• Life Lessons

This is a post that really has absolutely nothing to do with photography…. but I’ve been thinking about this for A WHILE. Really every since I got married!! The more I learn and experience in my “adult” life the more I realize just how STRONGLY I feel about this subject!! Since getting marred and starting a business and living in the “real world”… I have realized that there was actually VERY LITTLE that I learned in High School and even college about the BASIC life realities. Now don’t get me wrong, I was SO BLESSED growing up with

awesome parents that modeled a great example for marriage, finances and money management.  I learned a TON from them! My mom gave me a credit card when I was 16. You’re going to think that’s crazy but it was actually genius. She gave it to me and I knew she checked the balance. She taught me to only spend what I had… even though I had a $7,000 limit! To a 16 year old, that sounds AMAZING!!! But Momma explained that if I spent more than I had in my checking account and couldn’t pay the full bill off at the end of the month, that would result in me having to spend even MORE money in the end…. and that was stupid. So! Because she warned me of this and I knew she was watching, I was responsible. Gradually she became less and less involved and halfway through college, she took her name off of that account and I was on my own. I’m actually a little sentimental thinking about it right now because that simple act of parenting on my parent’s part taught me more about finances than anything else. Michael and I are debt free (besides the mortgage of course). I have had a credit card since I was 16 and I have NEVER not paid the balance off…. which means I have an great credit score…. and this isn’t because I’m awesome…. it’s because my parents did an awesome job teaching me EARLY about debt, interest and how to live within my means. I owe them big time for that. To some, giving a credit card to a teenager is crazy… but in our case, it was one of the BEST financial lessons I learned from my parents.

So, let me continue about the heart of this post. I needed to share about my childhood credit card experience to show that my parents really did teach me basic life lessons that I needed to know. However, there are some areas of life that I feel like I should have learned about in HIGH SCHOOL to prepare me for general aspects of LIFE. I learned about derivatives and the periodic table (that I have NEVER used)… but I didn’t learn about how to do my own TAXES?! I never once was taught about MORTGAGES or INTEREST?! …. Or how to apply for a loan? Or how health insurance works? Or how to invest and save for retirement?! I graduated high school AND college without knowing what a 401K or a mutual fund were.  Sure, if I was a business major, I would have known some of this…. but I was a communications major and I really think this stuff is universal knowledge that EVERYONE should know! Here is a full list of life lessons that I think should be a standard part of education before entering the real world:

– Why invest life insurance and how to do it.

– How to buy and sell a new or used car.

– How to write a will and when to do it.

– Define and explain income tax, personal property tax, sales tax, federal taxes, state taxes, estimated taxes, etc.

– How to apply for a business license.

– Define and explain the difference between a foreclosure and a short sale and really explain equity!

– How to do your own taxes.

– What is required to purchase a home? What is the “underwriting” process?

– How do you apply for a mortgage? What is Mortgage insurance? How much should a down payment be? What’s a good interest rate?

– How to balance a checking account.

– What to look for when buying a house (mold, water damage, mildew).

And the list goes on and on. I know that some of this stuff is over high schooler’s heads…. but for kids that leave high school and enter the workforce with no higher education, high school would be the only time to learn this stuff! It’s IMPORTANT stuff. Michael and I have learned about all of this as we went along…. which is how most people do it. So I guess it’s normal to not totally understand all of the mortgage and tax lingo…. but if I’m being honest, I wish I had been more knowledgable about all of this before I was LIVING it. I think knowledge about debt and interest would save SO many young couples from financial disaster early on in their marriages. We love Dave Ramsey’s radio show because it’s so interesting to us to hear everyone’s different stories. People call in with $40,000 in debt on their credit cards…. just from careless spending over the course of a few years! It’s wild!!

So what’s the point of this post? Well, I’m not really sure! I guess I just wanted to share my thoughts and frustrations about the whole topic…. and maybe there’s a parent of a teenager out there that still has a chance to prep their kid for some of these real-world realities!! Imagine what our economy would look like if everyone was knowledgeable about these things?! It’s just a crazy thought. So am I the only one who thinks about this stuff? Am I the only one who hasn’t used calculus since the 10th grade?! I sure hope not:)

So now that I’ve won the “Most Random Blog Post” award for the week, I hope you’re having a fabulous Thursday!! Enjoy your day everyone!!!

