Thousands Benefit From Financial Literacy Events

July 2, 2015
By William Reid, Intern

Teach Children to Save Event

Teach Children to Save, an annual financial literacy program for elementary school students, provides age appropriate lessons which teach savings strategies.  Children are given physical tools, such as crayons and rulers, to further engage them in the concepts.

Similarly, during Money Smart Day, the adult equivalent of Teach Children to Save, many applicable financial tools were provided to adults to accompany the broad financial education they receive.

Both events are part of Money Smart Month, an annual series of financial literacy events for young people and individuals without access to financial tools. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City plays an active role in orchestrating activities all across the Tenth District.  In Kansas City alone this year 277 area organizations offered more than 1,200 events.

Money Smart Day

Providing resources in tandem with educating participants is intentional, and is the core of the broader Money Smart campaign, according to Gigi Wolf, Public Affairs, who leads the Bank’s Kansas City effort.

The two goals of the program are to increase awareness about the importance of financial literacy and to put resources and tools relating to financial capability into the hands of consumers of all ages, she said. These can have a positive impact on their choices when it comes to money management.

Money Smart Day employs this education-empowerment model, said Wolf, adding that the event is a one-stop shop for financial literacy resources and information for adults. Offering concurrent financial education sessions on a variety of topics.

Money Smart Day, organized by the Kansas City Fed and presented in the downtown Kansas City Public Library, offers sessions on a variety of financial literacy topics, including basic budgeting, saving, investing, retirement and housing assistance.

The programming utilizes resources and tools to complement the educational sessions. “We have community partners available to help consumers read and understand their credit reports and how they can improve different parts of the report,” Wolf said about Money Smart Day.

The Money Smart campaign is intentionally sequential. Because many schools lack financial literacy courses, it is important for initiatives like Money Smart to be structured in a progressive nature— as people grow older, it is most effective for their financial education to build, rather than only be piled on when it comes time to buy a home or plan for retirement.

“The younger the better,” Wolf said, referring to the age of people who should receive a financial education. “They will then have a longer time to put these skills to practice.”

Throughout April, Kansas City area children received literature-based lessons about saving and money management through Teach Children to Save, a national initiative started by the American Bankers Association.

About 9,100 students in kindergarten through third grade learned about many other topics such as the role of money in exchanging goods and services, the benefits of saving money in a bank and the opportunity costs of choices through lessons designed to complement the respective curriculum of each grade. Lessons are crafted around narratives that teach sound financial practices and encourage students to learn the consequences associated with personal finance.

In 2014, financial education targeting high school students became part of Money Smart Month. The Junior Achievement curriculum taught students personal finance during in-class sessions. This curriculum fills a gap Wolf sees in high school education.

“There is definitely a need for financial literacy in high school,” she said. “You can tell by increasing debt rates and decreasing saving rates that there is a need among consumers."

Personal finance lessons applicable to young people are extended during Money Smart Day, where college saving advice is provided to both parents and students.

While the adult-oriented events of Money Smart Month are applicable to a wide demographic of people, one goal is to reach people who have limited access to financial services or information, Wolf said. About a quarter of adult attendees had incomes of less than $20,000. For some participants, Money Smart Month is a primary opportunity to receive financial education.

About the author

William Reid is currently an Analyst Intern in Business Solutions Delivery. He is a senior at Georgetown University studying finance and economics, with aspirations to pursue a career in financial regulation or policy work. His interests include reading, traveling, cycling, and camping.