Boredwalk – 2% math proficiency❓

I AM THE FIRST to admit that I’m no star when it comes to math. I was so enthralled with calculus in college that I took it twice. To make matters worse, math keeps changing. Just ask a 10-year-old to show you how to multiply. I am not alone.

At the high school from which I graduated in 1961, the current math proficiency rate is 2% The national average is 46%. The lowest ranked state is at 22%. With those numbers, is there any hope for financial literacy?

The lack of basic math skills is not new. Some years ago, before I retired, I was working on budgets with some employees. I was shocked when they couldn’t calculate percentages. If you don’t know that 10 is 10% of 100, how well are you going to do with rates of return, let alone compounding? While shopping, a person—who shall remain nameless—frequently asks me if a $10 coupon on a $25 purchase is better than 30% off the same amount.

Could this state of affairs have anything to do with why so many people mismanage their money, including spending too much and saving too little? I think so—and I think it’s going to get worse. Which brings me to Monopoly.

Monopoly is a strategy game that involves buying, investing, selling and keeping track of money. There’s a banker who oversees transactions. After you purchased all the lots on a block, you can buy houses and then a hotel. The rent charged soars with the number of buildings owned. The game can go on for hours, sometimes days. Making the wrong moves can result in bankruptcy, not unlike in the real world. Along the way, there are subtle lessons to be learned about simple math, the value of money, risk-taking, strategy and negotiating.

As fellow HumbleDollar contributor Adam Grossman noted a few weeks ago, Monopoly can be a great way to teach kids about money.

Unless, that is, you’re playing the newfangled, high-tech version of Monopoly. No math, buying and selling, or money-handling skills are required. They have even done away with the banker, the money, the houses and the hotels. Just roll the dice. No thinking required.

The cards and the titles to properties have bar codes. You simply scan the cards and the scanner does all the math, calculates the rent due, tells you what to do and, presumably, will even tell you if you’re bankrupt. You can’t figure out your financial state on your own, because you can’t see if you’re out of the nonexistent money.

I recently played this high-tech version with my grandchildren. They think it’s cool. I think it’s boring. The only skill required is correctly placing a card on the scanner. It took me a few times to get that right and then only with the assistance of an eight-year-old.

Hey, I’m all for technology, I use my phone to check out groceries as I pick them off the supermarket shelf and I use my Google Nest Hub to find recipes. I even check my heart rate via my phone. Which, incidentally, did not increase while I was playing Monopoly.

Source: Boredwalk – HumbleDollar


  1. If a device will do the long division for you, why learn to do it without the device? It’s pointless effort. No wonder kids don’t like learning it. I loved math as a student in high school, but I didn’t like the boring parts. We should teach the interesting parts — e.g., the axiomatic method.

    My web surfing experience was considerably improved when I found out that Google search would calculate the value of math expressions if I just ask to search the expression. No more fumbling for my calculator.


    1. I can answer that question for you. You must know the basics so that you correctly enter the numbers into a device and to know when that the answer is wrong. For example, solve 8-2×3 using the basic STANDARD calculator on your Window base computer. Then solve the same problem on any normal hand held calculator the same way. You can also change your Window calculator to the SCIENTIFIC mode and it will calculated correctly. (Phone apps vary, so be careful). You should be able to look at problem and know that the answer cannot be 18 but it should be 2. If you know the basic order of operation you can clearly see that the problem should be solved as 8-(2×3)=2. You might also need to know this if you have to work with spreadsheets or do any computer coding.

      I took a business math class in college, six years after my last high school class. This was in 1984. I was a 24 yr-old with a bunch of 18-19 yr-olds fresh out of high school. The first test we were not allowed to use calculators. 1/3 of the class failed. The next 3 we were allowed to use calculators. Still 1/3 the of the class failed. They had no ideal why or what they were entering into their calculators.

      I had gotten four 100s during the course. My professor wanted to know if I was going to ace the final. I told him that I needed an 80 or above for the course to count for my associates degree and I already have that without the final so why should I take it? He was heart broken, but I could do basic math.

      I showed up for the final and got a 100.


      1. The evaluation of 8-2×3 depends on an arbitrary convention. Both – and x are binary operations, so there is no one right answer. The usual convention is that multiplication has precedence. It’s like “I want jam or butter and bread.”


  2. Boy, RD – you are behind the times. With Covid I just order on line and drive to the store and a worker brings the order out to my car. My 40 year old daughter, just orders food, on line, and has it delivered. As long as she spends $35, she pays no delivery fees. I see a time in the future where there will be no cashiers, just self checkout, scan & go or even no one allowed in the store, you just pull up and they bring it out. I like that service, because I saw the handwriting on the wall, years ago, that with all the self checkout registers, cashiers will be gone soon. At least the stores now have to hire workers to pull stuff, but in the future they may be able to use robots.

    With computers in every phone, very few need math skills for anything. In the new world order you will not own anything, you will get digital FED dollars to pay for stuff and the top 1% will be in control of it all. The brave new world of sheeple just doing what they are told, going along to get along, and living in their own government controlled bubble. Living, working, and shopping in the same 10 square blocks, without ever going anywhere. Saving resources, smallest carbon footprint ever, saving the planet for future generations. What a boring life awaits the sheeple, I am glad I will be taking that dirt nap before the global elites, put their relocation, redistribution plan into full operation. It will be great if none of it happens, but I think the coming years will be a total disaster, with the average American’s standard of living decreasing by about 25 to 50 percent, because of debt, lower wages, higher prices, and government wall street, and central bankesters, mismanagement of the world economy.


    1. I believe you vision is going to be proven very correct. I too pray that I am taking a dirt nap sooner than later. This pandemic and election has shown me that the lemmings are more than willing to give up personal rights and freedoms just so somebody else will tell them what to do. For the past two decades people have been willing to let social media track their movements, online choices, and their lives. Nobody thinks for themselves anymore. Cashiers are lost if the register doesn’t tell them what to do. Cashiers lack such basic math skills that they can’t even recognize that they might have entered a bad price when the total comes to $1,000 for $10 lunch order. Now that we are almost a cashless society as a result of the pandemic, I think financial literacy will be a thing of the past. “But my phone said I had money in my account.”

      My only hope is that every generation since the beginning of time has said the same thing and were proven wrong. But I can parallel so many of today’s world events to matching the rise of the dictators of the early 1900’s. This makes me worried for my grandchildren.


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