April is National Financial Literacy Month, and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) encourages parents to use this opportunity to teach their children the importance of financial literacy. IBAT recently announced the three recipients of its Teaching Excellence in Financial Literacy Award—Skylar Houston from Sweetwater High School, Lynn Scotty from Utopia High School and Linda Comer from Wellington High School. Listed below are tips used by these teachers that can also be applied in the home to ensure children have the foundation necessary to make sound financial decisions for the rest of their lives.
1. It all starts with a budget. Encourage students to write down their income from all odd jobs and their daily expenses for a month. This is a useful exercise that allows for the creation a budget.
2. Invite compelling experts to speak. Ask local community bankers, insurance agents and investment advisors to address your classes and share their positive and negative personal experiences in learning about money management.
3. Show stories of financial pitfalls and financial wins. Use personal stories or current news articles that show the real world dangers that can occur with credit card usage, personal investment schemes and student loans. The documentary “Maxed Out” is helpful to watch with students.
4. Be relevant or be forgotten. Select financial stories and examples that connect to students—personal budgeting, car expenses (gas, insurance and repairs), rent for an apartment or house, checking and savings accounts, college student loans and health and rental insurance.
5. Help students connect the dots. Build awareness of the connection between career choices and salary expectations. To capture student interest, let them each select a job and research the starting salary. Then ask them to use this information to create a budget that includes rent, car payment, weekly food shopping, credit card bills, entertainment and insurance. Also ask them to figure out how their savings account will grow with monthly deposits.
6. Encourage values. Teach your students the importance of living within their means, paying bills on time, never paying interest on a credit card, reading the fine print on student loans and choosing their career as if their life depended on it
7. Teach pay stub smarts. Help students understand their first pay check—from base salary to take-home pay. Illustrate the concepts of compounding interest on a loan for a home, vehicle, credit card or student loan. Walk them through the adjustments for payroll taxes and other dedications to calculate their projected net income.
8. Build a financial tool kit. Empower students to create their own financial tool kit. It could include budgeting, banking and insurance templates; savings and checking account applications; step-by-step instructions about applying for a bank loan, student loan or pay day loan; credit card application (highlight the fine print to see the warnings about late payments); list of financial professionals who can provide assistance; and a list of online resources.
Formed in 1974, the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) represents Texas community banks. The Austin-based group is the largest state community banking organization in the nation, with membership comprised of more than 2,000 banks and branches in 700 Texas communities. Providing safe and responsible financial services to all Texans, IBAT member bank assets range in size from $10 million to $20 billion with combined assets statewide of nearly $165 billion. IBAT member banks are committed to supporting and investing in their local communities.