Michael on September 26th, 2008
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I’m still shaking my head at this one.  In the September issue of Money Magazine, Lauren Willis argues Why you can’t teach money.

You: Who’s Lauren Willis? I never heard of her.

I hadn’t either. She’s a law professor at Loyola Law School in LA.  In the article, she maintains, among other things:

Sellers of financial products spend billions drowning out well-meaning messages to consumers from nonprofits or government agencies.

Now that can be true, but is it a reason to completely give up on financial education?  There’s plenty of people who are, unfortunately, still racist. Does that mean we should stop teaching people that the mindset is misguided?

Also, financial products are always changing – credit and insurance products have changed dramatically in the past 20 years – making it hard for educators to keep up.

Oh! I see: it’s too hard, so let’s no try.

It’s not like sex education. As far as I know, people get pregnant the same way they did when I was in high school.

I’m pretty sure that people get pregnant the same way too, but teenage pregnancy is way down. Might sex education have something to do with that?

I could go on, but I won’t.  Okay, I will.  Here’s the letter I wrote to Money Magazine that you’re unlikely to see published (but if you do, this is why it looks familiar):

Ms. Willis 1) opposes financial education by anyone other than parents, 2) thinks do-it-yourselfers are a bunch of overconfident poor decision-makers, and 3) doesn’t trust financial planners to teach ethically.  That’s a lot of strong opinions for someone outside of financial services.

While no industry is perfect, several fantastic financial educational initiatives that make an impact exist (along with several that do not).  Most do-it-yourselfers are far better off making their own educated decisions as opposed to doing so without any training, being forced into the safest choice (as determined by a bureaucrat), or yes, even via blind trust of a unethical salesperson. But, as MONEY has told us, there are plenty of fantastic fee-only financial planners out there if you know the questions to ask.

I’m glad you don’t agree with Ms. Willis’ thesis.  Otherwise, the September issue would probably have been MONEY’s last. I’m quite confident I’m not the only one who learns something from every issue.

Well you’re here reading this, a financial education blog, so my guess is that you either totally agree with me or you’re related to Ms. Willis. Do tell.

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2 Comments to “No good financial education?”

  1. Fiamma says:

    I read that article too and was absolutely flabbergasted. Hello, knowledge is power. People like her scare me

  2. Michael says:

    Right there with you, Fiamma!

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