How to Make Teaching Personal Finance in Schools More Effective

How to Make Teaching Personal Finance in Schools More Effective

Of the many subjects taught in school, personal finance classes are noticeably absent.

If kids were taught how to avoid debt and how to start saving for retirement from a young age, it would minimize the chance that later on in their lives they would experience financial hardship.

Though teaching personal finance would help improve money management skills, here’s what’s really needed:

While writing Rich As A King, Susan Polgar pointed out that what is actually missing in school is education geared towards strengthening strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is the basis of problem solving, and if students aren’t equipped with the skills to develop strategic thinking habits, they will not be able to formulate personal finance goals for their future.

Susan advocates teaching strategic thinking by following these three tactics:

  1. Look where you are going from the very start

In chess, one of the first things a player studies is how to play endgames. Once equipped with that knowledge, he can play the beginning of the game with a clear vision of how to reach his goal.  The same applies to personal finance. Before someone tries to earn, invest, or save money, it is very important to figure out what he is actually going to do with his money once he has it. Realistic goal-setting is the foundation of financial success.

  1. Pace yourself

Once a child is old enough to understand the concept of time, Susan introduces chess timers to the game. The chess clock shows the child that he has to think in a planned, systematic fashion, and can’t wait for the last moment to make his move.

Similarly, in personal finance, having monthly savings is an example of pacing yourself to reach your savings goal.


  1. Look at the whole picture

In chess, it is crucial to look at the whole board, and not just focus on one little section, just like in personal finance. The long-term picture is what is important; don’t get influenced by short-term volatility.

Teaching children these three important strategic thinking tactics can help them become better thinkers, planners, and potentially successful, rather than teaching a simplistic personal finance course.

What else should you teach your children? Listen now to this podcast, “Three important things all parents should teach their kids” to make sure your kids are on the right track.


Douglas Goldstein, co-author of Rich As A King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You A Grandmaster of Investing, is an avid chess fan, international investment advisor and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®).