As a teacher, part of your job is to help students map their futures — whether mapping their way through the rest of the school day, into college, or into a career. Teaching personal finance or financial literacy can also include helping students map out their money journeys.
Think about it: Don’t you wish you could go back and map out your financial plan or life at an earlier age? It’d probably help us all in one way or another. For that reason, it can be helpful to start instilling the idea that managing money, and learning about it, is a lifelong journey. It’s more of a “Lord of the Rings” type of thing than a “Step Brothers,” if you were to compare it to movies.
So, how can you do that? How can you help your students map out their money journeys? Using resources from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it can be a fairly simple exercise that can produce big, if hard-to-quantify, results.
Again, the main idea here is to really drive home the central point: Managing money and becoming financially literate is not a one-day task. You don’t attend a single workshop and have all the skills and knowledge you need. Instead, it’s going to be a slow and incremental process. You’ll learn as you go. You’ll develop skills as needed. Some people will go their whole lives without ever using certain financial services or products — but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t at least map those products out in their plans, just in case!
Begin by asking a couple of key questions:
- What money skills and knowledge do you currently possess?
- And what can you be doing right now to manage your money better or more efficiently?
To get a grasp of these questions, the CFPB publishes a 30-question survey that students in grades 9-12 can work their way through (and their answers will remain private).
Have your students work their way through the questions. Then, decide how or if you want them to share the results with you. Again, we’re marking a starting point so that we can map out a money journey, so there aren’t any wrong answers. We’re simply calibrating our compass!
Make that clear to them. This is an exercise to figure out where you are on your money map. Using your “coordinates,” you can then chart your course. Remember, this is simply taking a first small step as a part of a much larger journey. There’s no right or wrong, correct or incorrect.
All of your students are going to be making the journey together, too, for some time. Be sure to remind them that they’re not alone!
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And check out our white paper: “Strategies for Increasing Financial Literacy Rates Among High School and College Students”
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