HARRISON COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - According to the national foundation for credit counseling, only 17% of all U.S. adults say they have never had any debt, while more than half (54%) struggle to minimize their debt.
Changing those stats begins with how we educate young people- which is exactly what one classroom is trying to do.
Managing money isn't the first thing on student's minds at Notre Dame high school, but since taking a personal finance course they've changed their tune.
"I realize now, oh my gosh I've gotta care about this, this is something I have to do," said student Ethan Mehr
Michelle Riggs, who teaches the personal finance class at Notre Dame, says most students come in with little to know knowledge about managing their money.
"Most of them had never had a checking account, didn't know how to write a check, didn't know about savings, didn't know about FAFSA, didn't know about student loans,"
But throughout the class, students cover all those topics, and more. Students are also required to make their own budget.
"Even eating out, I have my students do a budget and one of the things we found out really quickly is that's where their money went to," Riggs said
To help students understand the consequences of credit card spending, Riggs encourages them to start with something small.
"Start with a gas card, we encourage them to start with a gas card because you're only going to buy so much gas and you can pay that off,"
The goal is to encourage students to save now, so they're prepared for later.
"It's hard to start saving money at this age, but once you start start at this age you'll stick with it for life," said student John Kolodziej
In the three years since they started offering the course, Riggs says she's seen success.
"They're really ahead of the curve by the time they leave here, at least they have an idea of what to expect in the real world," Riggs said
And as the students prepare to leave high school halls behind, they say they're ready.
"I came into this class not ready for freshman year of college, still really am not, but I have a much better understanding of what I need to do in adult life," senior Kolodziej said