Photo cred: Jasmine Star (Love our wedding ring shot:)

xoxo, Katelyn
40 Comments Personal
  1. Leah Otten reply

    Amen sister!

  2. Karin @ heart. Love. Weddings. reply

    Great post and observations Katelyn! It’s a crazy world out there especially when comes to teaching our children. Teachers are being forced to teach for a test without common sense or creativity. These life lessons are so important. I used to teach a junior achievement class to seniors. In high school as the last class of the day. They couldn’t wait to beat feet at 2:15. But the one class that my husband cane yo talk about taxes they were riveted and had tons of questions. Life lessons should be a new required class in high school and college. Would go a long way in the education of our society. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiration.

  3. ashley link reply

    i totally agree and have said this before! there is actually a reality class at john tyler that helps with the ins and outs of housing, but other than that, how do people expect us to learn these things? as sad as this is, i still don’t really know how to write a check haha. i’ve never needed one before, but they should definitely teach that in high school too!

  4. Jade reply

    I completely agree! I was just thinking about this as I am about to get married and we are buying a house and like you my parents did a great job but I wish that we were taught more about these topics!

  5. Katie reply

    Lol there are people I know who didn’t know how to do laundry after leaving home…or how to write checks or how the postal service works!! I think these things would make great electives in hs but it’s also up to parents to teach kids a lot of this stuff…that being said I don’t think my parents taught me about mortgages haha but they did give my sister and I Suze Orman’s “Young, Fabulous, and Broke” which was a really awesome book!

  6. Michael and Carina reply

    Thanks SO much for sharing this.
    I come from an extremely poor background and with little to no financial training for the “real world” from my parents.
    When I moved to Europe, however, a very loving uncle (and pastor) introduced me to Dave Ramsay and the principles of frugal living without the accumulation of debt.
    They’ve so far help me realize a dream of living debt-free. It isn’t always easy, and it often means going without, but the peace of mind is priceless and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
    Thanks again,


  7. Lauren reply

    I agree with all this and more! But I’m thankful for parents that home educated me, and along the way taught me many valuable things not in the textbook. :)

  8. Stephanie reply

    Oh my goodness I couldn’t agree more! I feel so lost so often – especially with taxes! ugh. I plan on homeschooling my kids and teaching them these kinds of things, because really, this is the stuff we need to survive in life!

  9. Anna K. reply

    Katelyn I think about this ALL of the time!!! I once volunteered at a nursing home and an elderly lady told me all about her college experience and how she learned to manage a home, budget, grocery list, and all the important life things!!! I get that times have changed but I sure do with I could have taken that course!

  10. Rachel Pierson reply

    That’s easy, silly! Most of us attended public schools and those are ran by the government. THEY only care about standardized test scores. “Life” issues need to be addressed by parents/groups/churches/etc … people that actually care about our well being. Sad, but true.
    Your post is spot on!! There is a need!!

  11. Tori reply

    I agree100% and have this thought All the time!!

  12. Lanie Kay reply

    No, you’re not the only one that thinks about this! How to buy a Car should be on the list too! We just bought one and the process is so overwhelming… I wish I had learned more about it years ago. And we are house hunting… and that process is even scarier… So, thank you for helping me prepare a list of things that I need to make sure my son learns when he gets older.

  13. Erin reply

    Oh my! I could not agree more — and I’m pretty sure you and my husband would be best friends! I can’t tell you how many time’s he’s says these exact things… almost word for word! Definitely sharing this on my page and sharing with my husband. You’ll probably get 10,000 extra brownie points from him ;-)

  14. Sharon reply

    love this!!! I’m excited that chase and I will be doing everything we can to pay for Ava’s schooling – because walking away from college with 100k debt is down right depressing – I tell anyone and everyone who had a helping hand with college payments how absolutely blessed they are!!! I don’t want Ava to have debt like that!! man it’s been over 6 years since I finished school and I finally got that chunk down past 60k!! whew. – it’s a second mortgage!

