Tales Out of School: Lessons Learned from Money Smart Presentations to Youth
Wanted: Your Tips for Teaching Young People About Money
The FDIC is interested in your tips, success stories, experiences or other information about the best ways to use Money Smart to teach students from grade school through high school. Submit your stories today!
The FDIC asked Money Smart participants who have used our financial education materials in presentations to college, high school or middle school students to tell us their success stories, anecdotes, suggested do's and don'ts, and other tips and information that other educators would find helpful. The responses were enlightening and entertaining. Here are the contributions we thought you'd find most useful.
Advice from Bank's Full-Time Teacher Chelsea Groton Bank (Groton, CT), in honor of its 150th anniversary, wanted to demonstrate its dedication to the community by underwriting the FDIC Money Smart curriculum in our local schools. The bank has made a long-term commitment by establishing this “Legacy Program.” They hired me from within the bank to serve as community education officer. It is my full-time job to present the program throughout southeastern Connecticut. The bank supplies the books and other peripheral materials at no charge to the schools. I am now teaching Money Smart classes in nine local high schools and am looking to expand the program in the spring semester.
Pamela Days-Luketich, Community Education Officer, Chelsea Groton Bank, Groton, CT
Each school implements the program in a different way. North Stonington High School included a field trip to the bank's main office, where the students assembled in our board room and listened to short presentations by our director of customer relations and other specialists. One parent-chaperone was so impressed that she and her daughter visited one of our branches to research and open a checking account.
I have found that the materials and methods of presentation need to be “jazzed” up for a teenage audience. I have added videos on credit, identity fraud, entrepreneurship, and other topics. Some of my schools are competing against each other in a contest to make the best video depicting credit card debt, explaining its dangers and how to avoid them.
For the “Loan to Own” section, the students are instructed to pick out their dream cars from the ads in our local newspaper, and then the class discusses whether they can afford them, and how they would finance them. It might seem glamorous to own a Mercedes-Benz, but if it causes you to go bankrupt perhaps it's not so glamorous after all.
Keeping class interesting is of utmost importance. Jeopardy-style quizzes with small prizes (pens, key chains, etc.) and stories (the “gorier” the stories the better) are incredibly effective. Do you know anyone who has had their identity stolen? (The more money lost the better.) Do you know anyone who has gone bankrupt? Making the concepts and the consequences “real” for the students is the challenge and the reward.
In one recent class, an interpreter for a student was most interested in the checkbook demonstration. I later found out that he had never known how to properly fill out a check or keep or balance his check register!
-- Pamela Days-Luketich, Community Education Officer, Chelsea Groton Bank, Groton, CT
Focus on What's Relevant – Such as Buying a Car Brockton High School (Brockton, MA) teachers commented on the following aspects of the Money Smart curriculum.
Bob O'Neill: "I have found the practical nature of the FDIC material to be engaging for my students because it promotes discussion and an interactive classroom environment. The easy to follow, step-by-step lecture format keeps the class pace flowing and holds the students' interest."
Kathy Quigg: “As a result of the Money Smart curriculum, many of my students have opened bank accounts right here in the school (through the school bank), and said they would like to try using a debit card -- no checking accounts yet and no credit cards yet!”
Also, teacher comments included the following “do's” for Money Smart educators: Interject your own personal and or professional experiences into class discussion. Integrate the computer version of Money Smart into lessons. Choose materials that are relevant and interesting to students -- for example, buying a car. Have students compile a list of important vocabulary terms to reinforce concepts and refer to in the future. Use the PowerPoint slides to keep the class flowing and attentive. Use the Web site to reinforce concepts – it has very good references and detail.
Suggestions for improvement: Incorporate a personal budget section into curriculum. There is not enough detail and information on credit cards. Incorporate a module on ethics.
-- Donna Burrill, Business Department Chair, Brockton High School, Brockton, MA
Illustrate the Negative and Positive Sides of Credit I have spoken about credit to more than 1,000 high school seniors and more than 300 junior high school students using Money Smart information. I think what struck home for the students was the impact credit can have on your life. For example, I told them that a bad credit history or no credit history could result in:
Not getting the automobile you what. You could end up in a junker.
Not getting the ring or wedding you want for your spouse, which could end up in no spouse.
Not getting the house you want for your spouse, which again could end up in no spouse.
Not getting the job you want because of spotty credit, which could destroy your upward mobility.
Basically, I constructed scenarios that resulted in bad credit – for example, the Spiderman II movie you rented fell behind the TV, you forget to take it back to the video store and your delinquent account was sent to a bill collector. Then I created stories about how all of the bad things above could and would happen if you misuse credit. The students could actually start to envision some of these negative scenarios in their lives.
