they don't get sponsors. But that's what separates the actuality is within our district.

Laura Knoy:
Kathleen, this is really interesting. And Dan, this relates to Beth's call as well. These courses are not required. And even when they're offered, Kathleen says people don't take them. So why not just walk us through it if he couldn't? What is the requirement in New Hampshire for financial literacy, if any?

Daniel Hebert:
Yes. I'm beginning to think I'm going to drive to New London and to Center Harbor and buy both of these ladies a cup of coffee. So this is a fabulous Segway. New Hampshire's in a unique position of being the only state in New England that requires economics for graduation. State requirement embedded in that requirement is a standard for personal finance. It's based on I have a prop here since we're on Facebook. So just show it. It's based on the National Jumpstart Standards for personal financial literacy.

Laura Knoy:
So let me just back up. New Hampshire is the only state that requires economics as a high school graduation as of today. Oh, correct. And embedded in that is personal finance. Correct. So we're doing right.

Daniel Hebert:
Well, one would think. Right. Laura, that on paper, every kid that has the goes to a public high school has to take economics and as a result would get exposed to personal finance. However, I've had teachers tell me over the years that our school doesn't even offer economics. And so I'm sitting there thinking it's a state requirement. How is it that they not do it? Well, we live in a state that loves local control, as does many other states. So what we did in New Hampshire Jumpstart embarked on a few years ago is we decided to teach her to determine who teaches what. In our states. So we surveyed all 80 whatever high schools, downloaded their program of studies and and looked to see who did what. And we're in the process of updating that survey this year. The last one was in 2017.

Daniel Hebert:
And I'm happy to tell you that in 2017, we identified eight school districts that not only met the economics requirement, but also the district required a stand alone course in personal finance. So for us, that's the holy grail right there. And the difference is it's a district like Hinsdale and Bedford to socioeconomically different communities. Yet, you know, they want their kids to have this requirement. Now, as I mentioned at the outset, this is a lifelong learning process. One courses and isn't going to do it, but at least it gets the conversation started. And just like Beth said, her son went down on a path because of this one course. So we have many, many schools that will offer personal finance as an elective, as Kathleen said. But because the kids feel so much pressure for those transcripts and maybe the parents are putting in pressure.

Daniel Hebert:
It's it's crazy right now.

Daniel Hebert:
So so the teachers, you know, really have some challenges. And let's not also forget, not every teacher is trained in personal finance. Economics falls under social studies. Many times that's taught by history teachers with no training in this. So for us, we've begun a process to identify and define essential our effective financial education. And it's got to include teacher training and that piece of it.

Laura Knoy:
Just real quick on the specifics. So again, every school is supposed to offer economics as a graduation requirement. Embedded in that is supposed to be personal finance. Is that a rule from the state board of Education? Is that okay? And when did that come down?

Daniel Hebert:
So that standard was placed in the curriculum frameworks. And just so for the listeners to know the curriculum frameworks, I called the teachers cookbook. So in the frameworks went in in 2006, I was on that revision committee. OK. So that's been around for a while. In economics, I'm older now being revised again. So those frameworks are being revised. So I'm hoping we hold on to the economics requirement. I'm hoping that standard stays in.

Laura Knoy:
Go ahead, Angela.

Angela Castonguay:
So back to the first caller from Hanover. I. One of the things I was thinking is that oftentimes these courses are offered in that senior year timeframe. And in what I like, what Dan keeps referring to is that lifelong learning piece. If we start financial education early, then it becomes a part of their conversation throughout all of their educational journey. When we presented in senior year, it tends to come off as adults are trying to tell you that education, that your dream of wherever it is you want to go is going to cost too much. And you might have to back off on that. Dream it tends to be presented as, oh, you want college X, college X is going to cost this much money because of the life dream career you want. You may not be able to pay this back. Rethink everything that doesn't annihilate, isn't it? Well, and it also comes off as very harsh. If you think about it, that doesn't sound like an education. That sounds like a grown up telling you what to do. Why would you want to have that as your education? Whereas with Dan's speaking of is life long learning about money and consumerism totally different, but that is not how we're presenting it to seniors in high school.

Laura Knoy:
That's really interesting. And it gets to what one of you said earlier. This should start in second grade. I think it was you, Dan. Yeah. What do you want? How much is it gonna cost? Do you need it? How do you pay for it? So. Point well taken. Let's go back to our listeners. And Ted is in Ashland. Hi, Ted. You're on The Exchange. Thanks for calling in today.

