Did you know that April is the official National Financial Literacy Month? I had probably heard this tidbit at one time, however “national months” don’t seem to get the publicity that “national days” get. (And some “national days”, such as “National Chocolate Day”, seem to get celebrated whenever someone decides to do so on social media!) It wasn’t until our school was considering hosting a financial literacy event and trying to nail down a date that I found out that April is National Financial Literacy Month!
What do you have planned to celebrate Financial Literacy with your students? It doesn’t have to be in April; you can celebrate it whenever you want! You’re not sure what they would want or need in terms of financial literacy? Those were the same questions we wrestled with when we started to plan an event.
When we started planning our first event, we were a little unsure where to start. One of the things that helped me the most was to attend a financial literacy session at the Federal Student Aid Conference a few years ago. It was there that I gathered some ideas from other schools that had tried various things.
The one piece of advice I brought home from that session was the speaker who told us that no matter how simple or elaborate of an attempt, we had to do SOMETHING in terms of providing financial literacy information to our students. You can then build on that idea in the future and do something more elaborate.
The speaker went on to mention quick and easy ideas such as a small flier stapled to refund checks with financial literacy tips or table tents listing tips to place on cafeteria tables. Some of the more involved ideas included having sessions and speakers on various financial literacy topics and interactive games and quizzes in which students could participate.
The one thing I’ve come to learn in life is that many students are no longer being taught the basics of financial literacy in grade school, middle school, and high school. Many of them don’t know how to budget their money or make a budget for the month, balance a check book, start saving for retirement by “paying yourself first each month”, etc.
I’ve found that the internet is a great source of financial literacy information. When providing information to our students, we stick to information written by national lenders or some of the Department of Education loan servicers. (Don’t forget to ask permission or give them credit if you use their information!)
During the school year we e-mail an electronic budget calendar to our students. We also include various school-related events and holidays on the calendar, along with some financial tips. The calendar is a tool they can use to help them plan their monthly budget and remind themselves when certain bills are due, etc.
Like many schools, we struggle with having the time and staff to come up with and implement fresh new ideas. We utilize one of our work study employees (and have had an intern in past years) to assist with our financial literacy efforts. If you haven’t incorporated financial literacy into your office information, I encourage you to “do something” – no matter how simple or elaborate!
Before tackling the piles on my desk, I’m going to spend a few minutes jotting down some financial literacy ideas that have come to mind as I was writing this article. First, however, I think I need some chocolate! Hmm…maybe someone has named today “National Chocolate Day” on Facebook and one of my co-workers baked some chocolate chip cookies last night!
Brought to you by:
Marlene Seeklander, Training Committee