In an effort to raise public awareness about financial literacy, the month of April was officially named Financial Literacy Month in 2003 by the U.S. Senate. Throughout the month, various organizations support financial capability and help the public learn about smart money management habits. Teaching and supporting these habits at an early age, however, is the key to the longevity of positive financial habits.
Let’s break down age-appropriate ways to focus on financial literacy this April.
Elementary students are ripe for financial understanding if we give them the appropriate guidance.
Begin their financial journey with these learning activities:
Discuss the difference between Spending, Saving, and Giving. Encourage them to create their own money jars at home, labeled with each of the three categories.
Encourage kids to set their own savings goals and work towards them.
Learn how to make change, counting up from the cost to what the customer paid.
Visit a bank and learn about accounts, deposits, and loans
Middle School Students
Middle schoolers should actively be using money, but sometimes they haven’t learned how to do so responsibly, simply spending money as they receive it, and possibly never earning it on their own.
Beginner’s Financial Literacy skills include:
Discuss the concept of interest, showing them how savings accounts work.
Teach them how to write a check, including balancing the checkbook.
Discuss taxes on goods and what they are used for in the government.
Practice comparison shopping
High School Students
It’s all about real-world skills at this level. Teens want to know that what they’re learning can be applied in their futures, and you can be the conduit to practical knowledge and practice.
Skills they should practice and learn include:
Open a bank account - both checking and savings - if they haven’t already
Write a check & deposit money
Discuss credit and how it functions, explaining interest and how it compounds over time.
Explain the concept of budgeting, and help them create one for themselves
Discuss taxes, including sales and income
Reinforce the value of savings, incorporating short- and long-term savings goals
Parents, Faculty, & Administration
Financial literacy extends beyond the classroom into your communities, where it can have a noticeable impact. Helping people both manage current money and prepare for their futures are essential skills in this day and age, especially if you didn’t receive financial literacy training as a grade-school student. And, with many faculty and admins also being parents, these lessons will help everyone involved.
Host a 529 workshop about saving for future education.
Plan for retirement with a presentation on different savings options for the future, including 401Ks, IRAs, and Roth savings.
Give a “Financial Literacy for Kids” workshop where parents learn how to educate kids at home (and pick up a few pointers on their own)
Prepare for college finances with a guidance counselor hosting a workshop on the FAFSA, work-study programs, scholarships, and taxes with working teens