April is Financial Literacy for Youth Month (so proclaimed by the U.S. Congress in 2003. One wonders if Tax Day is intentionally related...). Certainly Americans' dismal savings rate (2.6 percent of gross national income, according to the Federal Reserve) and lagging retirement planning suggests we need to begin financial planning when people are young!
Enter Goddard Middle School (Littleton, CO) teacher Mary O'Neil, who teaches saving and investing through a program called the "Stock Market Experience," produced by the non-profit Colorado Council for Economic Education (www.ccee.net), which notes "30 percent of consumers report having no extra cash."
"If they had taken my class, they would have learned that you need to have an emergency fund, and they better not be investing if they're carrying a lot of credit card debt," says O'Neil, herself a risk-averse minimal investor.
In her class's real-time, online simulation game, they're working with $100,000.00. "It's tough getting them to invest now. They say, 'You told us to save!'"
Central to the ongoing, year round campaign for money smarts is teacher training, and O'Neil is very high on the level of instruction, information and support the CCEE provides free to teachers. "I've taken a lot of classes and you get background information from top-notch instructors, including local and international college professors and classroom experts."