By: Shmuel Shayowitz

Once in an interview at a prestigious business school, a panel of admission professors began interviewing prospective students for entry to the school. One of the weaker students entered the room and sat nervously on a chair in front of them. His grades were beneath the school’s requirements, and he had no other redeeming attributes on his application. It was obvious to all panel members that he would not be granted admission.

To poke a little fun, one of the members said to the boy, “We can either ask you 10 easy questions or one challenging question.” The boy thought for a while and then asked for more time to contemplate the matter. Several long minutes later, he replied, “I would like to answer just one difficult question.” Intrigued by the challenge, the professors gathered in a huddle and came up with their question. The senior professor asked, “what comes first, day or night?”

Without hesitation, the boy responded, “It’s indisputably day, sir, and I can prove it.” Fascinated by his response, the professor rushed to ask, “how do you know that to be for certain?” The boy responded, “I am sorry, professor, but I was assured that there would only be one question, and I responded to it.”

The boy was approved for admission. 

Well, it’s that time of year again, and school is back in session! These days, I’m not sure who has more anxiety about the start of school, parents or children. Jokes aside, schools have a huge challenge, and many are doing their best, but I firmly believe the education system is failing our children. Wait, before you start writing your letters to the editor about my declaration – for the purpose of this article, I am specifically talking about the subject of “financial literacy” that is falling short.

I speak with many young adults and couples, especially regarding the topic of money management and personal finance. Most are ill-prepared for the real world and don’t properly understand the basics of assets, liabilities, credit, debts, loans, banking and money. Many are taught that they need an education so they can get a job, so they can pay their bills, so they can save up for retirement, so that they can live happily ever after. How often does that actually work out as planned?

Beyond the education system, this warped logic also plagues people of all ages. Because they have been conditioned to heed the advice of educators, as they are no longer in school, they turn to the news, social media, online searches and acquaintances for their schooling on a myriad of topics. Unfortunately, everyone has “an agenda,” and more often than not, you’re not getting the real understanding that you seek from them.

Whether their motive is to sell you a product, a service, a solution—or simply to convince you that they are knowledgeable on the topic you seek guidance on, it’s mostly a biased opinion. While I often try to weave in a great lesson about real estate or mortgage financing at this point in the article, I will do without it this time. My advice to everyone out there is to become a student again. Educate yourself on the necessary topics you need to learn that truly improve the quality of your life and your financial well-being. Good luck to everyone with their schooling!

Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Approved Funding is a mortgage company offering competitive interest rates as well as specialty niche programs on all types of Residential and Commercial properties. Shmuel has over 20 years of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. He can be reached via email at Shmuel@approvedfunding.com.

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