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Money Smart Week

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Everyone should know how to manage their money. Some would even say it’s more important to know how to manage money than it is how to make it! The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank took that to heart in 2002 when it brought together 40 Chicago-area financial institutions to promote personal financial literacy (PFL) in its first Money Smart Week. As this year’s Money Smart Week starts April 10 and runs through April 17, the effort has gone nationwide and encourages PFL for K-12 students.

Get Smart Virtually
Many schools have adopted a hybrid or an all-virtual model during the pandemic. As with all subjects, this has made teaching PFL a challenge. But two of the latest PFL resources are both virtual, both free to Wisconsin schools, and both accessible on Xello, Google Classroom, and other formats.

Money Path* is a financial planning program that uses real-world salaries and tuition to help students create a personalized plan. The program features side-by-side comparisons, and because students get access for life, they can update their plan as they grow and change.

Test Drive Digital* is a 100 percent virtual reality fair. Based on Royal Credit Union’s in-person reality fair, Test Drive has participants “earn” a monthly salary at age 25 based on their career plan and then manage it. Will they make it through the month? Maybe, but if they don’t, it won’t be a black mark on their real-world credit score.

Age-Appropriate Resources
Since 2017 when Wisconsin started requiring its schools to incorporate K-12 PFL curriculum, the search for effective, engaging resources has been ongoing. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has its own Personal Financial Literacy webpage with a link to several resources on WISELearn.

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions manages a “Look Forward to Your Future” site that aims to provide K-12 resources for all ages. Go to the page dedicated to resources for educators to get curriculum ideas arranged by grade level.

Wisconsin Standards Lead the Way
The DPI PFL page also links to the updated financial literacy standards. Introduced in June 2020, the new standards help schools and educators at all grade levels develop programs that establish sound financial habits. The standards feature six strands:

  • Education and employment
  • Money management
  • Saving and investing
  • Credit and debt
  • Risk management and insurance
  • Financial mindset

The addition of the financial mindset strand sets Wisconsin apart from other states and national personal financial literacy standards. It addresses the mental habits needed to address financial decisions successfully.

The object is to get started early. A University of Cambridge study showed that kids form their money habits by as young as seven years old, and that their observant eyes are usually watching when their parents make monetary transactions (Whitehead and Bingham 2013)**. With deliberate intention and training, we can give our students a financial head start.

*Provided for informational purposes only. This product is not sponsored by or affiliated with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction or the State of Wisconsin.

**Whitehead, David, and Bingham, Susan. “Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children.” (London: Cambridge University, May 2013.)