It’s National Financial Literacy Month – Got Money Skills?

April is National Financial Literacy Month in the United States. Should you have a money party? Or maybe take a tour of a local Federal Reserve or bank? Really – exactly what are you supposed to do for financial literacy month?

What is financial literacy?

Before we break out the cake and punch, we should figure out what exactly financial literacy is. Simply put, financial literacy is a basic understanding of personal finance and how it applies to the money decisions an individual or a family needs to make. It can include basic budgeting, saving and spending knowledge and skills. It also covers having a basic understanding of credit cards, consumer loans and mortgages. And, let’s not forget the ability to balance a checkbook.

Unfortunately, surveys and studies indicate that the financial literacy of the average American is between 50% and 60% based on their ability to correctly answer basic financial questions. If this were a real test, those grades would be close to failing. And the scores have not changed much over the past several years that the surveys have been conducted.

Why is financial literacy important?

Financial literacy helps people make solid financial decisions in their personal life. It helps limit the mistakes that people can make with their money. What kind of mistakes? Mistakes that can run the spectrum from having an overdraft on their checking account (or 4 or 5) to paying extreme interest rates on credit cards to buying a house that they cannot afford.

Sure not every mistake is a big one. And some mistakes are lessons in the making. But without a basic system of teaching people about personal finance, financial literacy is likely to remain an issue.

But it’s just an adult thing right?

Not so fast. Teenagers are one of the groups (if not THE group) with the highest disposable income – even if they are not the ones actually earning it. In 2006, teens spent nearly $190 billion. Over half of it was spent on food, apparel, personal care items and entertainment.

Yet, their financial literacy scores are on par with the adult Americans in the survey – meaning that they are no wiser about basic personal finance than many of their parents.

Why is this important?

Teens are going to be making really big financial decisions in just a few short years. These decisions include choosing a college and how to finance their education as well as living on their own for the first time. And while Mom and Dad may be footing the bill for a good chunk of certain things, there are still many new temptations.

What if teens entering college do not fully understand how long that $30,000 per year student loan is going to cost them and how much? What if they do not know the fees and interest structure of that credit card they just got to buy pizza and gas with?

Getting started on the right financial foot with a few basic pieces of knowledge can make a huge difference in the lives of today’s teen when they become tomorrow’s college graduates and enter the workforce. That is what Financial Literacy Month is focused on: making sure that everyone gets the money education they need.

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Elements of a Relevent Financial Literacy Curriculum

Relevant financial literacy curriculum has the capacity to equip our youth to overcome the lack of financial management that has become the unfortunate norm in our society. Most graduates are living paycheck to paycheck because they never received a proper financial education. If this is not fixed it will lead to a lifetime of financial difficulties.

Classroom instruction should mirror real life. When you are preparing financial literacy curriculum one of the first things you should consider for each lesson plan is how it applies to real life circumstances.Young people want to learn when they know it will make a difference in their lives. You know you are heading the right way if your examples are applicable to real life.

This is definitely one class that you should never hear, “where are we going to use this in real life.” Make the lesson plans tangible and mentally attainable in order to get things though to reach the student. The more your students can identify to a situation the more likely you are to reach them at a basic and practical level.

How to you choose practical, educational and fun financial literacy curriculum?

1) Start reaching your students by inspiring them to be their own inspiration. Ask them to write down their dream job, regardless of current financial circumstances, that they would like to go to college for. Help them start learning now that limited financial means does not always mean that you can’t get to where you want to go in life. You might just have to get creative. By allowing their interests to drive instruction you are providing them with relevant lessons in financial literacy.

2) Today’s financial literacy curriculum must incorporate personal financial responsibility and decision making. It is essential students are taught how to plan ahead and deal offensively with the tough money situations that face most people at one time or another.

A car that breaks down, unexpected job loss and other costly things have put many in debt. A financial literacy curriculum that prepares students for life’s money situations will help them reach their financial goals quicker.

Being able to plan ahead means that nothing needs to crossed off the list right away. There is a lot of potential in planning for that possible outcome. It takes away the need to live hand to mouth because you are showing them through real life financial literacy curriculum that they are quite empowered to get where they want to go. 3) Be absolutely sure you choose financial literacy curriculum that today’s youth relate to, are motivated by and that moves them to take positive action. If you choose to use boring financial literacy curriculum that focuses on theory instead of practical financial education skills you risk boring the students and turning them off the subject. Pay close attention to the students and ask for their feedback so you can make lesson plan adjustments if requested.

Most people agree that delivering financial literacy curriculum will help today’s youth pick up practical financial education skills. Follow the tips above and check out resources offered by leading financial education companies.

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How to Pick a College Financial Literacy Program

According to recent reports there is a financial crisis sweeping the country has affected everybody, but college student have been some of the hardest hit. Many people forget to consider is how it will affect their children’s college education.

Now days it is tough to get a student loan and this is even affecting many current students. Unfortunately, more are more students are dropping out of college due to financial reasons. Many universities have made cuts to their class schedule which forces many college students to stay in school for several more years to earn their degree. This often leaves them with a large college debt bill when they finally do graduate.

One of the best things one can do in a climate of economic challenge is to get a college education. For many high school students, a college education is something they were working towards for many years. Yet when many do graduate high school they are unprepared for the financial challenges that await them in college.

Since financial education is not required in most high schools and many parents are not able to teach this to their children either – it is up to colleges to give them a financial literacy program they need to succeed. This not only will help the students but also the colleges themselves. College financial literacy programs will help them retain students, boost their graduation rate and earn a highly respected reputation.

Providing a college financial literacy program will help your students be responsible with their money and this is a crucial part of preparing them for college and beyond. One great way to do this is through college financial literacy programs and we’ll take a look at how these programs can make a difference in your student’s college success.

College financial literacy programs are designed to getting students ready to be financially responsible. Plus this involves them picking up real world life skills that will help them succeed after college. A real world college financial literacy program should include training on: the mental game of money, having a proper relationship with money, what accounts to open, how to evaluate loans, how to build credit, investments, how to use credit and debit cards responsibly, and deciding the difference between a need and a want.

College financial literacy programs should teach your students about finances in a way they relate too. Financial literacy presentations, curriculum and other programs should instill these skills in a way that educates and entertains. Since college age students learn much more effectively through entertainment than just the run of the mill boring presentation.

College financial literacy programs are the beginning to solving the problems that are faced by so many people today. They will help your students make a big difference in their life and will help them to develop responsible, effective spending habits.

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