Monthly Archives: March 2015


Activity Idea: Call-In With Your Questions

Listening to this call-in show about financial literacy got me thinking about ways to replicate this in the classroom.  Here is one idea on how you might set this up:

  1. All students write down 1-2 personal finance questions that they have that are relevant to their lives.
  2. Collect all the questions and find the 6-7 questions that are most prevalent.
  3. Assign one of these 6-7 questions to each student so in a class of 21, there might be 3 students trying to answer the same question.
  4. Students research answers to the questions.
  5. Simulate talk show and have a student come up to the front of the class and answer the question that they had to answer.  You can read the question to them to simulate the call-in feature.
  6. The rest of the class is ready to discuss the answer in a conversation facilitated by you.

Good luck!

By |March 31st, 2015|Activity, Audio Resource, Personal Finance|

What Percentage of Americans Have an Emergency Fund? Are Saving for Retirement?

Answer:  63%

From USA Today:

Questions to stimulate classroom discussion:

  • What do you think is an appropriate headline for the pie chart?  For the bar chart?
  • In looking at the percentage of each age group saving for retirement, which group would benefit the most from the impact of compound interest?
  • What is the appropriate size of an emergency fund?  Why do you think an emergency fund is important?
  • Aside from personal savings for retirement, what are other income sources for people in retirement?

Chart of the Week: Is It Easy To Get A Loan?

From Quartz:


Interesting chart showing rejection rates by loan type over the past 18 months.  It provides an effective way to show the difference between secured (mortgage and auto loans) and unsecured loans (credit cards) and why lenders think differently about them.  Here are a few questions to ask students:

1.  What loans have the lowest rejection rates (rejection means the lender says “no”)?  Why do you think this is the case?

2.  What loans have the highest rejection rates (are the hardest to get)?  Why do you think this is true?

3.  Why do you think it is harder to get a credit card increase than it is to get a credit card?

How Many of These Credit Card Myths Do Your Students Believe?

Before kicking off your credit card unit, see how many of these myths your students believe.   Put these six statements on a handout and ask students to answer TRUE or FALSE (from Christian Science Monitor):  

  1. Credit cards are dangerous and should be avoided.
  2. Credit cards are for purchasing things you can’t afford to buy otherwise.
  3. Credit card debt is not that urgent.
  4. Checking your credit score lowers your credit score.
  5. There is no penalty for maxing out your card.
  6. Opening many accounts will help your credit score.

This should lead to some good discussions and will quickly show you student perceptions.  I think #1 will probably me the statement that generates the most discussion as students who have seen or heard of parents/relatives/friends have problems with their credit cards would rationally assume that they are dangerous.  The big caveat to #1 is that they are not dangerous…IF used responsibly and only the individual can know whether or not they have the right mindset.

By |March 31st, 2015|Activity, Credit Cards, Credit Scores, Question of the Day|

The Relationship between Bonds, Interest Rates, and #NationalReadingMonth

It’s here — my final day of blogging about nonfiction personal finance readings for #NationalReadingMonth. It’s been a fun intro to blogging for me, and I succeeded in posting on 14 of the 19 days since I put the plan into action. Busy work + busy home life meant I missed a few chances. Anyway,  today, on my final day, I feature…

Relationship between Bonds & Interest Rates

I know what you’re thinking: Why on earth did she choose the driest topic imaginable for her last post?

What is it? This is actually an info page for potential Wells Fargo Advantage Funds investors, but it concisely describes the relationship between interest rates and bond prices — a concept for which it’s nearly impossible to find resources appropriate for a high school audience. It’s got lots of bond vocabulary and includes an inverse relationship graph.

Why is it cool? As I mentioned, the bond lesson was the hardest to find high school level resources for, and many articles take you way too deep in the woods for a basic understanding. On the other hand, this idea of bond prices and interest rates is fundamental to understanding the bond market, so it’s gotta be in the curriculum.


By |March 31st, 2015|Article, Investing, Personal Finance|

Before You Sign Up for That New Checking Account That Your College is Recommending…

From Center for Responsible Lending:

Some colleges and banks enter into exclusive agreements to offer students checking accounts – usually these accounts come furnished with a debit card that prominently displays the school logo and can sometimes be used as student ID.

For banks, these exclusive agreements mean a captive audience for their bank products (checking accounts, credit card accounts) and usually a customer for life. Studies suggest that banks are a “sticky” product – once a consumer chooses one, they’re unlikely to change.

For colleges, these exclusive agreements mean increased revenue. These partnerships may include revenue sharing (based on the number of accounts opened by their students) and/or in-kind benefits (like the bank offering to manage the school’s financial aid disbursement).

The benefits to students are unclear at best. Some schools negotiate for some reductions in up-front costs (like waiving monthly maintenance fees), but – as this report shows – many of these accounts do not have better terms than what a student could find on their own.


Check out the NGPF Lesson on Selecting a Checking Account


By |March 31st, 2015|Personal Finance|

Pay your credit card on time!!! But what if you don’t?

OK, #1 rule is pay all your bills on time. I mean, I guess you could argue that there are other more important rules, but I’d say “Pay all your bills on time” has to be pretty far up on everyone’s list. But what happens if you do, indeed, miss a credit card payment?

What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Credit Cards?

What is it? This somewhat lengthy article walks you through every subsequent consequence of not paying your credit card bill on time, starting with what to do if you can’t make an on-time payment to what happens if you’re many years into your delinquency. It’s the full spectrum.

Why is it cool? This could potentially be a pretty dry subject, but the author keeps it light and makes it a quick read, even though there’s a lot of detail. It’s very informative and uses great vocab from a credit card/credit score unit perspective.

Questions I Might Ask:

Honestly, there are a ton of comprehension questions you could ask from this article, and it shouldn’t take you long to go through, in order, crafting questions. But, I think a cooler idea to make sure students understand what they’re reading would be to

Once You’ve Earned a Scholarship, You’ve Got to Keep It!

Happy Friday, everyone. National Reading Month (March) is winding down in favor of April, which is Financial Literacy Month! WOOT WOOT! It’s about to be our month!!! Until then, here’s another highlight from our huge collection of nonfiction articles…

Mistakes That Will Cost You a College Scholarship

What is it? Time magazine article about three problems to avoid once you’ve got a college scholarship so you can be sure to keep the college scholarship.

Why is it cool? In putting together our Paying for College unit, we found tons of websites devoted to the how to get a scholarship, but there are far fewer on how to keep a scholarship. While this article’s perhaps a bit longer than it really needed to be, it addresses an important topic if students want to keep themselves funded for all four (or five… or six…) years of undergrad.

Questions I Might Ask:

  1. Let’s Think About the Math
    • The article says 59% of freshmen receive some form of grant or scholarship, but 25% of freshmen receive some sort of merit-based scholarship from their college each year. Why are those two numbers different?
    • The article also says 25% of freshmen receive merit-based scholarships, but only 20% of non-freshmen receive them. Why are those two
By |March 27th, 2015|Article, Paying for College, Personal Finance, Student Loans|