PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Not many high school grads can say they have the basics covered, like balancing a checkbook or saving for retirement.
Some Arizona state lawmakers are proposing making a personal finance class mandatory for all high schoolers before they graduate, to make sure they're ready for the "real world."
"I think through Girl Scouts I have an advantage in that field,” said high school freshman Ella Hammer.
At 14 years old, Ella already has some practice managing money.
"We do a lot of cookie sales,” she said.
But she knows she still has a lot to learn about her own personal finances.
“There's investment and things like that I haven't covered yet that I’d like to,” said Ella.
Too often students can leave high school, become adults, and never learn those skills.
"I graduated from school. I had no idea how to balance a budget, a checkbook, really anything. And I got myself in a lot of trouble, bounced a lot of checks, got in credit card debt, got in trouble with title loans,” said Holly Donahue, now a successful businesswoman, who admits her young adulthood started off in financial chaos.
To help give students the knowledge they need, there's a new bill working its way through the state Senate.
It would require all high schoolers to take a one-semester financial education class before they graduate. It would teach things like budgeting, saving and investing.
Sen. Sylvia Allen sponsored the bill on behalf of state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, who supports the idea.
“So we need to make sure that our kids are learning these very critical basic skills while they're in their high schools,” said Yee.
That bill still has a long way before becoming law. If it passes, the treasurer says the course would be a part of the already mandatory high school economics class. She adds there is free course material online teachers can use.