Caller:
Okay, so I'm like I have a question about when it's appropriate. It's out overdraft fees in banks because I recently found out the hard way that that thing when the supermarket and basically they get free money actually takes it right out of your account.

Caller:
And I ended up having it be like two hundred dollars for only like getting a hundred. So I knew. But they never taught me that in school.

Laura Knoy:
Was this on your debit card? 10.

Caller:
Yeah. Yeah.

Laura Knoy:
Okay. Very interesting. And raising the point about, you know, why don't we know about this?

Laura Knoy:
Doesn't seem like the banks are necessarily making it crystal clear, Dan Hebert?

Daniel Hebert:
Oh, I wouldn't say that..

Daniel Hebert:
Well, I mean, banks are in the business to do what? Provide, you know, outlet for your savings, provide loans. You know, financial education is important part. And for many of them, it's a it's one that they really focus on. But like in Ted's scenario, they're right. The banks would come banks, banks or creditors come back and say, well, when you opened the account, we gave you all of these disclosures, we told you, you know, that, you know, you would be charged as overdraft fee if you went over, you know, overdrawn your account. Well, gee, guess what? When something is handed to you and a two point font, you know, we're not we aren't gonna read them. Then there's 60 paragraphs all in legal or it it's Yankees language hump and upon us to become that informed consumer. And and, you know, Ted's story is one that I hear all the time. That would be covered. That subject is definitely covered by my rock star teachers who teach this in our state.

Laura Knoy:
What do you think, Angela? In the class that you teach? What's the one thing that most of your students just don't know? Something really basic.

Angela Castonguay:
I would say that they don't understand that a credit card is in essence, a loan. And so what I try to speak to with them is how many of them have parents that are at home stressing right now that you are going to be taking on a fifty five hundred dollars student loan from the government at 5 percent and are like, oh, you know, raising their hands. And then I say, OK, and if you buy gas and then walk into the little grocery store attached to it and get a couple of packs of gum and a drink and you're putting that on a credit card. How many of you realize you're taking a loan possibly at 13 or 15 percent.

Angela Castonguay:
And they're all like, what like that? In no way, shape or form as a correlation for them. But when I can break that down, they're like, wow, why is mom stressing the 5 percent for my education and not thinking about the pack of gum at 13 percent? And so that's one of those basic concepts that a credit card is a loan that they are not getting.

Daniel Hebert:
Oh, my. This this whole subject of credit card and electronic transactions just really make me crazy because this has been my world. So. So the way that I try to describe this to the students is they're both transactional instruments. One's a debit. One's a credit. The credit is a loan. As Angela said, the debit card is tied to a savings or checking account of yours. They operate the same way. Let's confuse the beef stew a little bit more. And when these kids get a gift card at Christmas time and it says on their debit, that's not a debit card, that's a stored value card, it's got a certain dollar amount. But they the company says it's a debit because each transaction is debited from the balance. So this gets very confusing. And I think visually, if we can, as Angeles sort of pointing out, if we can talk about the the compound interest part of a credit card and the debit card risk as well. So whenever I'm with kids, I always say I'm gonna be that guy that's going to advocate you to get a credit card, not a debit card and a credit card.

Laura Knoy:
Okay. All right. Young people are encouraged to get debit card, right? Because then at least you don't rack up the that the loans that you mentioned. Angela, on the other hand, you do rack up fees, as our caller mentioned.

Daniel Hebert:
And but my point is you minimize your risk.

Daniel Hebert:
So if that card gets compromised in an online transaction with a debit card is attached to your savings, that's real cash as opposed to a credit card where you're limited to 50 dollars home anytime, the banks will waive that. So I had a situation where our debit card was compromised. It was in St. Lewis. I never do this, but I did. I took an A.T.M. withdrawal out of a hotel, A.T.M. and suddenly two days later, I get a call from the bank saying, did you buy tickets to Dubai?

Laura Knoy:
Oh, my goodness.

Daniel Hebert:
So I said, well, let me ask my wife first and then.

Daniel Hebert:
But the point is, by the time you get that resolved, two and a half weeks went by and that was a 500 dollar hit. Yeah. So that could impact your automatic payments out of your checking account and so forth and so on. I always advocate a credit card for your online transactions as well.

Laura Knoy:
And this gets to again, our subject today, financial literacy in schools. There's even more you have to think about today in addition to some of the new tools and some of the easier ways it is to be a consumer. You also have to worry a lot about your finances being compromised. So a lot there. Go ahead, Angela. So one of the things that.

