When the Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) presents workshops, we avoid telling youth we teach financial education or literacy, words that may make eyes glaze or elicit a negative reaction. Its’ not that we don’t want them to know or understand what we do, however, we have made a conscious choice to give them a quality experience while making their learning fun. Instead we tell them, we teach youth about money; how to get it, how to save it and how to spend it wisely. This approach makes them curious about what’s next.
This summer CFSFC had a different audience for our financial education workshops, children ages 5-10 years old. This required a different approach, especially when you are talking about education beyond high school, paychecks and things you need to pay for to set up a household. We needed to simplify but not to the point of boredom. Our goal was to share knowledge in a fun way.
Younger children love to share, so we began the “Adult for a Day” workshop with questions that required them to raise their hand, such as “who likes money; do you want to have fun; and who wants to be an adult today.” When asked, “do you want to have fun?” everyone raised their hand. However, when asked, “who likes to learn?” there were fewer hands. We had to keep to our promise to make the learning fun.
Each child was paired with someone older, even if only a year, to make a team of two. All members of the team had a role, the older was the bookkeeper and was responsible to keep track and write down how much money they spent, and the younger was the banker that paid for their choices. After a few hiccups, with some of the children telling the adults to keep the change from their $500 bill and confusion about how much to pay, the game got rolling. One young lady of about nine was paired with a little guy of five, she was a good team leader who asked his opinion on choices and let him make decisions. Volunteers are crucial in responding positively to the children’s questions and helping them make choices in setting up their household.
“Adult for a Day” requires each team to spend their monthly net salary from a preassigned career in order to set up their first household. This requires teams to move around the room and visit different budget stations to make choices for their housing, utilities, transportation and recreation. Most of the teams decided they would live at home (lowest cost) although eating out was big on their spending list.
One team came to the Grocery station and admitted that they had no money left for food. They had spent money on a new car and put the maximum in savings despite having a very low income as a Security Guard. We encouraged them to save only for emergencies and to purchase a used car instead. They were relieved to have money for food and $30 left over for spending at the end of the month. When offering advice to another team, I recommended they take the cheap choices. A minute later the kindergarten team member came up and asked, “what does cheap mean?” After a simple explanation, he continued the game. No one ran out of money and for the most part the children were very frugal.
One of the stations is “Life Events” and we use a familiar cartoon character, Charlie Brown, to emphasize what kind of things can happen to kids, from losing a ball game, to not doing well in school or having friends who like to play tricks on them. They are given a choice of cards and need to select one card that might earn or cost them money ($100-200). We selected scenarios children would be familiar with such as not doing homework (-$100); doing their chores (+$100): not eating their vegetables (-$100) or telling someone they loved them (+$200 . This introduced them to the concept of consequences for choices and lead to laughter or groans.
Once teams visited each station, they were encouraged to add up all the money they spent to see how much they had left. Volunteers helped with the math and most teams were eager to do the calculating. A few of the children shared what they learned from the workshop with comments like, “being an adult is hard work”; “you shouldn’t spend too much money”; and one boy told his dad, “buy only the things you really need and don’t buy crap.”
You can see by all the smiles, all 570 of them this summer, we accomplished our goal of making learning fun!
To make learning about financial education fun, you may want to incorporate the following suggestions:
- Keep it simple- use questions to keep youth engaged
- Give them a role to play and keep them moving
- Pair them up with someone younger or someone they don’t know
- Use volunteers of different ages and backgrounds to assist and model being an adult
- Offer choices within the game or presentation
- Present something surprising whether it be a choice, like Life Happens or a consequence
- Expect the unexpected and have fun!
We encourage you to take part in teaching youth about money by volunteering your time or making a personal donation.
Summer is here again!
The children have been waiting for the time when they are free from school, finished all their tests and can sleep late. But wait, we as parents and educators don’t want them to sleep their summer away or stay indoors tied to electronics.
We want them to have experiences, get outside and of course keep their brains active. This is especially true for middle school youth ages 11-14 who are not old enough to find a paying job and too old to stay at home with a sitter. Youth can lose precious math and reading skills over the summer.
Three of the most important things you can do to help youth:
- Encourage reading all summer long-Libraries are free and plentiful.
- Promote creativity and imagination- Kids.gov offers free activities Art & Music
- Keep youth moving and eating healthy.
- Forsyth County EFNEP helps families improve their diet and lifestyle in fun and healthy ways. Offer free classes, participants taste delicious recipes, improve cooking skills, and increase their knowledge on how to save money on groceries. Learn to Cook & Shop Wisely
- PBS Parents has a website full of free ideas to keep children moving. Sports & Fitness
Many youth participate in summer program through the YMCA, city Parks and Recreation and specialty art, dance or sports camps. Check out what is available for your children.
CFSFC is collaborating with several summer programs to help youth keep their reading, writing and math skills alive through fun money workshops. Over 600 youth will participate in one of our workshops this summer. Volunteers are needed to support youth learning valuable skills for the future.
What does this mean?
Why is it important to you and your family?
Financial Literacy is the ability to understand how money works in the world: how someone manages to earn or make it, how that person manages it, how he/she invests it (turns it into more) and how that person donates it to help others.
