Tips and tools for teaching personal finance.
ONCE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE CURRICULUM in many school systems,
little emphasis lias limn placed on personal finance education in recent
years. As a result of the recession and the collapse of the housing
market, educators have realized that we need to refocus our efforts on
teaching personal finance. However, as in all areas, the emergence of
technology and the Internet have changed the ways we need to teach
personal finance. Balancing a cl teekbook must include the frequent use
of the debit card; bank statements can he checked online daily; funds
can be transferred in a matter of seconds; and the list goes on. Not
only has content changed, but the way we teach has changed. Classes are
often online, and YouTube, social networking sites and smart phones have
become valuable teaching tools.
How Did We Get Here?
The National Financial Educators Council states:
"Most adults received their personal financial education front the school of hard knocks--they suffered financial setbacks and learned expensive lessons along the way. ... Why do so moo), college students get deep in debt, max out their credit cards and miss payments regularly? It comes down to the fact that they never received a personal financial education. Mg never had the opportunity to learn in a safe environment like their home or school; consequently, they often mess up their first Jew financial decisions. These little mistakes early on sometimes spiral into bigger problems later." (1)
What Can We Do About It?
As consumers, when we look at the recent recession and the collapse
of the housing market, we have to ask ourselves, “How did this
happen?” As educators, we ask ourselves. “How can we prevent
this from happening again” The answer is to teach our students
Providing personal finance education can help our studnets manage
their finances by enabling them to save money. reduce any debt and
invest in their future. According to Ben Bernanke, “Financial
education must be a lifelong pursuit that enables consumers of all ages
and economic positions to stay attuned to changes in their financial
needs and circumstances.” (2) Students need to realize that the
time to be concerned about their financial situation is now. Andriotis
found that total student debt fir financing postsecondary education
exceeded $1 trillion in 2011, and that 11 percent of students who owed
on student loans were 90 days or more past due. (3) A survey or 19
college students in a beginning. business class conducted by this author
found that 13 students had a student loan, and seven of those students
owed more than $10,000 on that loan.
What Should We Include in Personal Finance?
Standards for personal finance curriculum have been developed by
the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. JumpStart is a
national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the financial
literacy of pre-kindergarien through college-age youth by providing
advocacy, research, standards and educational resources. The JtmipStart
Coalition realizes that not all the standards may apply to all courses.
To find both the national tandards and the standards (hr your state, go
Education and Entertainment
So how can we get our students interested in personal finance? How
can we make the subject interesting and exciting? Rollins states,
“Acknowledging the clear need for a financially literate populace,
business Leachers must find creative ways to teach fundamental financial
concepts.” (4) There are numerous activities to interest students
and to get their attention. Below are some tools and techniques which
may be helpful to personal finance teachers. As always, the classroom
teacher needs to make sure copyright laws are not violated.
1. Use music to generate excitement and interest in personal
finance. A ravorite is “I Want to Be a Billionaire,” by Tavie
McCoy. There are many vcrsions of this song on You-lube, and sonic
versions use words not acceptable in a classroom. Listen all the way
through on the version. you choose before playing it in class. Two
versions used by the author can be found at
www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-x88h7xAv8. The second link is the
“country” version, and usually gets a good laugh out of
2. Use comedy. Tim Clue presents a comedy routine on debt, which
can be found on YouTube at the following link:
3. Use real-life success stories.
4. Use commercials found on YouTube. The FreeCreditReport.com
commercials can be used to introduce credit reports and can lead to a
discussion on how poor credit can affect a person’s life. After
this discussion, it is wise to follow up with the fact that
www.annuakreditreport.com is the only place students can actually get a
Free credit report, despite what various commercials advertise. Note: In
the author’s college class, all students are required to get a free
copy of their credit report and check it for accuracy.
5. Use newspaper advertisements offering financing. Using ads
selling cars with zero percent financing can lead to a good discussion
on credit scores.
6. Use simulations. One good simulation for middle school and high
school students is “The Spending Challenge” offered by The
Mint (www.themint.org/teens/take-the-spending-challenge.html). Stock
market simulations are also eflective. There are several Free stock
market simulations on lie web, but, although it requires a small fee,
the one sponsored by the Council for Economic Education gets high
accolades (www.councilforeconed.org). And, although they may not include
debit transactions, checkbook simulations may also be used. A free
checkbook simulation can be found at www.moneyinstructor.com/checks.asp.
A handy simulation for creating a budget or money diary can be found at
The topics in personal finance are man, and the resources are
endless. With the proper resources, the problem of educating our
students in personal finance is surmountable.
Below is a list of resources which the personal finance instructor
may find useful. Some are free, while others require modest fees. Some
are expensive but have financial resources available to defray costs.
AFSA Education Foundation
Council for Economic Education
National Endowment for Financial
Education’s High School Financial
Practical Money Skills for Life
(1.) National Financial Educators Council, “NFEC Best
Practices in Financial Education,”
(Retrieved February 25, 2012).
(2.) Bernanke, B.S., Statement by Chairman Bernanke on financial
literacy. Board of the Governors of the Federal Reserve System (April
(3.) Andriotis, A., “Student Loan Delinquencies Hit New
High,” www.marketwatch.com/story/student-loan-delinquencies-hit-new-high-2012-11-27 (November 28, 2012).
(4.) Rollins, W., “Realistic Personal Finance for Today’s
Students.” Business Education Forum 66(2) (December 2011): 30-32.
Marcella Prater, Ed.D., is an associate professor in the Department
of Adult & Career Education at Valdosta State University, Valdosta,
Georgia. She has over 30 years’ teaching experience in the field of
business education and office administration technology. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.