Angela Castonguay:
We talk about with credit cards, though, too, is I completely agree that I think a student, especially in college, should have access to a credit card for emergencies and all of that. We talk about the amount of solicitations students get once they turn 18 to open credit cards. And we talk about how there's going to be tabling on college campuses like get a pizza or get your college T-shirt with, you know, and sign up for this credit card.

Angela Castonguay:
And the kids are like, oh, totally wouldn't do it. I get that. That's like there. They get that. Then I said, OK, how many of you, when you're going back to do school shopping, have ever seen a person in front of you in line? And if they get if they open this credit card on this huge pile of school back to school clothes, they get an extra 20 percent off or 24. And they're all very tempting. Wait a minute. I'm like, yeah. It's not just those like randoms on campus. It's you're going to be standing there with 300 dollars for the clothes and you could save 25 percent right there. And then they started to think about and that's how these kids are getting 8 to 10 credit cards before they're graduating college. Not just that one that they're holding response, you know, being responsible with eight to 10 credit card things. The number is actually it's five. Or they graduate. It's five to six, five to six before they graduate college. They will have opened five to six credit card. That's a lot to keep track of.

Daniel Hebert:
So I'm looking at your eyes, Laura. You've got a 19 year old. It's not cheap to go to Cancun on spring break. Right. So some of that is done by this. But, you know, there's been some protections for college students. In 2009, the Credit Card Accountability Act came into play and it said, technically, you you cannot get a credit card until you're 21 unless you can prove that you're independent. You can, you know, 17 year old. Right. Exactly kind of thing. So a lot of lot of kids will it will get it with their parents cosigning. And it's a small limit. And I love that because that student is building a credit record so that when they're 22 and they graduate, they've got some sort of credit that a landlord's gonna check. An employee is going to check and they're on their way to being an adult.

Laura Knoy:
Coming up, more of your questions and comments. Tell us what you wish you learned about financial literacy when you were in schools. What you see happening in schools around New Hampshire today on this issue. And we will follow up with you after a short break. You can send us an e-mail if you'd like, exchange at an HP port org. You can give us a call at 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. Or you can use Facebook at an HP exchange and more on Facebook live today if you want to watch as well as listen. This is The Exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange I'm Laura Knoy, exchange listeners. We're inviting you to join us at one of our coffee and community events this summer. We're gonna be in Littleton this Wednesday at noon as the inkwell, coffee and tea house. So for more information, go to our Web site. Any JPMorgan slash exchange or to our Facebook page? Back to our conversation now about teaching financial literacy in schools. Let's get your take on this topic. What should be taught and what shouldn't? Is this really the school's responsibility? And what do you wish you learned when you were younger about financial literacy? Again, you can send us an e-mail at exchange at nhpr.org or give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. And Dan Hebert, Angela Castonguay right back to our listeners. Clay on Facebook writes, Most schools teach what one needs to know. But adolescent brains don't plan well for the future. Angela, you work with a lot of adolescents. What do you think?

Angela Castonguay:
I would. I would kind of agree.

Angela Castonguay:
I think I don't want to sell 17 and 18 year olds short, though. I think there are more and more. And I've been doing college planning for nine years. Say more and more students may be coming out of the recent economy situation are going and eyes are more open at least and more conscientious about debt. However, I do think that it's hard for them to actually perceive what 22 is going to look like.

Angela Castonguay:
And when you talk about a loan payment or credit card payments or debts of a thousand dollars, they're like, OK, I'll earn that. But they don't have the perception of what rent and other life costs are. Also going to be the car payment that the cell phone. All of that. So a thousand just seems doable without looking at and knowing all of the other expenses. So in their defense, they just don't have the life, the reality of the skills at that point to understand it.

Laura Knoy:
So it's not even that they can't process it. They don't have that experience.

Angela Castonguay:
Correct.

Laura Knoy:
And you can say it, but it's not it's not real. Well, on a similar note, Phillip on Facebook writes, The most useful thing I was taught about money while in school is that it's not a good idea to borrow money for anything unless it's going to save you money. Things like houses and cars that are necessary to work or liver fine recreational opportunities like toys are not worth borrowing money for. Phillips says I agree with the sentiment. Others have already expressed timing of teaching financial lessons is important. Freshmen aren't often ready to hear the message. High school seniors and college freshmen are often receptive as it has relevance in their lives. Do you jump in on this issue too darn of timing?

