Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Earn Your Future with PwC to Celebrate Financial Literacy Month

Hope springs eternal in April, and that's probably a primary reason that April is Financial Literacy Month. What could be more hopeful than feeling good about your finances?  That's certainly true as the date of April 15 approaches, and it most definitely factors into making your summer vacation plans. As both an educator and a parent, I am a huge proponent of children and adolescents learning about finance and feeling comfortable with the idea. As a kid I received my first credit card at age twelve - probably because my parents wanted the free microwave given away with new accounts. But rather than become a recipe for financial disaster, I learned many financial lessons quickly, and I've carried them through life. Primary lesson from my father ... and Saturday Night Live? Don't buy stuff you can't afford.

But, seriously, what can you afford?

There is so much that young people could benefit from learning before they become mired down in debt and financial indecision. What's a mortgage? Can I afford a cell phone? How can I grow my money? What exactly does it mean to "play the market?" All these questions can overwhelm people, but they can also be fantastic teaching moments that young people can benefit from before they make the real world decisions. And those teachable moments are the essence of financial literacy classes and programs. The PwC Foundations Earn Your Future Digital Lab is a comprehensive curriculum for grades 3-12 with countless resources and activities for students to engage with finance. That means engage with money - and who doesn't love that?  The elementary level will not be available until the fall, but the materials for middle and high school students are available now.

I'm a bit of a finance and economics geek, so working my way through the different modules was a lot like playing video games. By working your way through modules on various isses of financial literacy, you can "earn" badges. I've gone through several of the modules already, and I am impressed with how easy, accessible, and engaging the information is. For example, the module about risks and rewards would be perfect for the unit I'm teaching this month on Paulo Cohelo's The Alchemist. I do a variety of exercises in which I ask students to imagine their future and question the things they value, including those "things" they would be willing to sacrifice, and those they can't live without. They key is for students to be thoughtful, reflective, and knowledgeable about life - and insight into financial literacy is a key to a successful life. The piece about risk and reward reminded me of the game-based research I did in making the decision to move to Colorado - and that ultimately allowed me to find my spot. I feel the same way about the module called "What's the Plan?" Because, let's face it, we all need a plan.

So, as Friday's tax day comes and goes, consider the value of financial literacy.

* NOTE: This is a sponsored post in partnership with PwCCharitable Foundation - all opinions are my own.

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