Monthly Archives: May 2015


Audio Resource: How Does Gen Z Think About Money And College?

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Marketplace interviewed four college seniors who are older members of Generation Z (who were in middle school during the Great Recession) to get their perspectives on money, the economy and paying for college.  The audio resource is six minutes long and provides short answer snippets to the questions listed below.

Prior to listening to the audio recording, It might be interesting to have your students do a pair-share choosing three of these questions so they can see how their perspectives are similar/different to the students interviewed:

  • Do you trust the economy?
  • Are you saving for college?  How are you accomplishing this?
  • How much of a priority is money in your life?
  • What do you spend your money on?
  • What is your biggest fear as you think about your post-college career?
  • How well do you understand how you are going to pay for college?

What A Gift!

Occasionally, you come across a story that restores your faith in humanity…this is one of them:

From WMUR (video also available):

The graduating class at Profile Junior-Senior High School in Bethlehem made a heartfelt decision to give the money raised for their senior class trip to the school’s principal, who was recently diagnosed with cancer…The gift comes less than a week after Vashaw told them she had been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. After four years of hard work, the senior class gave her nearly $8,000 for medical care…“It is very hard for me to accept help, and I have no idea what to say to you,” said Vashaw. “She’s just very caring, very selfless, and we wanted to be selfless, too,” said Baker.

Discussion prompts:

Use this story as an opportunity to ask your students to reflect on what makes a meaningful gift and why this one stands out in their minds. You might also ask them what has been the most meaningful gift that they have received and given to someone else.

By |May 31st, 2015|Current Events, Generosity, Video Resource|

Debit or Credit? How Do Americans Pay For Things?


Source: Bankrate

Ask students to analyze the chart and come up with at least three takeaways.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Over the last 10 years, Americans have made a dramatic shift by increasing usage of debit cards and decreasing credit card usage.  Over the past five years, there has been little change in their payment habits.
  • Prepaid cards (see our primer on prepaid cards here), while still only 4% of payments, has grown dramatically.
  • In terms of why payment patterns shifted in 2009, the recession likely had an impact as consumers felt less confident about the job market and slowed their usage of credit cards. In addition, banks likely made it more difficult to get a credit card as they saw their losses mount during this period.

Extension idea:  Ask students to compare the overall trends in the chart above with millenial payment patterns.  Here are few resources to get them started.

Why do they think their generation pays for things differently?


Check out this NGPF Activity on Picking A Payment Method

Chart of the Week: Student Loan Debt Balances By Age

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Source:  US News

Ask your students to come up with some takeaways after analyzing this chart.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Overall, student loan debt has more than tripled in the last 10 years from $346 billion to $1.15 trillion
  • The bulk of the student loan burden falls on those under 40 years old, although it would appear that about 1/3 of student loan debt is held by those over 40, beyond the age when most student debt should already be paid off.
  • Given how student debt seems prevalent even in the 50+ age range (a dramatic shift from 2004), it would seem that cohort of borrowers would be challenged in saving for retirement.
  • As for causes, a soft job market, reduced public investment in higher education and ongoing cost increases beyond rate of inflation have led to this student debt situation.

What Are People Reading on the NGPF Blog: Top 10 Posts for May 2015

It was a record month for the NGPF Blog, with visitors and page views increasing by over 300%!  Here is what personal finance educators were reading:

#10: Activity Idea:  Plan That $1,600 Summer Vacation

#9: What If the NBA Legend Who Allegedly Blew Through $154 Million Had A Savings Plan?

#8: 50 Ways To Swipe Your Credit Card or Debit Card Numbers (Apologies to Paul Simon)

#7: Why Every Student Needs To Complete A Financial Plan Before Entering College

#6: You Ain’t Saved Nothing Yet: A Credit Card Classic Rock Parody

#5: Question: What Percentage of Americans Have Less Than $400 In An Emergency Fund?

#4: Next Gen Personal Finance Announces Winners of Its 2015 Financial Literacy Month Contest

#3: A Searchable Database of NGPF Curated Videos

#2: Challenge Your Seniors With This NGPF College Budget Activity

And drumroll, please…

#1: Scared Straight Approach to Student Debt:  A Documentary Playlist (helped by its appearance in a NY Times article)

Activity Idea: How To Make Credit Scores Engaging!

Yes, it is possible!  I know that most personal finance teachers don’t look forward to teaching the concept of credit scores to their high school charges.  Most students have had no experience with them and may question the relevance of this topic.  As educators, we know how important it is to get ahead of this topic BEFORE students start to borrow and develop a credit history.

So, in order to engage students on credit scores we developed this two part inquiry based activity (Estimating a FICO Score AND Calculating the Cost of Bad Credit) that leads students through a four step process:

By |May 29th, 2015|Activity, Credit Reports, Credit Scores, Purchase Decisions|

Activity Idea: What Are You Complaining About?

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I stumbled upon this Complaint Database on the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) website and thought it would make a great activity for students while also increasing their “street smarts” regarding common complaints with financial service firms.

So, here’s an idea on how to create an activity using this database:

  • First, have students select a product.  Go to column titled Product, put cursor over Menu (right hand side of Product column) and click on it.  On drop-down menu, select Filter and choose one of Product categories.  Here’s a graphic:

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  • Here are product categories that they can choose from:
  1. Bank account or service
  2. Consumer loan
  3. Credit card
  4. Credit reporting
  5. Debt collections
  6. Money transfers
  7. Mortgage
  8. Other financial service
  9. Payday loans
  10. Prepaid card
  11. Student loan
  • Once they have selected a specific product (one of the 11 choices above; encourage them to choose one that they are familiar with) and they filter by that Product, they should eyeball the database and identify 3-4 of the most common issues that seem to arise with that product (see ISSUES column).
    • For example, if they filtered by Student Loans, they would see that “Can’t repay my loan” and

Schools In The News: This Month In Financial Literacy

  • Walter Cronkite had a passion for financial literacy.  A WAPO columnist plugs his curriculum here (Boston Globe):

There isn’t enough caution in the curriculum of financial literacy materials. But that’s not the case with courses developed by the FoolProof Foundation, an organization that was created with help from the late CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, who, I learned, had a passion for financial literacy. “We have to take financial literacy back from people who make money when we make financial mistakes,” said Remar Sutton, volunteer chairman of the FoolProof Foundation Walter Cronkite Project. Sutton is also a former Washington Post lifestyle columnist.

On the website, the foundation offers free online financial literacy lessons for students and individuals of all ages. In addition to the courses, you’ll find useful guides with short videos on various consumer finance topics, such as buying a car or avoiding the latest scams.

  • iGrad and University of Illinois have developed an online teacher certification program (eCampus News):

iGrad and the University of Illinois (UI) have launched a financial literacy instructor certification program, aimed at boosting instructor confidence in the subject. The online course will be led by Scott Johnson, Program Coordinator of the Illinois Online Network (ION),

By |May 29th, 2015|Current Events, Schools In News|