April Returns as Financial Literacy Month

After doing some research on Financial Literacy Month, I’ve concluded that this post may be a week late but it is still quite necessary. There simply isn’t much information out there other than the standard April-is-Financial-Literacy-Month article. That’s a good first step, but often these articles don’t provide any sort of information to improve a reader’s money management skills- just short bits to ‘increase awareness’. If this was a discussion on social media strategies, I’d say that this type of article doesn’t do enough to make the reader get to that next level of involvement; I digress. Without any further advocacy ado, I assure you April is Financial Literacy Month.

Sadly, a majority of us have not been taught how to manage our finances responsibly, which can lead to dangerous financial decisions. It was reported that in 2012, only 13 states required students to take a course on personal finance. Teaching the basics of financial literacy is vital to give low-income adults the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, especially considering that most of our adult learners have had less schooling than their credentialed counterparts, who themselves most likely have not received formal financial education lessons. That’s why financial literacy has been given its own month, because more needs to be done.

When it comes to being involved with a literacy-based organization, we all learn to work with what we’re given, and we learn to make it work. Naturally, the same can be said for incorporating financial literacy lessons for adult learners. As mentioned earlier, although you may have heard about Financial Literacy Month before, chances are you weren’t given any resources to help improve your money management skills. It becomes evident when searching for financial literacy resources targeted towards adult learners or ESOL students that this can be an even more challenging endeavor than searching for information accessible to the native speaker. So, to help you in your quest for financial literacy resources, I leave you with some resources for your perusal.

  • Financial Literacy Month by Money Management International Geared towards the apple pie loving American, this site provides daily steps towards becoming financially responsible complete with tons of resources from which to choose.
  • Financial Literacy Lesson Plans Want to know what to consider as you’re making a lesson plan for financial education? Check out this article for some insights.
  • Financial Literacy Lessons for ESL Students Here are some already created lessons for you to use with your adult learners, brought to you by San Diego Centers for Education & Technology.
  • Financial Literacy Video Games for Adult Learners Want to mix up your financial literacy lesson? Choose from “Taking a Bite Out of Debt and Spending” or “Rooting Out the Killer Bunnies” which your students can learn while they play a video game!

    *Warning- If you are a Vampire enthusiast, frustration may ensue from the former of the two games due to the flawed logic that Vampires would safely be able to transport to a “Day Club” without dying from the sunlight.*

  • Alley Wallet Wise The financial literacy program affiliated with Alley Bank offers free online courses which cover banking, budgeting, credit scores, and more.
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Phishing scams

A few years ago I got an email from a Nigerian business man saying that I had a great great uncle who was doing business with him and I needed to collect his inheritance of close to $5 million. All I needed to do was provide my checking account information. Most of us recognize that this is a scam, but on the other hand we probably think $5 million isn’t too shabby of a deal. The Nigerian letter scam is pretty well known ( it’s apparently the country’s 3rd largest export and scams 100s of people a day), but there are several other scams that get people on a daily basis. These are called phishing scams. So not only does a lesson on phishing and email scams play into a financial literacy lesson, but also a digital literacy for understanding trustworthy websites.

Here is some information on what you need to know about phishing scams from the National Consumers League:

How does phishing work?

  • The most common form of phishing is by email. Pretending to be from a legitimate retailer, bank, or government agency, the sender asks to “confirm” your personal information for some made-up reason. Typically, the email contains a link to a phony Web site that looks just like the real thing. You enter your personal information on the Web site — and send it into the hands of identity thieves.
  • Phishers also use the phone to hunt for victims’ personal information. Some pose as employers and call or send emails to people who have listed themselves on job search Web sites.

How can you tell if the person or company who contacted you is legitimate or a con artist?

  • Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly and asks for your personal information. It’s a warning sign that something is “phishy.” Legitimate companies and agencies don’t operate that way.
  • Don’t click on links in emails that ask you to provide personal information. To check whether an email or call is really from the company or agency, contact it directly by phone or online. If you don’t have the telephone number, get it from the phone book, directory assistance, or the Internet. Use a search engine to find the official Web site;
  • Job seekers should also verify the person’s identity before providing personal information to someone claiming to be a prospective employer.

What should you do if you got hooked by a phishing scam?

