The vast majority of Americans believe that financial literacy is an important-enough skill that it should be taught in schools alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.

That’s according to a recent survey from RBC Wealth Management-U.S. and City National Bank. The survey, conducted last month, found:

  • Americans overwhelmingly (87 percent) believe that smart money habits should be taught in schools.
  • Of those in favor of incorporating financial literacy into the classroom, 15 percent said instruction should begin as early as elementary.
  • The rest (72 percent) said financial literacy should be taught in middle and high school.

Earlier this month, City National Bank received a Financial Education Award for its financial literacy program, Dollars + Sense, which is part of the bank’s broader commitment to low- and moderate-income communities. The award recognizes City National’s significant efforts to improve the financial capability of Americans through unique digital learning initiatives. 

“Dollars + Sense is a way to do our part to ensure the future success of tomorrow's leaders,” said Samantha Davies, senior marketing manager at City National. “Financial education fosters financial stability for individuals, families and entire communities.”

RBC Wealth Management-U.S. has long supported financial literacy through various grants and sponsorships and time volunteered by employees. The firm is a founding member of The Stock Market Game™, created in 1991 to increase student’s financial literacy, emphasize the importance of investing and help young people gain a better understanding of the U.S. economic system.

Based in Minneapolis, RBC Wealth Management-U.S. is also a longtime supporter of Twin Cities-based BestPrep, which helps administer the Stock Market Game in Minnesota and operates several other financial literacy programs.

Good information about investing and money management has not always been readily available, either at school or at home, the survey results show. But they also point to a generational shift:

  • More than one-third of American adults (35 percent) said they received no instruction on investing – whether from their parents, teachers or someone else.
  • Another 39 percent said they simply taught themselves how to manage their finances.
  • But only 29 percent of Millennials (ages 18 to 34) reported the same experience.

In fact, 29 percent of Millennials said they learned about investing from their parents and 22 percent said they learned in school. That’s a vastly different experience than that of Baby Boomers, only 10 percent of whom said they received such instruction at home and 9 percent of whom said they learned about investing in the classroom.

The results suggest that not only are families today more open about finances, but also that financial literacy programs are working. 

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