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In matters of money, honesty is always the best policy.

Occasionally I just shake my head and wonder what goes through the minds of some people when it comes to money. A banking error is not a legitimate windfall. I recently read that a Pennsylvania bank made a significant mistake by depositing $120,000 into a couple’s account at the end of May.

Naturally the bank attempted to correct the error and requested the money be returned. Unfortunately, by June 19 the couple had purchased an SUV, two four-wheelers and a racecar. They’re currently facing criminal charges.

At about the same time, I read of a couple from near Bay City that won $500,000 in the lottery back in 2016. They said the money would be used to buy a home and a vehicle, and to establish a college fund for their child.

Something must have gone terribly wrong because that very couple was recently arrested for burglary and are suspects in multiple burglaries across five counties. These are both examples of what can go wrong when people are dishonest and have no financial savvy.

When money changes hands, mistakes can be made. Perhaps a cashier gives you back a bit more change than you are due. Should you put it in your pocket or correct the cashier? Even though it may be a small error, it’s still an error.

On the other side of the coin, what would you do if $100,000 suddenly appeared in your bank account? Do you go on a shopping spree or do you notify the bank? The point is that honesty is honesty. It isn’t measured by the amount of the money.

In life, honesty and money management are both critically important. Honesty is a trait that cannot be taught in a classroom. It begins with upbringing. It’s on the shoulders of parents to set the example and lead the way. I believe the reason the current college scandal is so devastating is because the participants clearly crossed the line even though they were successful, apparently honest in their everyday lives, knowledgeable about money management and knew right from wrong.

When a household is well to do, clearly fiscally aware, and apparently honest, you would think that the word “responsible” would also be a part of the equation. But paying someone for an undeserved and unearned benefit clearly shows a lack of responsibility.

I especially shake my head in disappointment and bewilderment at those parents in the center of the college admission scandal. They surely knew better, but simply chose the wrong path.

Honesty might not be taught in our classrooms, but financial education should be taught in both the home and at school. I’m a huge proponent of mandatory financial education in our schools. If young people had a basic understanding of finance the student loan mess we’re in today probably wouldn’t be nearly as messy.

People need to understand what it really means to use the plastic card in their wallet. It’s a loan, a promise to repay, not a gift. It doesn’t matter if you win the lottery, accumulate a sizable nest egg through hard work or inherit a sizable sum. Financial education is beneficial in every one of these instances.

No matter how the money gets into your pocketbook you should handle it responsibly, with honesty and integrity.