  15. ashley barnett reply

    Ahhh it’s SO funny you are writing this! Jeremy and I are trying to buy our first home and it is UNBELIEVABLY frustrating the hoops we have to jump through and the road blocks we are facing since we own two small businesses. I 100% wish I had had someone to tell me these things and to help us navigate this scary mortgage world as small business owners.

  16. Ann Beale reply

    Great post. Very wise!

  17. Robin Day reply

    No on expects you to understand taxes and file them yourselves! That is what we are here for. CPAs that is. There are very valuable tax planning strategies to avoid some of the very things you mentioned. Professional tax services are very important for the small business owner.

  18. Sydni Jackson reply

    In college my mom gave me the book “your money counts” which is a class taught at many churches. It’s basically dave ramsey without the emphasis on cash, and much more emphasis on biblical principles rather than getting yourself ahead in life. My parents also talked to me about money management. EVERYONE needs to learn these things before living on their own!!

  19. Amanda reply

    Luckily for me, my 6th grade math teacher got frustrated her college age son couldn’t balance his checking account and halted math class for a week to teach us how to do so – complete with receipts and little checkbooks. But other than that I’m just like you! My parents gave me a credit card in high school and it taught me financial responsibility but past that, all the other “real life” stuff I’ve had to learn on the go. Thank goodness for Google!! I understand History is important, but if you’re not interested in becoming a historian you should be allowed to sub in a “Life Lessons” Gen Ed your freshman or sophomore year of college!

  20. Kathleen reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I never learned any of this stuff either. My sister is now a junior in high school in Chesterfield and they now have a personal finance class all students have to take their junior year. But I don’t know if she’s even learning this! I think it’s more like writing checks and investing in stocks. THIS is the stuff that needs to be taught!

  21. Alicia Daw reply

    I think the point of this post needs to be that you have just introduced a new series on your blog ;) Seriously, it blows my mind how few American adults know about this kind of stuff, and how blindly they spend.

  22. Alison reply

    AH! I totally agree! We are going through our first house dilemma (drain leak due to corroded pipes), and we are just now using our home warranty/home insurance for the first time. We didn’t know who to call first, if we could file a claim or not with the insurance (does it hurt us to do that?), etc. AHHH, adulthood!

  23. tiffany farley reply

    What?! And you’re not going to answer all of those for me?? :) I agree… I am leaving your blog feeling less smart, which is not your track record katelyn!

  24. Jennifer Ferguson reply

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this whole post! You’re so blessed to have had a mom who taught you the importance of only spending what you have. Mine did not teach me any real life skills and when you combine that with my own lack of responsibility in my early 20s and you have a big problem. My high school was no help whatsoever. I see a real need for a change in the curriculum and i hope to see it by the time my son is in high school but I plan to teach him these things on my own (as I learn them).

  25. Allie reply

    Love this! I’m a senior in high school (homeschooled) and my parents have been amazing at teaching me all this “real life” stuff. I have a credit card and have been filing taxes for a few years and I’m so blessed to have been taught by them. Loved this post :)

  26. Laura reply

    this was such a great post! I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said here, and I have often wondered the same thing! I think it’s awesome you blogged about this, because you have a powerful voice with LOTS of readers and maybe that will make a difference. It really is crazy that people just go off into adulthood without even understanding how credit card interest works! I hope that the school systems change in the future to include this VALUABLE knowledge that everyone needs to know!

  27. Hope reply

    AHH! I love this post!! I’m 17 myself and as a business owner, I had NO idea what I was doing! This post is sooooo true and I couldn’t have said it better myeslf.

  28. Veronica reply

    I thought I was the only one who felt this way! I believe life skills should be part of the core curriculum starting as young as 5th grade that teaches all of these concepts and get more difficult as they get older. I do remember having a life skills class but it was focused on body and emotional changes or how to put a condom on a banana and carry an “egg Baby” (which really didn’t prepare me to be a mom)

  29. Rebekah Carter reply

    I so agree w/ your points here! I never learned most of this stuff either until i was experiencing it. I didn’t get a credit card in high school but like you parents mine also taught me to pay it all off before it was even due so when I got my first credit card in college that is exactly what I did & continue to do to this day.

  30. laura beth stricker reply

    Thank you for this post!

