Financial Literacy Skills Last a Lifetime

01 March, 2015

Math is an important part of every American's education. How to use math for planning a budget or managing money, however, is not often in the curriculum.

Some schools are starting to provide this training. Charles H. Flowers High School in Maryland has a financial literacy program that is designed to give young people money skills that will last a lifetime.

"Today I want you to take out a sheet of paper and think about what is a budget."

Students in the class are dealing with numbers, but they are not studying math. They are learning basic, important information about finances, with their teacher Camilla Pea.

Financial Literacy Skills Last a Lifetime
Students attend a financial literacy class at Charles H. Flowers High School in the state of Maryland.

"Many students choose to take this class because they see understanding about financial literacy can change their future."

One of the most important lessons is how to save money and make better financial decisions.

Ms. Pea says teaching money management to teenagers calls for creative methods. She says she wants to keep the class interesting.

"This is an adult concept. So sometimes you need to pull them in a little bit more. They don't want anyone to stand in front of them and lecture them for an hour and a half. They want something that's relatable. If they don't see the connection, you lost them."

In this class, kids learn how to set priorities and make better financial decisions. That, of course, is not always easy.

"So, (I'm) trying to get them to make choices about later, not so much about now. That's difficult because they see ‘now,' they don't really see the path of ‘later'."

Camilla Pea teaches her students about the financial mistakes many adults make. These are mistakes that can create a lot of debt. Balancing a checkbook is one basic task that can help young and old manage their money.

Another mistake has to do with credit. The students learn how paying only the minimum amount demanded by the bank will lead to debt balance increases. Most of her students now are able to recognize and avoid such actions.

Ms. Pea also advises her students to ask their parents how much they make and how they spend it. She says this helps make financial literacy becomes a part of their everyday life.

Camilla Pea introduced the money management program at Charles H. Flowers three years ago. Last November, the teacher was honored for her efforts. The nonprofit financial literacy organization Jump$tart named Camille Pea the Personal Finance Educator of the year.

I'm Mario Ritter.

VOA correspondent Faiza Elmasry reported this story from Washington, D.C. Mario Ritter wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

Curriculum-n. the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.

Literacy-n. the ability to read and write

Priorities-n. something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first

Minimum-n. the lowest number or amount that is possible or allowed — usually singular