Many people are quick to say they don’t teach us anything about money in school. It’s true some teachers are not comfortable teaching financial literacy and personal finance is rarely a graduation requirement. But one of the most important money skills is taught in schools across the country. And that skill is numeracy.
Numeracy is the ability to understand and work with numbers. This includes the ability to calculate and interpret numbers using your math skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication, percentages, discounts etc.).
Last spring, I went to a track meet and it cost me $3 for my daughter to attend. I gave the young lady at the ticket box $5. She smiled and gave me two physical bills in return. She gave me a $5 bill and a $1 bill to be exact.
I immediately noticed the error and decided NOT to cash in on the mistake. I made it a teachable moment. I told her I gave her a $5 bill and it costs $3 to get in. She agreed. Then, I asked her why she gave me $6 back?
She recognized the error and exchanged the $5 for $1. And she expressed her gratitude to me for bringing it to her attention. After our discussion, she appeared to be much more careful counting change.
That wasn’t the first time someone gave me the wrong change. And it won’t be the last. Everyone makes mistakes.
I’ve even had a bank teller count my cash deposit incorrectly. You can read about that story here.
Those math skills really do come in handy. Without them you could find yourself shortchanged, cheated and robbed right before your eyes. On the flip side, using them can help you make better financial decisions (spot great deals, investments and avoid ripoffs).
So it may be worth it to brush up on your math. Or to take out the calculator every now and then to make sure those numbers make sense.
For more on how numeracy could impact your wealth, check out CNBC’s article “Being bad with numbers could cost you financially.”
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