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Iowans Feel Strongly About Teaching Financial Literacy to Their Children
7/7/2017

Since 2003, April has been designated “Financial Literacy Month” by the federal government, and for good reason. A survey conducted by the Iowa Credit Union League showed 68 percent of Iowans think it’s important for their children to learn the life skills that will set them up for financial success. However, studies consistently indicate Americans are generally not sufficiently educated about their personal finances.

While the demand for financial literacy courses in high school is nationally apparent, the Council for Economic Education says only 17 states require students to take classes in personal finance.

In a survey by the National Financial Educators Council about which high school-level course would have benefited participants the most, 54.1 percent stated a money management class would have been the most useful.

Jaimie Miller, Executive Director of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF), said that teaching children financial literacy is important and should be a collaborative effort amongst parents, schools and financial institutions.

“I think it’s hard for parents and even teachers to educate children about finances,” said Miller. “There is an assumption that we as adults should know “everything” on financial topics. In reality it’s a challenging area for most and this is where a credit union can be a great resource. Talking about money with students doesn’t have to be complicated. The focus should be on simple lessons and building smart habits. Also, empower your student or child to understand the “real” value of the dollar by having them open a savings account with a local credit union or financial institution.”

Miller said it’s important to teach children and young adults to live within their means, and to prepare for emergencies so they won’t have to borrow money to get out of an unexpected situation. Students are entering college with very little experience managing finances and yet they are taking out significant debt to fund their education. These lessons are crucial in the success of our next generations.

ICUF is sponsoring the Money Smart READ program which is a part of Money Smart Week Iowa being held April 22-29. Kids in grades 3 to 5 are invited to select credit unions or libraries for a book reading and discussion on a money topic. Visit moneysmartweekiowa.com for more information.  

ICUF suggests the following tips and resources parents can leverage to put their children on the path to financial health:

  • Start now and involve the family — There is a lot of information to increase personal financial literacy that is appropriate for all ages and levels of wealth. Start now right where you are. Use age-appropriate activities, including games and challenges to make it fun for kids, and get the whole family better educated about finances.
  • Find a personal finance app — Using a personal finance app is an easy way to put money management at your fingertips and help you stay on track with your financial plans. There are many no- and low-cost apps available to help you budget, invest or pay bills automatically.  Check the user reviews to see what aligns best with what you’re looking for in a financial tool.
  • Take advantage of online resources — The U.S. government sponsors www.mymoney.gov and mycreditunion.gov, which is dedicated to teaching the basics about financial education, including topics like buying a home, balancing a checkbook or investing in a 401(k) plan.
  • Consult your financial institution — A credit union is a great source for information on financial education. Click here to find a credit union near you.


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