Over 44% of Americans are not prepared for an emergency that would cost them $400 or more, and around 33% have no money saved for retirement. Our decisions matter in shaping the economy, and teaching middle schoolers financial literacy can help them develop healthy saving and budgeting skills.
This past week we hosted a free financial literacy workshop to teach children the value of money and the importance of decision making. Our workshop began with a lesson on credit and steps one should take to build a strong credit history starting in High School. While playing the Kahoot review game at the end of the credit lesson, we noticed that we should spend more time teaching credit, as it is not an easy concept to grasp.
For the next few lessons we played a Game of Life type activity. We covered the main types of decision making strategies and the concept of opportunity cost. We placed the students in real world situations and asked them to make a decision on which college to attend based on personal and financial opportunity costs.
Based on their chosen major and school, we then asked them to pick a job. We taught them how to seek a job and evaluate job benefits. Next, we introduced taxes! The students could choose a location for their chosen job based on the taxes in 5 different regions: Illinois, Arizona, California, Montana, and Tennessee. Although the taxes were higher in certain regions, the students were quick to notice that the salaries were also higher. Evaluating personal and financial costs, most of the groups chose to stay in California as Engineers.
Now came the longest and most exciting activity: Budgeting!! During this section we asked the students to create a budget for a month that included groceries, rent, utilities, transportation etc. We then asked them to compare their savings with the cost of attending college from the previous section, and two groups noticed that they were in debt. The budgeting lesson helped them understand the value of money and the importance of a well planned budget. We also covered different techniques such as sorting money into envelopes at the start of a month for different activities and only withdrawing cash from the respective envelopes.
We concluded the afternoon with a short lesson on banking and taught the kids how to write a check.
At the end of the workshop we met a few parents who sat in the back of the workshop. A parent had travelled over 2 hours so her children could learn the importance of money. Many children found the workshop helpful and are interested in more of these sessions.