Here’s an example of how we help people make their financial education dreams become real.
Nancy was a retired elementary school teacher who wanted to offer a financial literacy 101 program, but she didn’t have any experience teaching financial topics.
She knew she wanted to teach high school age early adults at an average socioeconomic level. They probably had a rudimentary understanding of financial literacy and Nancy’s intention was to bring them to a basic level where they could make sound decisions on their own. She talked to the local high school officials, and found that there was a strong need for her to follow thru with this initial idea. This was going to take more than just throwing together a financial literacy 101 pdf.
Nancy now faced the question of how best to deliver the material to these 15 – 18-year-olds on summer vacation. She decided to give them a break from the classroom structure and present a weekly live webinar with a closed Facebook group to be active throughout the week. It would be based on a 6-week timeline and the webinar would be recorded. This would keep the students accountable while allowing them freedom and the opportunity for self-discipline.
To best reach young adults, Nancy wanted a program that met core educational curriculum standards and offered practical lessons that the students could relate to. Since this was possibly their first real-world introduction into personal finance, she wanted the curriculum to encourage them to apply the theory into their daily lives.
Young people go to college for the purpose of building a knowledge base that will lead to lucrative, fulfilling careers after they graduate. So why do so many college graduates leave school with a zero savings account balance and saddled with a huge student debt load? The answer is because their institute of higher education didn’t offer a financial literacy 101 class. Too many of our nation’s youth never obtained a financial education, where they might have learned the practical skills that lead to good money habits in adulthood.
Most adolescents learn money skills directly from their parents, even though few parents directly teach their kids these lessons. Rather, kids watch what how their parents handle important money decisions, and probably copy their habits. That means they are likely to repeat their parents’ mistakes in addition to their successes. And since personal finance taught in high school is frequently limited to lessons on how to balance a checkbook, youth simply don’t learn these skills. A financial literacy project is needed to promote personal finance training at the college level.
Colleges and universities will benefit greatly from giving their students financial literacy tests and guidance. Implementing a program to build these skills among the student body not only helps the students, but can be leveraged to achieve a variety of institutional goals. For example, a financial literacy program can increase student enrollment and retention, generate goodwill in the community, and become a fundraising tool.
The National Financial Educators Council has come up with the following definition of financial literacy: “Possessing the skills and knowledge on financial matters to confidently take effective action that best fulfills an individual’s personal, family and global community goals.” From the college student point of view, it’s easy to see how financial literacy might contribute to the accomplishment of goals at all these levels post-graduation.