The keys to managing your money include:
Pay yourself first.
- Before you spend one dollar on rent/mortgage, car payment, credit cards or any other bill, set aside $10 out of every $100 or ten percent of your take home pay.
- Make savings automatic by setting up direct deposits.
Build an emergency savings fund.
- Experts agree that three to six months of your monthly living expenses is the ideal. However, for most people that is not possible but almost anyone can manage to set aside $200-$500.
Reduce your spending leaks.
- Many of us spend money on things that are not necessary to life. Think of stopping for coffee, sweet tea or soda and of course fast food. If you reduce some of those items, you can put money you are already spending into your emergency fund. Spending Leaks Worksheet
Talking about money with your family
It is vital that families begin talking about money while children are young to help them be ready for the challenges they will face as adults. Make it simple and age appropriate. Pointers for Parents at Every Stage
- Make the concept of money real by showing youth how much things cost like your electric or cable bill.
- Show them an ATM machine and explain how you have to put money into your account from working so you can have cash when you need it. Bring them inside your financial institution for a tour and to take some of the mystery out of what happens there.
- Use going to the grocery or retail store as way to show them how much things cost, to compare prices and when older, what discounts and clearance items are all about.
- Involve your children in budgeting by planning a family activity that will require them to give up something like a trip to McDonalds or the movies to save for an activity that will leave a memory.
Increasing your own financial knowledge
At the Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) we help individuals find out what their habits and attitudes are towards money and the things they value most in life. Then, we guide them to accomplish the goals they desire and fulfill our vision of “Helping people build assets leading to a comfortable financial future for them and their family.” We offer this assistance to adults through a Financial Wellness Checkup.
Celebrate Financial Literacy Month by “Investing in our Youth”
on April 18, 2017.
Teens today face a multitude of challenges to reach adulthood including academic worries, depression, bullying, drugs and alcohol. Despite those challenges, we are making headway in “cultivating youth for a future of financial wellness”.
The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) shared knowledge on the role of additional education in improving the future prospects of over 3,400 youth in 2016. Each youth began building a framework of financial competency that will enable them to look forward to a stable life. The demand for financial education continues unabated and CFSFC is the only non-profit doing this work with youth.
We offered 163 workshops at 41 different locations in Forsyth, Stokes and Guilford counties. This would not have been possible without the help of 99 volunteers who donated 635 hours.
What Teens Learned in 2016
CFSFC asked over 2,300 high school students to complete an evaluation of their learning while participating in the “Adult for A Day” budget and credit workshop. The average student was 16 years old, 49% were female and 51% were male.
Students were asked about their future plans and if they have spoken to their parents. Most students have talked about their college plans with their parents, although their expectations about how college will be paid for are unconfirmed.
What changes will teens make in their financial habits?
- 42% agreed to Track Expenses for One Week
- 58% will Change One Habit To Save Money
- 42% Plan to Open A Savings Account
- 48% will consider more Classes to Make Good Financial Choices
Financial Education Addresses the Future
|Teaching children about money- how to manage it, save it and spend it wisely – is essential to making sure they are prepared for the financial world.|
|Teens were asked where they got their financial advice from and 86% percent reported they learned from their families.
George Washington University economics professor Annamaria Lusardi has done pioneering research on financial literacy. Her studies have documented the gaps in financial knowledge among different demographic groups. “What the data on financial literacy shows is that financial knowledge is unequally distributed,” says Lusardi. “Those with the least knowledge are also the most vulnerable groups in economic terms.
Lusardi directs the Global Finance Literacy Excellence Center that focuses on raising the level of financial knowledge through financial-literacy education. “Finance has entered the lives of every family in a much more significant way than in the past. We now have a lot more responsibility for managing our money. Everyone needs to know the ABCs of finance,” notes Lusardi.
Join us in Investing in our Youth
We ask teens what other knowledge they need for a successful future and they told us:
- Need help opening a savings or checking account
- Information about different career choices
- Help in getting a job now
- Help applying for scholarships and grants
- Strategies for spending less & saving more money
Here are a few lessons learned as shared by youth:
- I have started tracking the amount of money I spend, and based on this, I change my bad habits of wasting money on unnecessary things.
- I have learned how to keep a proper budget so I have saved a lot more money. I also set up a checking and savings account after learning about them.
- Well I’m not more willing to just spend money on whatever I want. I have to stop and ask myself do I really need this / want this and then I chose if I purchase the item or not. I have saved more and begun working towards saving for college.
- The Center for Smart Financial Choices made me more aware of my options on how to pay for college and save up to pursue other goals of mine such as studying abroad. I am more aware of the importance of saving my money and look forward to it because I know that I am making an investment in my life!
On April 18, 2017, we will hold the Second Annual Day of Giving Event highlighting the value of investing in the financial education of our youth.
Can we count on your financial support in helping our youth build better financial futures for themselves?
Learn what it will take for you to make a success of adulthood. Fun, hands-on budget/credit score workshop for teens ages 10-18.
Explore the importance of making smart financial choices now and in the future using a set income to make decisions about where you will live, what you will buy and how a good credit score can help you in the future.
Refreshments and prizes!