The pandemic has ushered in many big financial stories: steep swings of the stock market, the largest unemployment numbers since the great depression, evictions, and government checks meant to offset the pain of the pandemic, just to name a few.
Many young people may be puzzled, and even alarmed, by what they have read or heard about the world of finance. They may wonder what it means to them and their families. Other students may have personal experience of the pandemic’s tragic financial effects.
Parents and teachers can lighten kids’ anxiety about money news and empower them by fostering their financial savvy. Many students won’t have a real job or begin earning much money before high school. But they should start thinking about the value of a dollar long before then.
The good news: Money is a topic of interest to just about everybody. For teachers, it’s a good one to start the year, end the year, or fill in on Fridays. Bring it up and students will pay attention, and discussing money can help them develop responsible saving and spending habits and learn to stretch a dollar.
Teachers might start a discussion about financial savvy with a short story related to the subject of money, such as O. Henry’s famous tale, “The Gift of the Magi.” The story illustrates the power and beauty of love, of course. But the usual analysis of character, setting, plot, and theme might be coupled with consideration of financial savvy.
- What is the cost versus the benefit of a purchase? (A small food budget versus making a loved one happy at the holiday, for example)
- How many hours/days might you have to work to pay for an item? (Such as the watch fob or hair comb) And, finally, can you find a better deal?
Can you find a better deal? This topic is an easy lead-in to figuring ways to get that best bang for a buck: checking out the Internet (or a magazine like Consumer Reports) to compare the cost/quality of different brands or noticing and comparing unit prices on a trip to the grocery store. Finding the best price is a great strategy for saving money and a good way to kick off a discussion of that important topic.