  • If you provided account numbers, PINs, or passwords to a phisher, notify the companies with which you have those accounts immediately.
  • Put a “fraud alert” on your files at the credit reporting bureaus. For information about how to do that and other advice for ID theft victims, contact the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft  Clearinghouse at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or toll-free, 877-438-4338. The TDD number is 202-326-2502.
  • Even if you didn’t get hooked, you should report phishing to company or agency that was being impersonated and to the National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, www.fraud.org or toll-free 800-876-7060. The TDD number is 202-835-0778.

For more information on scams or fraud related to literacy, check out our website! 

Financial Literacy and the Khan Academy

Do you ever feel like you aren’t the right person to teach financial literacy because you have many questions? I definitely feel that way. Luckily, Kahn Academy has videos to help answer the questions you don’t know how to. Watch these relatively short videos to learn more about topics that can help your students!

Intro to Interest: Simple vs. Compounded

What is inflation?

Renting vs. Buying a home (Heads up, he uses big numbers to make the math easier to understand)

Personal Bankruptcy

Creating a Financial Literacy Program: Being a VISTA and the Importance of Community Connections

Hank Hollins

I’m the AmeriCorps VISTA for the Literacy Council of Sarasota. For me, being a VISTA has been all about community connections. Having a plan about what I wanted to accomplish and sharing that plan with grant-makers and community leaders has led to a great financial literacy program. Now I’m there each week as the learners enjoy the resources which my service has helped provide. It’s extremely gratifying and fun to boot!

I had heard about the great success of programs which paired money management education with matched emergency savings programs. Financial education is combined with a free savings account and what the learner saves is matched up to a certain amount at the end. I decided that this was a combination with great appeal.

I first approached CredAbility (www.credability.org). They were very eager to help teach the workshops. As one community connection leads to another, my CredAbility representative passed along the name of a local Regions Bank associate she knew to be very involved in financial literacy and actively seeking non-profits to partner with. I talked to him, and he wanted to join us on this project: Regions would donate free savings accounts.

It was around this time I applied for my first grant. To my admitted surprise, I obtained a grant for the workshops portion of the program right out of the gate. The first grant I’d ever applied for! I was, however, only halfway there. The local foundation gave us money for the workshops but not the matching funds. I tried numerous things, calling local businesses and researching grants, exploring various ways of finding this money.

The connections I had already made, though, were where the solution lay. I reached out to my partner at Regions and asked if they might want to become more involved. He put me in touch with head of Community Affairs for the whole Tampa Bay region. We were both a little nervous, reaching so high up the chain of command, but it went wonderfully! He was very interested in our program, and Regions agreed to provide a $100 match to each of our learners for our twelve-week, twelve-class program. We were ready to go!

Now the classes are underway. The learners were given an introduction to banking during the first class, and learned the importance of setting financial goals the next. Next week, we will be covering the importance of paying yourself first. There will be classes on tracking expenses, budgeting, credit, investments, etc.

The classes are so much fun! We laugh and learn in the common room of one our Housing Authority complexes—yet another partnership—and I couldn’t be more satisfied. The most important part to me, though, was what I learned about community connections. I started with an idea and connected the dots between funders, community leaders, educators, and learners. In a way, I’m proud of this program as my own, but it really isn’t—it could go on without me. It belongs to the community.

Financial Literacy from FLC: Credit and Debt

Credit? Debit? Cash?

Do you think you spend less when you pay cash than you do when you use a credit card or debit card?  Research says you do.  What do you think?

I love this example from Ashley the Money Talks Coach: She says that the whole question can be answered with ice cream! Read this to get the idea and check out her whole blog on the subject. .

Ashley says:   You spend less when you pay cash and the reason has to do with ice cream.  Yeah, you heard right… ice cream.

I love a bowl of ice cream after the kids go to bed.  It’s one of my favorite luxuries.  However, when I indulge in this treat more than about once per week I gain weight.  I know this, yet I still do it.  Once or twice a year I will eat ice cream every night for two weeks straight and then cry when the scale reprimands me.

Why?