Daniel Hebert:
You know, I'm sitting here thinking about my earlier statement where I said that kids learn how to manage the money from watching their parents until they become teenagers.

Daniel Hebert:
Then they won't listen to their parents. So, you know, back to the reason why I think, you know, schools are the partner in in this endeavor. It's it. We're still a country of free will. So parents and their children can decide, you know, about borrowing money and about, you know, how much to save and all of this.

Daniel Hebert:
These these basic concepts. In the end, it just goes back to being given the information to make that informed decision and choose what you want. You and I could make could have the exact same information given to us and we'll make a different consumer.

Laura Knoy:
Well, speaking of how people view this differently, and Angela talked earlier about the heart and the head and family values and so forth. Michael writes In so much of this conversation and I suspect the education are laced with the speaker's values. For example, strictly speaking, charitable giving outside of tax breaks aren't necessary for financial well-being. Michael says, also, is there a discussion that takes place regarding values investing? Michael says what guards are in place to make sure the curriculum sticks strictly to the facts. And let's see, injection of values remain with the parents. And in preparation for the show, we did hear from a lot of listeners before the show and another person wrote. What are the responsibility of the schools and what are the responsibilities of parents? Where does one draw the line?

Laura Knoy:
Michael, I really appreciate the point. Angela, you wanna talk about this? He's right. Every family has its different values around money. And you don't want your kid take some financial literacy course where he or she comes home and says something that sounds messed up to you.

Angela Castonguay:
I I don't know how to control that within a classroom, but I can tell you from when we do one on one counseling with parents around funding options for college and things. Well, that is exactly what we try to do is present the facts we say here is the amount of that you are going to borrow. Here is what that payment will look like, 10 years, 15, 20. But we absolutely step back. And like your caller said, we. We watch conversations happen in front of us, whereas parents are like, it's OK. This is debt that's worth it. This is your education. We have worked for this. This is OK. And then we see other parents look at their students and say, no, this is not OK. We want you to make a better choice or a different choice or whatever.

So I agree with him because it's amazing how in presenting the facts, we watch this conversation happen in front of us. That is totally different from family to family. I don't know how we can control that, but I do agree with him that sometimes the person giving the information does have to step back. I may have an opinion, but that is just my opinion for my family. And if this is a debt that that family wants to take on and feels like we want to tackle as a family and we'll pay it back. That is their choice. So I do agree with him that it is value laden. I don't know how to take it out of the curriculum. I wouldn't know how to legislate better.

Daniel Hebert:
I would say it's it's governed by the standards. I would say this. That's the reason that we have educational standards, is to try to create that that cookbook, you know, so that the the facts are presented in a consistent and fair way. And yeah, I mean, how do you avoid someone putting in their own values? I mean, if you're if you're a teacher in Iowa, you're gonna teach things differently. Then that teacher and P.S. 39 in Brooklyn. Because the students need different things and maybe those values are different. But the basic standards and facts are consistent and that's why they're important.

Laura Knoy:
Well, somebody else wrote us before the show to saying schools have an opportunity to teach kids about debt from credit cards and school loans. So there's another listener who feels that schools are a place to put that in. But, Michael, we definitely appreciate your point, because it is a values laden conversation. So thank you, Michael. Abby on Facebook says It's budgeting and cost effective grocery shopping. So many people my age inadvertently waste money on food. Abbi, thank you very much. I think you guys have a tool on Jumpstart, right, Dan, where it's kind of fun. I went through it actually, when you go through and you say, OK. This is the kind of food I want to eat. This is the kind of car I want to drive. This is kind of house I want to live in. Here's what I expect to make. Right. Here's what I need. So just tell us a little bit about.

Daniel Hebert:
Yes. So it's called a reality check. That's reality. It's done from the national organization as well. We link to it and it's essentially asking 10 questions, I think, and their lifestyle questions. So it's things like, you know, you're now 22 years old. You're going to live at home, you're going to rent an apartment, you going to rent an apartment on your own, you're going to have a roommate and you're going to have a car, a new car, a used car. How many times are you gonna have a gym membership? What's your utility bill going to look like? How many times you going to go to the movie? On and on and on. So you get to the end, you hit the reset. There's a button that says, are you ready to hit that button? And it comes back with the hourly wage you need to make to support the lifestyle you've chosen and the jobs associated with that hourly wage.

