As a teacher, you have a huge impact on your students’ lives. Whether you’re encouraging them to chase their biggest dreams, helping them decide which colleges to tour, or dealing with a geometry-induced meltdown, you’re a lifeline for your students—whether you know it or not. And if you teach a personal finance class or incorporate financial principles into your lesson plans, you’re also engaging students in one of the most important education trends to date—financial literacy.
Knowledge really is power when we’re talking about money. And when students learn the skills they need to handle real-world financial situations, they can face the future with confidence.
Here are just a few ways financial literacy can bring hope to young lives.
What is Financial Literacy?
First, let’s define our terms.
Have you ever said, “I wish I’d known this in high school,” after you learned something (maybe the hard way) as an adult? We can help teens avoid this feeling when it comes to money by teaching them financial literacy.
Are you a teacher? Help your students win with money today!
Financial literacy is just a fancy term for money knowledge. A good personal finance class will teach students important money skills like budgeting, avoiding debt, saving, paying cash, investing and giving. It helps students avoid painful money mistakes and learn good money habits early!
Financial Literacy Eases Anxiety
You know that stressful feeling you get when you lack the confidence or knowledge to handle a big situation? Your stomach drops when you think about it, and the fear of the unknown looms over you like a storm cloud. That’s how high school student Margaret felt before she was introduced to our Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum. “I’ve always suffered from horrible anxiety,” she explained. “The thoughts of becoming an adult, paying for college, and supporting myself while living alone are thoughts that keep me up at night.”
Many students feel just like that when they think about anything money-related, whether it’s not knowing how much to save or not being able to pay for college. Maybe you deal with financial anxiety as well.
There’s good news! Knowing the truth about money clears up a lot of money myths. Margaret learned that concepts like budgeting or investing may seem intimidating, but they aren’t so scary after all. “With what I’ve learned in [personal] finance class, I no longer fear those things as I once did. I feel more prepared for my future now,” she said.
Financial Literacy Brings Freedom from Debt
Before Samantha took a high school personal finance class that used our Foundations curriculum, she’d never talked with her parents about how she’d pay for college. “I’d never heard of the idea that I could pay cash for college because I thought student loans just came with a degree. It blows my mind what a common misconception that is,” she admitted.
As a teacher, one of the greatest gifts you can give your students is teaching them how to stay far, far away from debt. Student loan debt is causing adults to delay important life events like getting married, saving for retirement, or buying a home.1 Like most grown-ups, many students think if they want a degree, a car or anything of value, they’ll have to buy it with money they don’t have.
Mariam, a high school senior, said, “I never believed there was a way to go to college without being in debt.” But with the right personal finance education, she learned about other options that won’t weigh her down with monthly payments for years to come. “Now I know I can apply for scholarships and use financial aid to get me through college,” she added.
Students who’ve taken a personal finance course like Mariam and Samantha are 23% less likely to plan to use loans to pay for college.2 That’s a real, measurable difference showing how teachers like you can prepare students for the real world!
Financial Literacy Extends Beyond the Student
“My parents are not in the best financial spot,” explained Adam, another high schooler using our Foundations curriculum. Unfortunately, even parents can fall victim to the marketing schemes of credit card companies that pretend to have their best interest at heart. With more than $14.5 trillion in household debt in America right now, it’s no secret that many families view credit cards and loans as a way of life.3
But when the kids in those families learn how money really works, they often end up showing their parents the right way to handle money. “My mom knows that I am taking this course and has actually come to me, her 14-year-old son, asking questions about what she should do,” Adam said. “She has had me explain a few principles to her, such as the debt snowball.”
When Nadia shared with her parents what she’d been learning in class, it gave them just the wake-up call they needed. She said, “They started to remember the things they’ve heard for years, like creating a monthly budget.” Now she believes her family will finally be able to make financial progress: “We will no longer feel like we are standing still when it comes to money.”
Financial Literacy Brings Possibilities
Once students are equipped and empowered to deal with money, they’re free to pursue big dreams and make a plan to bring them to life. They can pay cash for a car, get a debt-free degree, grow their emergency fund, or start their own business!
They can even start investing and building wealth while they have time on their side. Foundations student Savannah said, “I can see myself being debt-free—and eventually a millionaire!” When students are equipped with the knowledge of how to be smart with money, the possibilities are endless!
Annie, who’s also in a personal finance class, told us that our Foundations curriculum made her realize she can actually reach all her goals and do it without debt. “Because of the principles taught in this class, I can look forward to a happy and successful future,” she said.
That sounds a lot like hope to us!
There will always be financial ups and downs in life, but with the skills and knowledge you can give your students through curriculum like Ramsey Education’s Foundations in Personal Finance—plus the general wisdom you give them every day as their teacher—they’ll be able to face whatever comes their way.