A majority of Americans agree with him. The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) conducted a survey in August 2019, where they asked 1,211 people: “Do you think high school students should take personal finance courses in high school?” More than 81% responded that financial literacy curriculum should be mandatory.
In Murset’s home state of Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey signed Bill 1184, which would require high school economics classes to dedicate a portion of their course to personal finance management. Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee says Bill 1184 “could cover anything from how to balance their checkbooks to the consequences of acquiring debt.”
Murset has identified two gaps with the bill. One, financial education should start much earlier than the high school level. By the time a student reaches high school, he argues, they’ve already established spending habits and a relationship with money — good, bad or indifferent.
The second gap lies in identifying how younger generations interact with their environment. Money management needs to be taught in a way that reflects how the real world operates: with online transactions and digital currency. “We’re teaching the next generation about invisible money. It’s not about balancing a checkbook, it’s about numbers on a screen,” Murset tells Parentology.
Enter the BusyKid app. Developed by Murset, BusyKid is marketed as a “chore” app aimed at helping children develop a solid financial routine using three main pillars: Give, Save and Spend.
Parents use the app to set chores that need to be completed. Once a child finishes, a predetermined allowance is direct-deposited to their account. Each week, a percentage of their earnings are placed into savings, with another percentage assigned to charitable donations. There’s even a section for investing a portion of their earnings in actual stocks. The app is free to download, easy to use and encourages wise money decisions and good budgeting habits.
“As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), I recognized two common elements with my own clients, who were all mainly business owners: One, they were all hard workers. Two, they were smart with their money,” Murset says of one of the reasons he created BusyKid.
“That lit a fire in me: How do I get those results with my kids? How do I get them to be functioning members of society and, more importantly, out of my house?”
Jokes aside, the struggle to manage finances in adulthood is very real. According to Credit Karma, 41% of American adults surveyed say they had to teach themselves about personal finance. Most of us haven’t used algebra in a while, but we pay bills online nearly every day.
This gap in thinking frustrates people like Murset. “The world has changed and we need to follow in a digital way,” he says. “Today, It’s about numbers on a screen and how we can translate that in a kid’s brain.”
Murset adds, “They have to figure that out and almost never do at school. Those schools that do teach financial literacy teach very rudimentary skills, basics that turn out to be too little, too late in the game by the time they reach high school.”
Often, it falls on the parents to teach their children about good money habits. “School doesn’t hand out money to kids, parents do,” Murset emphasizes. “The parent has to be the money source and the source of knowledge.” He says that the BusyKid app is a great digital tool that makes these types of lessons less overwhelming for parents.
“You don’t have to be a CFP or mutual fund analyst if you use the right system in a uniform, balanced way,” Murset says. “I’m not a big believer of gamifying everything; we’re not assigning fake chores or giving kids Monopoly-style money. Money motivates — we don’t need to incentivize the incentive.”
Once kids get into the practice of everyday banking, there’s an opportunity for parents to have bigger conversations about money matters. “Start early,” Murset encourages. “It’s something they’re going to use every day, so why not make them proficient at it? Pay bills online with your kids. Show them the bill and how you pay through online banking.”
Saving, sharing and spending are real-world applications. By teaching those fundamentals, you’re preparing your children to become responsible citizens who can avoid the pitfalls of money mismanagement.
“You don’t have to be a human ATM anymore,” Murset says. “You no longer have to be the gatekeeper to your kids’ financial transactions. The best ecosystem to do that is in your home. Give them things to do. Get them unglued from Instagram and have them do stuff, make money and then make choices. Invest in stocks? What a great opportunity. Give to a charity? Amazing.”
Murset says teaching kids to save can happen as early as age five (the app is aimed at children aged 5-17 years old) and encourages adults to teach kids to save early and often.
“One of the best things a parent can do is respond to ‘I want that’ with ‘OK, well if you want it you can buy it and use your own money,’” says Murset. “Statistically, that will give most kids pause before making a purchase. So if the toy breaks or gets lost, they think ‘Man, I had to scoop poop for two weeks to get that.’ They feel that loss and most likely will try to do better next time.”
Regardless of how Bill 1184 is implemented into the current curriculum, it seems the American education system could certainly take a chapter from the Murset household. “My oldest son left the house with $10,000 in his account. My second, who’s 20, has $20,000 saved so far,” he says. “I have three kids in college. All of them have $0 in student debt, and I’m certainly not paying the whole thing for them. They saved up early for that.”