I also painted the positive on how credit could save thousands in interest on future cars and houses.
A Student's Wrong Answer: “Bankruptcy Is a Good Thing” I have used the Money Smart program in our local technical college and in a General Educational Development (GED) high school diploma class. One of the most interesting comments that remains in my mind was by a young woman in a GED class. I was explaining the problems that arise after filing bankruptcy. Her statement was, “I thought bankruptcy was a good thing because it makes all of your bills go away.”
I was once a teacher and I now have three children in school. I am amazed that they are taught difficult courses like Algebra and Geometry and will probably graduate without being exposed to credit reports or other personal finance concepts. Just a 50-point difference on a credit score will cost a mortgage customer thousands of dollars during the life of the loan because of a higher interest rate. We must educate the public about good credit.
-- Mark Waters, Vice President, The Claxton Bank, Claxton, GA
From College Classes to Workshops and Seminars In July 2001, the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) collaborated with the City of Chicago's Treasurer's Office to offer a financial literacy program called “Our Money Matters,” and a month later the City Colleges adopted the nationally recognized Money Smart curriculum developed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Topics covered included: the basics of banking; introduction to credit cards; how to choose a checking or savings account; financial planning and budgeting; debt management, avoiding predatory loans; home ownership; and credit management/rehabilitation. The instructors are experts in each designated field of study.
Classes are offered at all seven City Colleges of Chicago and their extension centers. I launch a print media campaign before each semester, which includes advertising in community newspapers. The program has been very successful, with over 3,800 students having participated. We also offered the Spanish-language version of Money Smart at selected City Colleges and sponsored workshops at the Mexican Consulate
From the program's inception, we also have networked with and established partnerships and classes with universities, social service agencies, faith-based and community-based organizations. We've offered six-week classes, workshops and seminars. Students who complete the program earn “Passport Certificates” that will enable them to open a checking or savings account at participating banks.
Due to the overwhelming success of the initial program, more than 1,600 students requested advanced training on managing and investing money wisely. That is why, in May 2003, the CCC proposed Phase II of “Our Money Matters,” an expanded financial literacy program to provide more advanced information on investments, insurance, trusts, real estate investing and small business ownership so that participants will know how to make sophisticated investment and entrepreneurial decisions. Phase II is scheduled to begin in Spring 2005 and will be offered at all seven City Colleges.
-- Kyla Wilson, Program Coordinator, Harold Washington College (part of the City Colleges of Chicago)
Discussing Credit Awareness…Before, During and After College I presented the credit report portion of Money Smart to students and some professors and staff members at the college I graduated from in Texas. I included what I call my credit awareness timeline -- I explained my knowledge of credit before college, during college, and then what I learned after college. It gave them comfort to know that someone else had been in their shoes.
D. Simone Stovall, FDIC Senior Bank Examiner (consumer regulation compliance), Chicago
The group seemed most interested in how to clean up negative items on their credit report and other tidbits about maintaining good credit, which I addressed by telling personal stories. They also were very glad to learn that they could write a 100-word statement on their credit report to comment on a particular credit.
Another area of discussion that hit home with the group was explaining how credit solicitations work, such as “apply and get 10 percent off all day while you shop” or “you have been pre-approved for a credit limit of $10,000.” I took copies of credit solicitations in their area and explained them thoroughly but in simple terms.
I also remember a lengthy discussion about how to keep clean credit while going through a divorce, and how credit scores are calculated. I had various reference materials with me that I have gathered throughout the years while working as a bank examiner and from contacting credit bureaus directly.
-- D. Simone Stovall, FDIC Senior Bank Examiner (consumer regulation compliance), Chicago
College Freshmen and the Cold Reality of Credit Card Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI), a non-profit credit counseling agency, has used the Money Smart curriculum with much success in the local community and colleges and universities in conjunction with its community outreach program. Since late summer, we have shared the Money Smart curriculum with more than 500 freshmen students at North Carolina's Methodist College, Fayetteville State University and Fayetteville Technical Community College. This does not include other participants in community workshops.
Lillie Booth, Director of Education, Consumer Education Services, Inc., Fayetteville, NC
Based on the response from the students and school officials, the information is right on target. We concentrated primarily on the “Charge It Right” module for the freshmen and it was an eye-opener for them. Our goal is to help them prevent debt so they don't have to take advantage of our services because they become overwhelmed by credit card balances.