I do it because the consequence is too far away from the action.  I want ice cream and I get an immediate benefit (happiness) when I eat it.  Of course, for every action there is also a consequenceBut the consequence doesn’t come right away.  I don’t see the numbers on the scale move for a few weeks.  So right at that moment, when I’m standing in front of the freezer, ice cream scoop in hand, there is only the benefit on my mind.  I know someplace down deep that I’ll regret it later but at that moment all I can see is happiness.

Same goes for your purchases.  When you buy something you get an immediate benefit.  When you pay with a credit card you don’t feel the consequence of that action until the bill is due, some 30 days later.

What about debit cards?  While studies show that you will spend the most with credit cards, they say you still spend more with debit cards than you do with cash. .  So again, this consequence comes maybe 7 to 14 days after the benefit.

But with cash the consequence is immediateYou have $20 in your wallet and then you don’t.  You can’t put it out of your mind.  You can’t “work it out later”.  The money is spent and gone in one motion.  Certainly makes you think twice about that purchase.

Have you done this experiment yourself?  Do you spend less when you pay cash?

Thank you Ashley for the quick lesson!

Now check out the Lesson Plan #3 to help your students learn the language of Consumer Debit and Credit, and watch a couple of videos on how and why people use credit cards. 

SB Idea and Financial Literacy

Hello, my name is Adriana Alvarez and I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for S.B. Idea, Inc (SBI). SBI is a non-profit organization that runs family literacy academies in Palm Beach County, Florida with a mission to: “empower families academically and economically for self-sufficiency”.  April is not only Volunteer Month but also Financial Literacy Month and as a part of my yearlong service, I am implementing a financial literacy component into the family literacy curriculum.

Although I have no skills training with financial literacy, my parents instilled in me the importance of good financial habits, and how developing good financial habits can lead you to achieve various goals in your life, such as owning a home. Financial literacy is so important to the economic success of a family. I consider achieving the goal of implementing a financial literacy component as the most important of my VISTA commitments. In order to achieve this, I have helped SBI partner up with many useful resources in the community. SBI welcomed VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistant) representative and Senior Tax Consultant for the IRS, Shanana Bartolomei, into our academies to give a workshop on the importance of filing your taxes and how to get them filed for free.

SBI also partnered with PNC Bank, who is sending representatives to do a variety of workshops with our adult students as well as their children. PNC Bank currently runs a program titled “S” is for Savings”, in which PNC has partnered with Sesame Street to develop a child-friendly program in order to get children thinking about good financial habits, and to also get parents more involved in developing good financial habits with their children. I will be working closely with PNC representative from our local Lantana and Jog Branch to continue giving workshops on useful topics such as “How to get out of Debt”.

By the end of the school year I will assist our program mentor in giving an in-service workshop to our current teaching staff on how to implement financial literacy into their already existing curriculum. This will ensure that financial literacy becomes a staple in the learning achieved at the SBI family literacy academies.

As I have been experiencing this journey, I have found three easy and useful things everyone should consider when developing good financial habits:

1) Pay Yourself First. Having a savings account or an emergency fund can always help with life’s bumpy roads.
2) Know The Difference Between Needs And Wants. Understanding and accepting this difference makes developing good financial habits easier
3) The Power of Interest. Most financial institutions will stress the power of interest both negatively, when your paying interest on debt, and positively, when your earning money for doing nothing.

Financial Literacy at Marion County Literacy Council

We’ve taken a varied approach to deliver financial literacy information to our students at the Marion County Literacy Council.

Dmitriy Usher

The biggest component of our Financial Literacy plans is the wonderful curriculum and great volunteers provided by United Way of Marion County. The volunteers from UWMC all come from the financial sector. These individuals, having years of experience in all aspects of banking, are poised to help our students from the most basic issues, such as personal finance and budgeting, up to the more complex issues like managing ones credit or home loans.

These volunteers will conduct classes, open to everyone, at our office. We spread the word throughout the community using flyers, free print space in local papers, mass-emailing of contacts, word of mouth, and travel to various locations in the community to spread the word in-person.

In addition to stand-alone classes, we also integrate the financial literacy sessions into existing classes here at the Literacy Council. We allot a small portion of class time from our college & career coaching program for financial literacy instruction. After all, when someone lands a job, they will need to be able to manage their income, right?

We’ve also asked our financial literacy instructors to speak to our various ESOL classes. When time allows, the ESOL tutor will dedicate a portion of their class time.

