The Eight Best Recommendations for How to Teach Financial Literacy

Seeking recommendations for how to teach financial literacy? The information you’ll find here will be an excellent resource. These tools and guidelines indicate best practices for individuals and organizations alike to meet their financial education goals.

Teach Financial Literacy: Support and Guidelines

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1. Six Suggestions Regarding How to Teach Financial Literacy

Want to learn how to teach financial literacy and build a longstanding program that really makes a difference? Read on to discover how another interested party accomplished that goal.

Ida McDougal was the Financial Aid Administrator at Lakeside Community College. She had a strong desire to help the student financial aid recipients at her school manage their money, but she didn’t know how to teach financial literacy. These students all came from low-income situations but were diverse in other demographics. What kind of education would reach them best? Ida gathered information by conducting informal interviews with a few of the students. She discovered that they found sticking with a budget and living within their modest means to be most challenging. Ida worked with her staff to arrange a half-day workshop on campus for students receiving financial aid.

Format of How To Teach Financial Literacy Expertise

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2. Matching Needs With Outcomes Next Step in How to Teach Financial Literacy

Ida’s first purpose was to give the financial aid recipients some tools for creating a workable budget. Because she had ample time to work with in the half-day format, she decided to include some instruction on savings and earning income as well. Her overarching goal was to help students manage their money while in school, but also begin planning for their post-graduation futures. She aimed to get students to Level 3 on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge scale, where they could plan, reason, and think strategically about money.

3. Next Phase to Teach Financial Literacy: Options for Delivery

Now that Ida had figured out her initial goals and future vision, her next step was to choose how the materials would be delivered to students. Because they needed budgeting experience, she thought it would be best to give them some practical tools both in person and online. Ida also wanted to combine asynchronous pacing with self-paced lessons they could complete on their own schedule.

Accepted How To Teach Financial Literacy Methods

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4. What Topics to Present for Best Results?

Ms. McDougal next had to decide upon a few appropriate topics to present when teaching financial literacy to the students. Knowing how to teach financial literacy requires knowing one’s audience and choosing subjects that meet their needs. Because the students she wanted to reach were financial aid recipients, Ida decided she could best meet her goal of helping them live within their means by focusing on budgeting, career planning, and personal finance planning.

5. Preparing for How to Teach Financial Literacy

At the next phase, Ida needed either to locate a qualified educator, or get training to become qualified herself. The instructor she chose needed both strong content knowledge and skills to teach a wide range of audiences. Because Ida had a background in financial topics but no teaching experience, she decided to undertake the NFEC’s Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) financial literacy certification program and earn the credibility to teach the workshop.

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6. Appropriate Resources for Teaching Financial Literacy

Some of the qualities Ida sought in a financial literacy curriculum package were practical lessons designed to help students take real-world action; and alignment with personal finance and educational standards. She wanted something that would address the students’ need for budgeting assistance. Ida achieved her goal by choosing curriculum with practical, action-based lessons and that met educational benchmarks.

7. Measuring Outcomes is a Vital Step

On the day of the workshop, 48 students attended; they showed a mean improvement of 30% between pre- and post-tests designed to measure their knowledge and skill levels around budgeting and account management. Ida prepared a report using these data and presented it at the next Financial Aid administrative meeting, to prove the program’s effect so it could expand.

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8. Support and Reinforce Knowledge with Key Follow-up

Ida was sure that, although successful, one workshop was not enough. The students would need their new-found knowledge to be supported and reinforced, so they could put the tools into practical action. Ida handed out plaques to all those who completed the first workshop, and then scheduled quarterly fact sheet reminders for students to receive in the mail.


Those that possess a desire to teach financial literacy will find the tips provided on this page will help rewarding and you are providing a great service to the community.  We will be adding videos and other material to this page over the course of this year, so check back regularly.

For those visiting this webpage, you likely understand a trained and knowledgeable professional is more effective when teaching financial literacy. You’ve likely developed that providing people a practical financial literacy education can help them avoid the monetary problems people commonly face.


The NFEC’s educational philosophy

The NFEC’s professional development program to teaching personal finance effectively teaches six essential topics.  This includes:

  • Student Experience
  • Measurement
  • Curriculum Training
  • Subject Knowledge
  • Bridging Practical Application with Education Standards
  • Financial Psychology


Financial Literacy Is Unique to Teach

Financial literacy is a unique subject.  Each of your participants has had a different background; every person sitting in the class has formed a unique relationship with money.  Each unique relationship equates to a specific emotional connection, and determines the impact of money on that person’s life.

Whether you are teaching financial literacy to teens, kids or adults – the goal is the same: help them adopt positive financial behaviors.

Once you start out on your own, every second of every day, either you are making money or you’re losing money.  For example, you might be accruing rent that you must pay; or you might be incurring interest on an investment.  Your finances are always either up or down—they’re never stable.  So financial literacy has an impact on every day of your participants’ lives.Bring this home to participants by describing the benefits of financial education.  Health, relationships, security, independence—explain all those benefits we discussed in the previous sections.  Money has an impact both on their current situations and on their futures.  Demonstrate how financial literacy can improve every aspect of their lives.


Financial literacy curriculum development and results

The NFEC financial literacy lesson plans were created in partnership with educators, financial experts, and community leaders.  Over 50,000 people were interviewed by our Board through one-on-one discussions about their current financial situations.  They’ve also reviewed more than 25,000 personal financial statements through the course of their daily business – loan brokers, financial advisors, etc.  Our advisory board combines expertise from the entire scope of financial topics including debt consolidation, bankruptcy, mortgages, investment advice, realty, banking, and credit consultation.  We consulted with educators knowledgeable in advanced learning and influence techniques.

The resulting programs contain practical, real-world financial lessons.  While we were concerned to ensure that curricula met core educational standards, our key focus was on relating to the audience.  We strove to build lessons people really can use for maximum benefit in the real world.

These programs are meant to be fun and engaging not only for the students, but for instructors as well.  You will enjoy teaching money management lessons to these materials, and keeping it fun for your participants should be one of your goals.


Why are financial education programs ineffective?

For your initiative to succeed, it’s helpful to understand where other programs fail.  Most financial education is dry and boring.  Programs get boring when they focus on theory-based teaching that lacks practical application.  If people can’t see a direct benefit to them, they’ll quickly lose interest.

Poor-quality curriculum also becomes boring fast.  If the materials are outdated and incorrect, or are not written by expert professionals, the quality suffers and participant interest will wane.  Too little time spent teaching the lessons is another common mistake; you won’t learn skills to improve your life from a single-hour presentation.

Some programs fail because the presenter forms no connection with the audience.  The NFEC can recommend ways for instructors to build such connections, and the materials are designed to connect with people too.

Many programs fail to measure their effectiveness.  If you don’t know whether your program works, how can you convince others to adopt it?  The bottom line is moving people to take action, and that’s the biggest difference between the NFEC program and other available coursework.

We appreciate your interest in learning how to teach financial literacy and helping people across the country pickup important money management skills that can help them avoid the stress that comes with financial uncertainty.