  31. Meredith Sledge reply

    OH MY GOSH. THANK YOU!! Hahahaha. All that stuff you listed is beyond me because my high school taught me nothing. Haha. Seriously, I would have actually enjoyed learning about things I knew I’d have to use. I would have paid better attention. haha!

  32. Kristen reply

    Katelyn….you may want to add how to pay off your mortgage early too…we just did…YAY!! but more to it than just sending in your check. (like everything else in life!) :)
    completely debt free is fabulous!!

  33. Frank reply

    I suspect there are a lot of people reading this blog that are not commenting due to the fact they were not fortunate enough to have been taught the way you were growing up. Everyone needs to listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show. The voice of regret from people all over the world can be heard. But the good news is that so much encouragement and hope for those that are struggling can be found there as well. Dave’s teaching is based on biblical principals and common sense. Anyone that is interested can catch him on I heart Radio 24/7. This “voice of regret” wishes he had never owned a credit card. I am glad they are gone from my life!!!!

  34. Lydia reply

    Being homeschooled and watching my parents do their taxes every year, build a house debt free, run a business, etc. taught me so much about real life because I was a part of the experience, not just an observer! Oh, I know there are still so many things I’m learning and will need to know in the future, but my mom also taught me to love learning and how to find information when I need it. So handy when it came to learning photography! Loved this post, Katelyn, because it’s a good reminder to pass on important real life lessons to our kids and not just focus on being about to compute quadratic equations!

  35. Katie reply

    Katelyn, I actually learned how to do most of those things in high school. I went to a public high school too! I was taught those valuable life lessons in a mandatory family and consumer science class, and then when I decided to become a family and consumer science teacher in college, I learned all of those tasks you mentioned. Sadly most schools are cutting their fcs programs so kids aren’t learning those valuable life long skills.

  36. Claire M reply

    This is such a valid post. I am in my 6th year of university and the first year of my business and it SCARES me how people my age [23] act with money/credit. I wholeheartedly agree that my financial savvy came from my mum but I honestly wish is was a part of school curriculum! ‘If you don’t have it, don’t buy it’ And for my business that is KEY. I work hard and buy each lens + flash as I go, but taxes still scare me!haha

  37. Shelley Hohe reply

    I totally agree with what you shared…I learned everything you listed after high school and college myself. After being married for 16 years and being in our 40’s, my husband and I have gone through and learned form all this plus some. Some good experiences and some not so good. That is a huge reason we homeschool our teenage twins…we feel we can teach them all this before they go out on their own. I had my first checking account (in my moms name) when I was 12 and that taught and helped me so much to prepare me when I was older :) I wish more parents would do this with their kids!!

  38. Brittany Davis reply

    I’m totally with you! I was one of those high school students with horrible spending habits. My parents bought pretty much whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it, so i did the same. They didn’t live within their means and neither did i. Then the economy crashed and my dad lost his business and i was completely on my own to learn all of this stuff on my own through some really tough trial and error. My kids will not be raised the same way. it would really be helpful for these things to be taught in school. it would make for a much stronger economy in this country if it were made up of informed consumers. Thanks for this post. And I agree that Dave Ramsey rocks!

  39. Elizabeth reply

    I agree Katelyn!!!! Great post. I wish I had known all of this prior to graduating, and I still don’t understand everything! Universitys should have a whole course track dedicated to teaching students about this. Sometimes it feels like getting a college education without learning that stuff is like getting putting in a row boat with no oars…and…I DID major in business!

  40. Jaimie reply

    Hi Katelyn, I’m so glad you wrote this down. I feel the same way and wonder why it isn’t in place in high schools. Like what happened to home eq. class?! How to cook, how to mend a tear in your shirt or pants, how to make a garden grow, how to create a budget, why we should use a budget, what to save for in your 20s… etc. I’m 26 years of age and i WISH my parents had really sat down and taught and guided me through those lessons and helped me practice them in my own life. Leading by example is great, but like what your mom did with you and the credit card, there has to be some one-on-one teaching that goes on or the opportunity is missed and there’s a chance we’ll have to learn the hard way later – like in my case, im 26 and i still live at home because i was making money and spent it on hobbies when i got out of college instead of paying off loans and SAVING for things that are here now (possible wedding, moving, buying a home). Cheers!

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