Now, there's no you know, that's a national average in those in those calculus. Sure. But it gets the conversation started. And I always send this out to parents at Thanksgiving and Christmas when they've got their families together. Is it's a funny. Civilly, but you can also learn as well. And the NI folks are gonna be coming out this this fall with it with a great program, very similar on the middle school level, we talk about the claim, your future kind of a thing and same sort of thing. It's just to get people starting to think, kids starting to think about how the math has to work for you and your life.

Laura Knoy:
And it does seem correct me if I'm wrong, it does seem that young people have more monthly obligations these days because of, you know, smartphones and other items out there that are sort of, you know, a subscription based. It does seem that life is often more expensive for young people.

Daniel Hebert:
Sure. Absolutely. I mean, debt. Never mind that. Yeah. I mean, you know. But even if you're a teenager, it's possible your family says you want this particular smartphone, you're going to pay me, whatever, ten bucks a month or 15 bucks or what have you. So, yeah, you're absolutely right. It's changed like the family life has changed.

Angela Castonguay:
And we do a piece in in the little program that I do at the high school students about their monthly college budget. And being that I live here in the state, I live in Durham. So right next to the university, I always joke about how often you see lines coming out the Dunkin Donuts on Saturday morning. That's not part of the meal plan. You know, that is students seeking out all those extra expenses. And and when I start to say things like how many of you have bought this past Christmas, bought a present for either a good friend, best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, and they're all like, Mike, is that in your budget is buying, you know, the birthday presents and, you know, and they're like, oh, I didn't take that into consideration or I'm not I buy water every day or I buy coffee every day. It's it's really eye opening when you have them start to think about that stuff. So those are really impactful conversations. And and now, like you said, relevant to their lives. And I think, Laura, that was a really good point.

Angela Castonguay:
It's when it becomes relevant.

Laura Knoy:
Let's take another call. This is Judy and Penny Cook. Hi, Judy. You're on The Exchange. Thanks for calling in today. Go ahead.

Caller:
Hi. Yes. My son graduated from Bow high school in 2003. And at that time, I don't know about now. But at that time they had a course called life skill and it was mandatory for them to take it to graduate from high school.

Caller:
The phys ed component was part of that class. I don't remember how many years if I'm a semester they had to take the class. But one of the things that really struck me was when he was a junior and was taking notes in the classroom, they started doing a whole segment on income tax and how to file that easy for. He looked around, nobody in the room had ever filed taxes before. He had worked at a farm, so he had been working a couple of days a week since he was about 13. So he had filed taxes for a couple of years. But he knew his friends didn't have a job. But by the same token, it didn't strike him that. Oh, he never filed taxes. They don't know. So there were all these those kinds of skills that were in this life skills course today.

Laura Knoy:
That's great. Yeah. Thank you for letting us know. Dan, that's one of the districts you mentioned, Bow.

Daniel Hebert:
Yeah. And I'm happy to tell you that they really up their gains since since 2003, because now they require a stand alone personal finance course for graduation in that district, not just included in other subject matters and life skills.

Laura Knoy:
And why do you think there's so much attention to this issue of financial literacy? Just recently on Capitol Hill, Senator Hasson was behind an effort last year to increase funding for financial literacy programs. This year, more state legislatures, from what I understand, are considering this as a requirement. Why now? Angela?

Angela Castonguay:
Well, I think with such emphasis being put on student debt and and students leaving high school, going right into debt when they're starting their college process, we can't just say at the end, hey, we have all this debt, how do we stop it? You have to look at where does the education start? And I feel like, you know, that is a smart way to look at it. We don't want to just deal with the problem at the end. We're looking at how can we educate students earlier on so that they're making good decisions and eyes wide open. Again, kind of going back to that very first segment when they're making these life decisions. And it doesn't it's not a problem that we should solve just at the end. It's a problem that we want to be preventative about.

Laura Knoy:
So when we talk about financial literacy in schools and Dan tells us that there is this graduation requirement, you seem to be saying and I think, Dan, you said earlier, too, that's not enough to saying, hey, we have one graduation requirement. You're saying, let's keep talking about this.

Angela Castonguay:
Lifelong learning.

Angela Castonguay:
I love Dan's comment. I think that's such a huge piece of it.

Laura Knoy:
Well, here's one that I think I throw to you, Dan. Alex in Concord writes, I work in banking specializing credit. I've often time at times talked about teaching a class on personal finance, but I don't know where to start. Any suggestions?

