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Money Smarts: How to Promote Financial Literacy With Students

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Those of us who just filed our taxes, or paid our bills, or calculated our monthly expenditures know the importance of having a solid base of financial literacy. For students, it's just as important to have this base knowledge to prepare them for the real world, so in observation of Financial Literacy Month, here are a few resources to get those fiscal gears turning.


The new is the result of a partnership between Bank of America and the Khan Academy. While the link between behemoth bank and startup nonprofit might seem a strange marriage of company cultures, the combination of the former’s reach and credibility with the latter’s experience developing online video resources makes logical sense.

So far, the site features a 13-video selection on topics more likely suitable for high school and college students (and even adults), including creating and managing your own personal budget, understanding interest, understanding mortgages, digging yourself out of debt, and preparing financially for unpredictable tough times.


Visa’s financial literacy program features what has been a growing number of free online game titles accessible to a wide range of student ages. The simplest include a drag-and-drop game where players select which coins to deposit into a piggy bank to build up the most money, and puzzles that challenge players to assemble pieces on a screen into paper currency.

Among the more complex titles, "Financial Football" and "Financial Soccer" are geared toward sports fans ages 11 and up, where players assume control of their favorite teams or countries in a simulated game where the outcome of each play is decided based on how students answer finance-related questions. Then there's “Countdown to Retirement,” which might remind some of the time when Cliff gave Theo a financial lecture about being one of the "regular people."


This series of five fiscally driven online games comes from the Doorways to Dreams Fund, a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of helping low-income Americans use their limited resources more wisely through the development of new products and policies. Players help a vampire nightclub owner invest his profits and save for retirement in "Bite Club," try to reform the wasteful habits of the rich and famous in "Celebrity Calamity," and prepare for the inevitable but unpredictable famines, droughts, and other disasters in "Farm Blitz."


The series has actually been the subject of relatively recent academic research that has found, at the very least, that young adults who were exposed to such games are capable of learning better fiscal habits as a result. The series actually targets young adults, but should be understood by high school-age students as well.


For those parents or teachers who want a more structured and deeper delve into the subject of fiscal literacy, PricewaterhouseCoopers offers a nine-unit curriculum free online, with most units offered in separate formats for upper elementary, middle, and high school students.

While the bulk of the curriculum's reading lessons, worksheets, and assessments comes in PDF form, there are also 11 streaming videos, with about half of those directed toward students in grades 3-5. Units range from basic subjects like credit and debt, and savings and investment, to more specialized pursuits like home buying and paying for college.


For those of you looking for more financial literacy help, the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy's website can offer some direction. Its most helpful feature might be its online clearinghouse, which allows users to search for fiscally based education resources (print, digital, and audio/visual) by title, keyword, provider, grade level, or even appropriateness for special-needs students. Not all resources in the clearinghouse archives are free, but many are.

The site also offers web links to national standards on financial literacy and survey data on the financial acumen of American high schoolers and young adults, though both documents date back to the latter portion of the last decade.

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