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Financial Literacy Is South Florida’s Next Big Challenge

Americans, and Floridians more specifically, can lay claim to some of the best education in the world, but certain life skills don’t necessarily follow. It’s little surprise, then, that South Florida school districts recently signaled their intention to make financial literacy a compulsory credit for high school grads.

Teaching key financial lessons to young people – and, indeed adults – will be crucial to improving the region’s financial health, and certain aspects will be critical.

Creating credit responsibility

Observant news viewers will be well aware of Miami-Dade’s less than exemplary consumer credit record. Southern counties, in general, lead the state in terms of total credit card debt, and this is arguably the first lesson that those with poor financial skills need to learn. Educators must be aware of common credit card myths and teach students how to use them responsibly. Credit cards are unique in that few other credit products are treated so casually, when in fact they should be, and this has to be repeated to students.

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Learning to budget

Budgeting is without question the cornerstone of a balanced financial slate. There is simply no other way to keep track of your money without knowing exactly what’s coming in and out. Not having a budget is one of the key reasons businesses fail, and it’s the same for families. They can enable a person to plan for big things and be well aware of when they need to scrimp and save. Plus, when a family is living near the breadline, as nearly 100,000 South Florida households do, a budget will indeed keep a family afloat. Applying the same principle to when you are flush will help your money to go further.

Financial literacy really is for everyone

Learning how to become ‘good with money’ is not the hallmark of aspiring people or families. The practice is so valued that St. Augustine’s Flagler College is teaching homeless people financial literacy as part of their outreach course and as an added lesson to their students. If every citizen of the state can become more aware and controlled with their money, quality of life will improve and the entire state stands to benefit.

Money isn’t scary, but being too relaxed with it has led to a debt problem in South Florida. Increasingly, educators are getting behind financial literacy, and members of the public should take this to heart. Getting control of spending and learning to manage cash properly will lead to a better life for all.