‘We don’t get taught personal finance’: Local students push for more education on money matters

MILTON, Mass. — Managing money has never been more complicated and confusing.

This is especially true for young people who are dealing with student loan agreements and easy access to credit cards.

Several high school students from Milton Academy want to help their peers get a better understanding of how finances work.

They’ve created a free app called “StockSense”.

Co-founder Hugo Eechaute said it “teaches the youth financial literacy, students aged 15-21, to make you understand personal finance better for long-term wealth management.”

First, users go through a series of easy-to-understand tutorials.

Then they build their own stock portfolios and compete against one another.

“It becomes a game that not only is enjoyable, because you know what you’re doing, and the returns are probably better than if you don’t know what you’re doing,” said Eechaute.

Another StockSense co-founder, Isabella Alba, believes the stakes are high when it comes to their generation’s financial future.

“Even if you’re not the next top investor, it impacts your life,” added Alba. “When you pay your bills, you’re dealing with finances. When you go to a restaurant and you’re trying to figure out a tip, you’re dealing with finances.”

Eechaute added, “Students our age, we don’t get taught personal finance enough, especially here in Massachusetts.”

Despite having what’s considered the best public education system in the country, Massachusetts is one of just nine states that doesn’t require high school students to take courses in either economics or personal finance.

That’s according to the Council for Economic Education.

State Representative Ryan Hamilton, a Democrat who represents Haverhill and Methuen, said “as someone who is relatively young and has gone through the public schools pretty recently, you’re asked to make really tough and really long-term financial decisions as an 18-year-old.”

That’s why he is co-sponsoring a bill that will require a financial literacy class in the state’s public high schools.

He says teenagers today need financial skills, particularly since many of the decisions they make involve tens of thousands of dollars.

“If you don’t make the right decision, or more importantly, you make the wrong decision, it would have a long-term effect on what you do financially in your life for 20-30-40 years.”

A national survey by Intuit found that 85% of high school students nationally say they’re interested in learning about financial topics.

95% who take these kinds of classes believe they’re helpful.

Eechaute says the feedback on the app is positive. “We have about 10,000 students right now who are users.”

Alba advises students to start early when it comes to thinking about their financial freedom.

“If you have that financial freedom and you know what to do, and you’re a step ahead of everyone else, that’s going to set you up for success.”

Representative Hamilton says a financial literacy class would last for half of the school year.

It would include current tops, like crypto and the gig economy, that this generation will likely face.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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