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Holmen requires students to develop personal finance skills

HOLMEN, Wis. - Navigating the world of finances can be a challenge.

Some people feel students graduating from high school are not prepared for all the financial pressures that come with becoming an adult.

That's why one area high school is making a change to its graduation requirements to make sure every student is ready for life after graduation.

Holmen High School has offered a personal finance class for years, but this is the first year it's a requirement to graduate.

While learning about credit scores, managing your debt and balancing a budget may not sound like interesting topics to a high-schooler many are catching on that learning financial skills now could save them a lot of trouble -- and money -- down the road.


Holmen teacher Amy McCutchen teaches personal finance with one eye on her students and one eye on their future.

"We talk about credit. Debt. Financial planning for their future. Budgeting. Banking. Major purchases they're going to make in their life. Insurance and identity theft," said McCutchen. "I just hope they walk away with some background knowledge."

Even though they're just a few weeks into school, students say they're thankful the class is now required.

"I probably wouldn't have taken it if it wasn't required, because I didn't think it is as important as it is," said Holmen junior Matt Cerjka.

"People are kind of surprised about all of the information they didn't know before," said Holmen junior Jordan Mason.

"We talk a lot about wants and needs," said McCutchen.

"We went over wants. Buying something little every day could be like hundreds of dollars at the end of the year," said Cerjka.

"They get credit cards and think they get free money -- and swipe, and it's gone," said Mason.

It's a mindset McCutchen hopes to change now so her students can be successful later.

"We're hoping to nip that in the bud as soon as they graduate and have those skills that they need," said McCutchen.

As part of the class, students also use a computer simulation where they practice budgeting and making major purchases.

McCutchen said she wants students to have room to make mistakes now, in class, before heading into the real world.

Altra Federal Credit Union is a resource for Holmen's personal finance class.

Altra employees make guest presentations in class and help them practice budgeting and making big purchases.

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