Along the way, we’ve formed some fantastic partnerships with like-minded non-profits who also occupy our building. We do our best to make sure financial literacy tutors will be available to meet with their students whenever they have a class here.

Top Stories in Literacy: April 16

Top Stories in LiteracyTeach Your Children Well-April is Financial Literacy Month
M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group, is using Financial Literacy Month to provide consumers a fiscal education lesson each week. This week’s tip is how your children can learn while they earn.

Young man with autism appeals to Obama for college opportunity
Billy Perogi is 20, autistic, and about to graduate from high school in Naples, Fla. He wants to go to college more than anything. Every school he and his mother have contacted has told them there is no program available for his specialized needs.

Indian River Adult education offering home health aide program
Indian River State College is offering career workshops on becoming a home health aide, security officer, phlebotomist, a new practical nursing program and excel classes for adult education students.

Job-seeking Collier County adults are back in class to catch up to computer skills
Fort Myers residents are among a growing number of both employed and unemployed adults seeking to better their lives and improve their current and future job marketability by going back to school for refresher courses on fundamental computer skills most of today’s teenagers take for granted.

Adult Learning Not Increasing With Internet Availability
Adults who are out of school are not necessarily active learners, for a number of reasons. With the growth of the Internet though, many hope that adults may use the technology available to them for some informal learning.

Happy Financial Literacy Month from FLC pt. 2

Lesson Plan 2
I’m no expert on matters having to do with money, but I know where to find one! Check out the blog written by Ashley, at the money talks coaching website and you will start to sound like a pro too!

Making lesson plans for budgeting? Ashley calls “budget”  it the four letter word of personal finance.  I am such an avoider on the subject of money that I rarely use that nasty word.  It does not always work out however, and I have learned that just having a feeling that there is enough money to cover the bills does not trump logic and down to earth money management.   So here are some tips from Ashley’s budget blog  and some tools from the Florida Council on Economic Education to put some muscle on those boney budgets.

Florida Council on Economic Education Worksheets on Budgeting

VISTA, Financial Literacy, and Manatee Reads!

Verna Urbanski

I am an Americorp VISTA volunteer with Manatee Reads! formerly The Literacy Council of Manatee County. I’m originally from Western Massachusetts, and when we came to Florida, we became exposed to a wide diversity of cultures and food. After my husband passed away, I heard that volunteering combats depression.  I was still working, and work was ok, but boy, when the weekends came, I found I couldn’t wait for Monday again. I had no purpose. Someone suggested the literacy council, and I thought why not, I could teach someone to read. I mean, all I had to do was give my time. So I signed up. I had volunteered before, but this time I was going to be my own boss and volunteer on my terms, weekends only!  You know how they say, “things happen for a reason”; well, they were looking for just what I had to offer. Fancy that!  After meeting with the director and going through the training, I was hooked. I could tutor right before NASCAR racing, or just before NFL kickoff. It turned out that what helped me was helping to make a difference in other peoples’ lives and in the community.

I had been tutoring for over two years when I lost my job. Not being too computer savvy, I called in my volunteer hours, as required, and right away the director asked “How are you” and I replied “Unemployed”.  Again, “things happen for a reason”.  She then proceeded to tell me about the summer VISTA position at the literacy council that I was selected for. While I couldn’t tutor students as a part of my VISTA position, (as VISTA does not allow for direct service) but I was growing again, learning new things, meeting people from all over (and getting new recipes too)! I thought I’d only do this for the summer while I searched for a new job, but the opportunities were dwindling and soon panic was setting in. When the organization was approved for a full-year VISTA, they asked me to stay and I did.

I’ve learned so much in this assignment, such as new computer skills, tweeting, and just think this will be my first blog post! I’ve also learned how to apply and prepare for writing grants for the financial programs. I’ve gained confidence in my ability to network with people that support Manatee Reads! and VISTA’s common interests. I reached out to CredAbility and spoke to them about helping us present a workshop on budgeting.  By exposing our needs and their services, when an opportunity arose, CredAbility immediately thought of us. Through my reaching out to them, they were able to partner with us to provide workshops to our students free of charge.

April is Volunteer Month, so get up, get out, be active and volunteer to make a difference in people and your community. The rewards are immeasurable.