Our counselors have used the computer-based instruction during upcoming seminars; the participants were excited about the interactive content and stimulated by the interesting presentation. CESI recently established a community Learning Center and Library for consumers and counselors, and we offer Money Smart as a resource. Our Web site also is being upgraded with a link to Money Smart.
-- Lillie Booth, Director of Education, Consumer Education Services, Inc., Fayetteville, NC
Finding Satisfaction in Teaching I used the Money Smart program this fall in Grenada High School in Mississippi to teach four different classes totaling 68 students.
I had no problem getting their attention. I let them know at the beginning of the class that there were no dumb questions, only dumb people who don't get their questions asked. They really chimed in after that. The question-and-answer session is the most important part and the best part of the class. You find out what they know and don't know and what really interests them. The students seemed most interested in electronic banking, debit cards, credit cards, etc. I fielded a lot of questions on these areas.
Their questions ran the gamut. They obviously did not truly understand our banking system and how credit works. By answering their specific questions I believe they left the class with a heightened awareness of what banks can do for them and how bankers can help them with their financial needs in the future.
The time just flew by and several students asked me to come back soon. The program was so well received and that the counselor at the school wants me to come and do it twice a year.
-- Wayne Smith, President, BancorpSouth,Grenada, MS
A Full Day Away from the Bank…and in the Classroom For the past two years Randy Allen, one of our Vice Presidents, and I have gone to the Olive Branch Middle School in Mississippi and talked to the “Career Discovery” classes. We stay a full two days and talk to 450 to 500 students using the “Bank On It” material in Money Smart.
David Beene, Senior Vice President, BancorpSouth, Olive Branch, MS
The students keep us busy with their questions. The “Bank On It” section is written so the middle school students understand what they have read and know how to put it to use. The teachers like the material and take part in asking questions while we are presenting the material.
By the time we leave they have a good overview of the basics of banking and the students have the booklets for future reference. This lets them know what banks and other financial institutions have to offer and how they can begin to use the services of these institutions.
We are already scheduled to go back in October of 2005, and do the same with another 500 students. We plan, however, to involve more of our bank officers in the future and do this same program at our other middle school and two high schools. We try to schedule this educational program the week and the day of the American Bankers Association's “Get Smart About Credit Day” and the teachers usually let us pick the time, if we contact them and plan early.
-- David Beene, Senior Vice President, BancorpSouth, Olive Branch, MS
Learning the Cost of Credit I taught a class of 24 juniors and seniors at the McIntosh High School in South Dakota, using the “Charge It Right” module of Money Smart.
Gary Bubbers, Personal Banking Officer, Great Western Bank, McIntosh, SD
I was surprised when I asked how many students have received credit card offers. Four students had already received credit card applications in their name. The length of time to pay off a debt with minimum payments really surprised these kids.
I hope the students will have learned something that will stick with them when they start to use credit. The teacher also took part and asked as many questions as the students. She said she wished someone would have shown her something like this module earlier in life. I also am hoping the school will let me set up classes on topics other than credit.
Teaching this group was great. They seemed to pay attention better than other classes I have taught.
-- Gary Bubbers, Personal Banking Officer, Great Western Bank, McIntosh, SD
Bankers Teaching Life Skills In September 2004, Bank One employees became teachers at Alhambra High School in Phoenix. More than 750 high school freshmen got lessons in managing a checking account from bankers Ken Saelens and Jessica Beiser.
Keva T. Womble, Assistant Vice President, Bank One, Community Development Group, Phoenix, AZ
The freshman curriculum at Alhambra High includes a business technology class whose instructor has integrated life-skills training with this class to prepare students for the future. Knowing the importance of managing finances, the teacher contacted Bank One, which uses the Money Smart program for youth and adults. “We need assistance from the business community to help students become proficient in life skills," said business technology teacher Richard Havermale.
The students were given exams to impress upon them the importance of the content covered in the classes and the Money Smart seminars. Each session was approximately 45 minutes.
The students seemed most interested in money management and clarifying the best time to write a check versus using a bank debit card. Among the concepts the bankers emphasized was the advantage of using bank accounts. The kids also asked about were investing in bank stock and how to prepare for a career in banking. The biggest surprise to the students were the fees associated with mismanaging an account and learning that establishing a good credit report begins with a checking account.
-- Keva T. Womble, Assistant Vice President, Bank One, Community Development Group, Phoenix, AZ
Community Partnerships to Teach Financial Literacy Since 2002, we have been teaching the Money Smart program twice a year in Lake Charles, LA. We have had classes for people who have recently become literate, for people from other countries who are now learning English as a second language, and for people who want to know more about banking. Our classes have had students from high school age to retirees. The classes usually have 15 to 25 students. We have probably taught 100 to 125 people.
