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Personal Finance Hero: High School Student Zachary Taylor

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Every few years I come across a story of seemingly ordinary people doing something extraordinary. For example, I loved Abigail Martin's $500 Dream Wedding.

I was at a pizza parlor when I saw an article in a local (Newport, Rhode Island) newspaper caught my eye. At the very bottom of the page was the title, "Education bill introduced on behalf of PHS student Zachary Taylor." That was it, just a title and a page number. As a parent of a 2 and 3 year old, I'm extremely interested in anything with the word "education" in it.

I had minimal expectations for the article. Page 5 of the free local newspaper is where you get life advice from from Cleo the Cat. (That's not a joke. It is a real thing, but unfortunately Cleo's column was cancelled in 2013.)

Imagine my surprise when I turned to page 5 and found news that might change Rhode Island forever.

Zachary Taylor (with the help of his representative Daniel P. Reilly) introduced a bill that would require Rhode Island high school students to complete a course on financial literacy before graduating.

To me, this is just common sense, but as we covered yesterday, one of the reasons Why We Fail With Money is because most Americans are financially illiterate.

In fact, Rep. Reilly was quoted in the article:

"This is common sense legislation, which prepares students for the real world, such as a balancing a checkbook, securing a mortgage, and purchasing a vehicle."

Beggars can't be choosers, so I'll take any and every attempt of financial literacy education that I can get. I don't want to criticize a sound bite too much, but at age 40, I've never balanced a checkbook. I would rather see education focus on compound interest. At a young age I was inspired to save when I learned that my money could make more money by doing nothing.

Again, I shouldn't criticize, but I'm an idealist. I think we should focus on financial education before high school.

If done well, it can be included in elementary school. More than 30 years ago, I learned the basics of running a business (such as supply and demand) by playing a Lemonade Stand computer game.

I don't know if this legislation will pass, but I'm optimistic. The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) joined in to testify before the State House for the bill.

Zachary Taylor, I salute you... Bravo Zulu.

Posted on May 25, 2016.

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