Education Solutions: Financial literacy for the family

Financial literacy. I can hear it now. The song that gets stuck in my head every time I think about this topic. The bass guitar walking through the opening notes and the echo trailing behind it. A smooth voice joining the bass guitar, “Money money money money, money.” The opening riffs to The O’Jays’ song, For the Love of Money, is a staple in my opening discussions around financial literacy.

NCFL Education Solutions

Financial literacy can be a difficult topic to tackle since it is such a personal one. When bringing it up in two-generation programming, it is essential to create a safe space where adults feel comfortable sharing their personal life experiences and asking questions. If your participants have had the opportunity to create bonds and are interested in learning about financial literacy, there are a few fun and engaging ways to talk about the subject.

1. Read a children’s book with a financial literacy lesson. What better way to start a conversation than by enjoying a story together? By reading a story and pulling out the important lessons, you can make tougher concepts more approachable. The story, depending on the book, can also demonstrate how ideas, such as want versus need, opportunity cost, etc., affect our everyday lives. Here are three recommendations to get you started:

  • Vera Williams, A Chair for My Mother. Grandma, mom, and daughter work together to save enough money to buy a much-needed easy chair for their home.
  • Judith Viorst, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday. Learn what happens when Alexander gets some money to spend.
  • Barbara S. Hazen, Tight Times. A story about a young boy, his family, and their experiences when dad loses his job.

2. Play a financial literacy game together. You can play a game with your families to open the conversation or put into practice a concept you have taken a deep dive into.

If your families love a good gaming app for their phones, look no further than Renegade Buggies! This app was put together by NCFL and Dollar General Literacy Foundation to help parents and children gain financial literacy skills together.

For families with teens, this card game is a hands-on way to talk about money. The ultimate goal of the game is to help players understand their spending habits and attitudes that affect their spending choices. Money Habitudes is endorsed by the Institute of Consumer Financial Education.

3. Take a field trip! There are several places participants can visit with their families to learn more about their spending habits or put their newfound knowledge into action.

  • A local bank or credit union

Schedule a time with your local bank or credit union to bring families in and have their questions about credit cards, credit scores, home loans, and more answered by experts in the community. This is also a great time for families to open savings accounts for themselves or their children if they are interested!

  • Simulated supermarket

If a trip into the community is not possible, fear not! You can take a trip within your very own classroom. Create a typical supermarket in your room with items from around the house. Have families “shop” in YOUR supermarket. After they are done shopping, participants can organize their items based on the concept you are trying to teach, such as want versus need, spending on a budget, and per-unit cost. For a fun twist, have the kids be the lead shoppers!

Although financial literacy is a difficult topic to tackle, it is not impossible. Creating a supportive environment and framing discussions in a fun and engaging manner makes all the difference. When your families are ready for the discussion, crank up that stereo and have a fun talking about “Money money money money, money!”