Tom Baldassari, Vice President and Compliance Officer, Cameron State Bank, Lake Charles, LA
Approximately 20 percent of the participants are under the age of 20. In talking to these kids I usually ask them why they are taking these classes. The most common answer is "my parents told me to come." Our high schools are graduating kids who don't have a clue how to manage their personal finances. They can open up an account, use their ATM/debit card and that's about it. They don't know how to budget, invest, balance their checkbook or shop for a loan. Several kids in my classes have come to me later for individual help with their banking. I believe that every high school senior should be required to take a course in financial education. I hear too many times in my class, "I wish I had known that before I got my last loan."
This all started when we attended an FDIC seminar that introduced us to the Money Smart program. Years ago I taught Junior Achievement classes and I knew we needed this type of financial education in Lake Charles. Also attending that meeting were representatives of other banks and other community organizations. One such organization was the Literacy Council of Southwest Louisiana. At the end of that seminar I spoke with representatives of the Literacy Council to see if they were interested in a partnership to offer such a program in our community. Soon a partnership was formed.
The Literacy Council organizes the classes and recruits the students. Last year we added the local library system to our partnership. Their contribution has been a meeting room for the classes, which is located in our central library and is well-known to the public. Each course is divided into six-week sessions. Each session is two hours long. Prior to the start of each course, a marketing campaign is conducted by all three partners. There are flyers, brochures, lobby notices, newspaper and TV spots to promote the Money Smart classes. Cameron State Bank provides instructors and furnishes all training materials.
At the end of the six weeks, certificates of completion are given to those who attend. We conduct evaluations after each class and work together to improve the classes. The comments we receive prove to us that our efforts are indeed helping others.
-- Tom Baldassari, Vice President and Compliance Officer, Cameron State Bank, Lake Charles, LA
Adapting Money Smart to Your Audience As a math teacher, I used Money Smart to design a financial planning unit, which is used as part of a financial education course in Maryville High School. The majority of my students have learning disabilities, so I had to transform the lecture material of Money Smart into technology-based exercises and activities.
I first became aware of the extreme need for financial education during a summer externship at Citizens Bank and Trust in Maryville, MO. Many of the students and adults who entered the bank had no idea what was needed to open a checking or savings account or apply for a loan. My mission was to observe the departments in the bank and design a high school financial planning unit based on the needs of the customers and my students.
This unit covers Money Smart material by using the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program Workbook. Students apply the concepts learned in the workbook to various tasks. Throughout the unit students write about their findings. For example, students are asked to use the Internet to select an automobile to purchase. They are then asked to choose among interest rates and loan terms. Finally, they complete an application form for a loan and also fill out the paperwork to open a savings or checking account from which payments will be withdrawn automatically.
Many students have told me that they used the instructional packet as a reference when they applied for a car loan or opened a bank account. Others used the workbook to assist their parents in applying for home loans.
Creating financial planning activities for adults and students is greatly needed. For those of you attempting to incorporate Money Smart, adapt the units to fit the specific needs of your audience, make it fun and applicable to their lifestyles, and always remember, you are making a difference.
-- Hope Pappert, math teacher, Maryville High School, Maryville, MO
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-- Penny Linhart, family consumer science teacher, Grass Range High School, Grass Range, MT
Bankers Uniting to Teach College As an officer of East Boston Savings Bank and a trustee of North Shore Community College it was easy for me to see the need for financial literacy education. Over the last two months, I have created a collaborative partnership to begin to address this issue. This partnership includes the college, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, five local banks and the FDIC.
Philip Freehan, Executive Vice President, East Boston Savings Bank, East Boston, MA.
Money Smart will be the core curriculum used for three free financial literacy non-credit courses offered by the college's Lynn (inner city) and Danvers (suburban) campus locations. Courses will be taught in English and Spanish by bankers from East Boston Savings Bank, Eastern Bank, Danvers Savings Bank, Sovereign Bank, and North Shore Bank. These bankers have all completed the FDIC's train-the-trainer program. Local banks, the college and the Massachusetts Bankers Association will underwrite the program.
As a community banker and a college trustee, I am particularly excited about the way this partnership is coming together to address financial literacy. Also speaking as a trustee, we hope our success can be used as the model for other colleges. Another positive by-product is that East Boston Savings Bank and other banks are firming up plans for additional financial literacy outreach efforts in 2005.
-- Philip Freehan, Executive Vice President, East Boston Savings Bank, East Boston, MA.