April is “Financial Literacy Awareness Month“, so I thought this guest post from Samantha Peters was quite timely, and important.
The second largest form of debt facing America today is credit card debt. It is second only to student loan debt. Many people get into debt problems because they do not have the basic knowledge required to understand the lending process. What a blessing it would be if our schools were more proactive and offered (or better yet, required) personal finance classes for high school and/or college students, to teach them about managing their money.
If personal finance is taught in the classroom, then our youth will be better prepared to face the financial challenges ahead. They will be less wowed by the retail cards presented to them at their favorite stores, and will be better able to understand their student loan terms before they take out the loan.
Many college graduates are stuck paying larger-than-expected monthly payments for student loans because they didn't understand the terms of the loans they starting taking out when they were freshmen. Many students also don't realize they can get free checking accounts, and use credit cards in place of checking, often ending up with large monthly credit card maintenance fees. By giving young people knowledge, we are giving them the power to make brighter financial choices for their future.
Check out “10 Reasons Why Schools Should Be Teaching Financial Literacy To Our Kids” for more reasons why it is so important to teach students about financial literacy.
Tips and Tools for Teachers
If a teacher wants to try to incorporate personal finance lessons into their classroom, there are many tips, tools, and games they can use to help them teach students. One fun approach is to have them set up imaginary credit card accounts. Students can be given fake credit cards with a predesignated limit. Every time they purchase something, they should write it down in a notebook designated as their credit card log.
At the end of the quarter or semester, the charge for the card's Annual Percentage Rate will be calculated for all of their purchases, showing them how much money they could lose to interest when using a credit card. You can introduce other nuances to the game as well, such as giving some students high APR credit cards and others more favorable low APR credit cards, to help them learn about the difference. There are also some great apps that younger students can play, such as The Bad Credit Hotel – a game created by the US Treasury Department that teaches children about bad credit.
By teaching children or teens about bad credit before they already have bad credit, we can help them avoid the fate that so many current Americans have relegated themselves to. These practices could help us prevent future generations of Americans from accruing too much consumer debt.
Avoiding excessive borrowing and irresponsible spending and learning how to budget and save prepares young people for a lifetime of financial success, rather than endless monetary struggles and worry. If we can get our schools and our teachers to start teaching this in their classrooms in a fun, innovative way by using the tricks and tools listed above, we can change lives.
Guest Post written by Sam Peters, who is an avid blogger and manager of theeducationupdate.com, where she covers topics from tech innovations to social media news in the world of education.