Financial literacy for kids is finally getting attention: Bill Reynolds – cleveland.com

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Teens from Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio have been using a financial literacy program called Money Matters for nearly 20 years. (Photo Courtesy of BGCNEO)
Guest columnist Bill Reynolds is chief financial and administrative officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin Wallace University and a master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University.
He calls it the “$100 Bill Challenge.”
Financial literacy advocate and author Mac Gardner recently told CNBC that he shows elementary school children a $100 bill and asks them what they would do with it. Nine out of 10 say they would use it to buy something — bypassing the options of saving, investing or giving it away.
That is not surprising.
Most kids learn early that money is for consumption — and that lesson carries into adulthood. That is why it is encouraging to see that the Ohio Legislature recently enacted a new law mandating that all public high school students in the state take a half-credit, standalone personal finance course before they graduate.
The first group of students affected by this requirement are those who will be entering ninth grade in 2022. Ohio is the largest state to enact such a law.
Our children should not enter the adult world without a working knowledge of how to budget, save for major purchases, use credit cards responsibly, understand taxes and plan for emergencies.
And parents seem to agree.
In the Charles Schwab Financial Literacy Survey conducted by The Harris Poll, two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. adults chose financial education as the most important supplementary graduation requirement to math, English and science, compared to 43 percent who chose health and wellness education.
The survey also found that 89 percent of Americans believe a lack of financial literacy leads to social issues.
And when asked what they would teach their younger selves about personal finance based on what they know today, Americans said the value of saving money (59 percent), basic money management (52 percent), and how to set financial goals and work toward them (51 percent)
At our organization, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio, a program called Money Matters has been teaching financial literacy to teens for nearly 20 years. The program, created and funded by the Charles Schwab Foundation, discusses saving money, planning for big purchases and avoiding bank fees; planning to live independently, including budgeting; understanding all aspects of credit scores; purchasing a car; saving for retirement; and reading a paycheck.
Our teens also periodically take part in an aspect of the program called Reality Store, an interactive experience in which they learn how the choices they make regarding career, managing income and expenses, and saving and investing will affect future outcomes.
To start, teens draw a salary based on a specific career and manage basic living expenses for themselves and a family. They envision the lifestyle they would like to have in their late 20s, explore a career, receive a checking account “deposit” equal to one month’s salary and spend their salary in the Reality Store on necessities and extras.
They also handle some of life’s unexpected events and discover whether their occupation provides the financial resources needed in order to sustain the lifestyle they want.
Ohio’s law making financial literacy coursework a requirement for graduation is a good step forward. The leap will come when kids who are savvy money managers become financially responsible adults.
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Teens from Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio have been using a financial literacy program called Money Matters for nearly 20 years. (Photo Courtesy of BGCNEO)Guest columnist Bill Reynolds is chief financial and administrative officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin Wallace University and a…

Teens from Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio have been using a financial literacy program called Money Matters for nearly 20 years. (Photo Courtesy of BGCNEO)Guest columnist Bill Reynolds is chief financial and administrative officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin Wallace University and a…

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