Understanding personal finances is key to making important decisions in adulthood. From applying for financial aid to buying a home, young Hoosiers need to know how to be responsible stewards of their financial futures. Through the Indiana MoneyWise Financial Education Program, high school students throughout the state can take free online courses focused on banking, credit scores, consumer protection, higher education expenses, insurance and taxes, investing, payment types, renting versus owning and savings plans.

First launched as a pilot program, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson recently expanded the financial literacy program statewide at no cost to taxpayers or schools. This program helps teenagers learn basic financial skills, including how to balance a checkbook, set up a budget, pay for higher education, invest, set long-term goals, build credit, manage credit cards, responsibly rent and pay utilities.

The curriculum takes about six to eight hours to complete, and lessons are web-based and align with state and national financial education standards. Courses are recommended for grade levels nine through 12. Those interested in bringing financial education to their schools should call 847-804-8943 or email mmoore@everfi.com.

As a teenager, not understanding basic financial concepts can result in a lifetime of bad credit and stress. In fact, some adults may not grasp all of these concepts, which results in parents not talking about these issues out of embarrassment or lack of understanding.

According to Lawson, 41 percent of U.S. adults, or more than 92 million people living in America, gave themselves a grade of C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finances, leaving substantial room for improvement. And, a majority of Hoosiers have little to no knowledge about potential fraud schemes, making them susceptible to being scammed out of their hard-earned money.  

The Indiana MoneyWise program also offers many resources to adults as they work to better understand their finances. Interactive learning tools and resources to teach Hoosiers the skills needed to be financially fit and a wise investor can be found at www.in.gov/sos/indianamoneywise

The financial decisions we make each day greatly impact our lives, so let’s work to become more educated on how to manage our money. It’s never too early or too late to improve your financial literacy.

Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.