Make a dif­fer­ence by be­com­ing a fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tor

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Nathaniel Sillin Prac­ti­cal Money Skills

Teach­ing per­sonal fi­nance top­ics can be im­mensely re­ward­ing be­cause the lessons are of­ten im­me­di­ately ap­pli­ca­ble to many stu­dents’ lives. Whether you’re com­par­ing fi­nan­cial prod­ucts, cre­at­ing a bud­get or eval­u­at­ing the cost of a loan, fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy pro­vides the foun­da­tion to make a well-in­formed de­ci­sion. Even so, many peo­ple get lit­tle to no fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a study from the Coun­cil for Eco­nomic Ed­u­ca­tion, 45 states in­clude per­sonal fi­nance in their K-12 stan­dards, but only 17 states re­quire high school stu­dents to take a per­sonal fi­nance class be­fore grad­u­at­ing. Af­ter grade school, one might find fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses at col­leges, uni­ver­si­ties or em­ploy­ers, but they’re rarely re­quired.

If you have a pas­sion for fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy, con­sider pass­ing on your knowl­edge and help­ing your com­mu­nity change for the bet­ter. Whether you’re

vol­un­teer­ing at a grade school or teach­ing a course at a lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­ter, teach­ing money man­age­ment skills can help im­prove oth­ers’ fu­ture fi­nan­cial prospects and en­cour­ages com­mu­nity con­nec­tion and growth.

De­cide what to teach and take ad­van­tage of free re­sources. There are a wide range of lessons that stu­dents of dif­fer­ent ages and back­grounds will need, from in­for­ma­tive pre­sen­ta­tions for older adults who are tar­gets of scam­mers to lessons for high school stu­dents who need to learn how to han­dle fi­nances in

col­lege.

Pre­pare for your out­reach by iden­ti­fy­ing the fi­nan­cial top­ics you want to teach. You can draw from your own strengths and ex­pe­ri­ences, which can be an ef­fec­tive way to help stu­dents re­late to the lessons. How­ever, there are also free ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als you can use to de­sign your per­sonal fi­nance course.

The Fed­eral De­posit In­surance Cor­po­ra­tion (FDIC) has com­pre­hen­sive free cur­ric­ula for adults and young peo­ple in grades K–12, as well as a cur­ricu­lum tai­lored to the needs of older peo­ple. Visa’s Prac­ti­cal Money Skills also of­fers cur­ric­ula, les­son plans and ed­u­ca­tional games for stu­dents from Pre-K to col­lege, in­clud­ing those with spe­cial needs.

A sim­ple In­ter­net search can also turn up re­sults for any fi­nan­cial les­son imag­in­able.

Fo­cus on prac­ti­cal and in­ter­ac­tive lessons. In­cor­po­rat­ing in­ter­ac­tive el­e­ments into the mix can sup­ple­ment fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy cur­ricu­lum and help lessons come alive.

You want to give your lessons con­text and teach stu­dents how to ap­ply what they learn to real life sit­u­a­tions. For ex­am­ple, ex­plain­ing the im­por­tance of in­vest­ing for the fu­ture and the ben­e­fits of com­pound in­ter­est is a great start, but you could con­tinue your les­son by run­ning a stock mar­ket sim­u­la­tion that lets stu­dents prac­tice in­vest­ing with play money.

Games and apps can also make lessons mem­o­rable

and en­gag­ing. Younger chil­dren might ben­e­fit from phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties like di­vid­ing al­lowance into sav­ing, spend­ing and char­ity jars. Or, they can play fun on­line games that teach ba­sic lessons like rec­og­niz­ing and count­ing the value of coins.

What­ever topic you’re teach­ing, plan ev­ery les­son with your stu­dents in mind. Re­in­forc­ing the lessons with rel­e­vant ac­tiv­i­ties or even con­se­quences and re­wards can be ef­fec­tive.

Ex­plore vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties. If you’re un­sure of how to get started, con­sider look­ing for a vol­un­teer op­por­tu­nity with an es­tab­lished non­profit. Vol­un­teer­ing al­lows you to meet new peo­ple, give back to your com­mu­nity, make

new con­nec­tions and share knowl­edge that can have a last­ing im­pact. Some or­ga­ni­za­tions will train you and ask that you teach their own per­sonal fi­nance cur­ric­ula. Oth­ers may set guide­lines and let you work in­de­pen­dently within them.

The Cor­po­ra­tion for Na­tional & Com­mu­nity Ser­vice (CNCS) has a com­pre­hen­sive guide to learn­ing and teach­ing per­sonal fi­nance, as well as sev­eral help­ful re­sources. Look for vol­un­teer­ing po­si­tions in your area with the CNCS govern­ment search en­gine (Serve.gov), which al­lows you to fil­ter vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties by key­words and lo­ca­tion.

Bot­tom line: Whether you’re train­ing as a pro­fes­sional teacher or work­ing

as a vol­un­teer, teach­ing fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy is an ad­mirable way to pro­vide es­sen­tial knowl­edge to mem­bers of your com­mu­nity. Us­ing qual­ity re­sources and tools – and bring­ing your own ex­pe­ri­ence, pas­sion and per­spec­tive – can help el­e­vate stu­dents’ per­sonal fi­nance skills and make a pos­i­tive im­pact in your com­mu­nity.

This ar­ti­cle is in­tended to pro­vide general in­for­ma­tion and should not be con­sid­ered le­gal, tax or fi­nan­cial ad­vice. It’s al­ways a good idea to con­sult a tax or fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor for spe­cific in­for­ma­tion on how cer­tain laws ap­ply to your sit­u­a­tion and about your in­di­vid­ual fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion

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