Daniel Hebert:
Call me.

Daniel Hebert:
Reach us out at nhjumpstart.org and I'll point you in the right direction.

Laura Knoy:
And so you guys are a group of volunteers, a lot from the personal finance industry or banking and so forth. And you basically go into schools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and do these sort of presentations all day, day and or an hour here.

Daniel Hebert:
An hour there. Yeah. So because we're a volunteer organization, we're limited by capacity and resource. How will they go? Right. So are you. Miller Right.

Daniel Hebert:
So, so far, I can save program. It's actually a partnership with the New Hampshire Banking Department. They go in and do those presentations on the content that we provide. You know, we also do a high school competition that we're in charge of Finland, 300 tons of fun for high school students. And then we you know, we do a teacher conference every year because we but we've always felt from day one the fastest way to reach kids is to train teachers.

Laura Knoy:
Well, and we are doing a show as part of our series Training Teachers, I think is an August 12th. So, no, I'm not going to talk a little bit more about that. So both of you. Daniel, first, what does the future look like in terms of financial literacy or what do you wish it looked like, say, five years from now?

Daniel Hebert:
Yeah. The wish is I wish we could go back and not be quite so fast in our life. But in terms of where we are today, I think cryptocurrency keeps me up at night because he cares. What will that mean for, you know, that are a fintech? FinTech industry is exploding. Right. And so, you know,.

Laura Knoy:
FinTech means financial technology.

Daniel Hebert:
Exactly so. So all of the mobile apps that we have. I mean, that all falls under that that tech world. So, for instance, there was a parent in Washington the other day that told me that he pays his babysitter through their Venmo app. So, I mean, everybody's using Venmo in terms of that peer to peer transfer of information. Secondly, I worry about artificial intelligence a little bit. So, for instance, your son is going to walk through a store bought by a store in Boston and see this snowboard, let's say. And he says, okay, Siri, you know, can I buy it? We'll series. Going to say, you're going to look at the budget app, going to look at your bank balance, say, yes, you can. Now he has to say, OK, but should I? And that's something that artificial intelligence is not going to be able to tell him. So, again, it's back to this informed decision. Now, when it comes to cryptocurrency, there's a bill in the New Hampshire statehouse to allow the state to accept bitcoin as as payment that's in play. JP Morgan Chase is is releasing their coin. Facebook, though, there, they're releasing their liberal coin. I couldn't even begin to tell either of you how this works. I can't understand your financial literacy guy. This is your creator. Yeah. But I do know that kids are buying these crypto currencies. And what do I at least say to them is because there's information on the New Hampshire banking site as well. What I say to them is it's unregulated. It's uninsured. So be prepared to lose it all.

Daniel Hebert:
If you want to, it's up to you so you can go down to the anchor gambling place and do the same thing. It's, you know, however you manage your money.

Laura Knoy:
Angela, what's the most important message about this that you want to leave our listeners with today about financial literacy education?

Angela Castonguay:
I would say to not be afraid to speak to your kids about money. Kind of that point that Dan was making. I actually, weirdly, was a sex educator in New Jersey for years.

Angela Castonguay:
So it is harder sometimes for families to talk about money and not being afraid and knowing that your kids can handle it and and taking on that that job at home, I think would be a great start. All right.

Laura Knoy:
It's really good to talk to both of you. We could've talked a lot more, Angela. Thank you. It's nice to see you. You're welcome. Angela casting Gay College Council with the Neath Network Organizations. That's the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation. Angela also teaches a financial literacy course at a private high school in Portsmouth. Dan Hebert. Great to see you. Thank you for being here. Thank you. Dan Hebrew to state president of the New Hampshire Jumpstart Coalition. As he told us, that's a nonprofit that works on personal financial education throughout New Hampshire through a corps volunteers. And you can find links to both our guests work on our Web site. It's an age PR dot org slash exchange. The Exchange in-depth series continues next week again. Every Monday, we will focus on a different aspect of education if one learn more about the series. Once again, the Web site exchange. Well, you can set up an email exchange at HP board, but check it out on the Web site. It's nhpr.org slashed exchange. Thanks for listening. This is The Exchange on an HP.

The views expressed in this program are those of the individuals and not those of an HP are its board of trustees or its underwriters. If you missed part of today's program, listen to The Exchange. Any time at an HP morgue or subscribe to our podcast, search Apple podcasts, Google Play or stitcher for an HP bar exchange.