Financial literacy students celebrate 10th anniversary of program at Zions
By Lauren Evans
MANTI—This year is the 10th anniversary of the state requirement that students take a financial literacy course in order to graduate from high school, and state data suggest the course has had a positive impact.
Manti High School students in Devin Shakespear’s financial literacy class marked the occasion on Tuesday, Nov. 20 with birthday cake and a serving of financial wisdom delivered by David Warren, branch manager of the Zions Bank Manti Branch and a member of the South Sanpete School Board.
An October 2018 report from the Utah State Auditor showed high school graduates took a financial literacy course have better financial knowledge and make smarter financial choices than graduates who never took such a course, generally people who graduated before the course was required
Utahns who graduated high school after 2008, when financial education became a requirement, also fared better on the personal finance survey than peers in neighboring states.
“As a nation, we often talk about the state of Americans’ finances in terms of negative news and the many ways people are falling short,” Warren said. “It’s a pleasure to recognize these students and the progress we are making in Utah by celebrating this 10-year milestone in financial literacy.”
Each year, more than 40,000 Utah students take the class and learn skills they will use as adults. The half-credit financial literacy course, designed for junior and seniors, covers topics such as saving, spending, budgeting and investment strategies.
In general, Americans struggle to save. Fifty-five percent of Utahns and 57 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account, according to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey.
But U.S. teens exhibit some promising financial behaviors. A 2017 TD Ameritrade report found that more than half of teens (56 percent) have started saving money and more than 40 percent of teens (43 percent) follow a budget.
According to Zions Bank, parents can reinforce money lessons at home by taking these simple steps:
First, look over your child’s paystub and help them understand taxes, withholding and gross pay verses take-home pay. If your teen isn’t currently employed, find ways for them to take part in family budgeting and financial decisions.
Second, encourage your teen to open a bank account and set aside savings each month.
Finally, parents should model healthy financial behavior. Studies show that kids tend to mimic their parents’ spending and savings habits, for better or for worse.