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Money Smart - A Financial Education Program

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Money Smart for Young Adults

The FDIC’s Money Smart for Young Adults curriculum helps youth ages 12-20 learn the basics of handling their money and finances, including how to create positive relationships with financial institutions. Equipping young people in their formative years with the basics of financial education can give them the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to manage their finances once they enter the real world.

Money Smart for Young Adults consists of eight instructor-led modules. Each module includes a fully scripted instructor guide, participant guide, and overhead slides. The materials also include an optional computer-based scenario that allows students to complete realistic exercises based on each module. The curriculum is distributed on CD: click here to order it.

Money Smart for Young Adults is:

  • Free;
  • Aligned with educational standards for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands, as well as Jump$tart financial education standards and National Council on Economic Education economic education standards;
  • Based on the award-winning Money Smart adult financial education curriculum that can bring proven results in the money management practices and financial confidence of graduates;
  • Offers a completely customizable curriculum comprised of modules that can be taught on a stand-alone basis;
  • Not protected by copyright restrictions; and
  • A source of unbiased information that is not “branded” with corporate logos or otherwise affiliated with any commercial interest.

Modules range from 90-110 minutes if taught in their entirety. However, the content is layered so that it can be taught in two (or more parts). To help an instructor tailor the modules to the needs of the audience, the front of each module includes a matrix or Layering Table to delineate the module’s components. The matrix will assist an instructor in presenting material responsive to the needs of your target audience within the available time frame.

A description of each of the eight modules follows:

Bank on It
an introduction to bank services

Check It Out
how to choose and keep a checking account

Setting Financial Goals
Money Management

Pay Yourself First
why you should save, save, save


Borrowing Basics
an introduction to credit

Charge It Right
how to make a credit card work for you

Paying for College and Cars
Installment Loans (i.e. car and student)

A Roof Over Your Head
informed decisions on apartments and mortgages


Potential Uses of Money Smart for Young Adults
The curriculum can be used by individuals who are seasoned, professional educators as well as informal educators (such as bank staff visiting a classroom). As with the adult curriculum, the materials are fully scripted so someone can pick up the instructor guides and begin teaching without having previous teaching experience or extensive subject matter expertise. In short, any instructor can easily pull quality, objective, instructor-led content from Money Smart for Young Adults to integrate into a class on subjects ranging from math or English. Uses for Money Smart for Young Adults include as:

  • Part of a required course;
  • Optional material for visiting/guest teachers;
  • A supplement to material in finance, economics, social studies, math, or business courses;
  • An after-school elective;
  • A school group or club project; or as
  • A workshop offered by organizations serving youth.

Money Smart News Success Stories of interest include:

Additional Information on the Computer-Based Scenarios
An optional computer-based interactive scenario is available for each module. Each of the scenarios takes the students through financial decisions that face young adults. As students complete each scenario, they are evaluating current knowledge or knowledge learned through the instructional materials and classroom activities. There are no right or wrong answers; students choose the best answer and then see how that decision has affected the characters' financial status. Each scenario takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. The files for the scenarios are included on the instructor-led CD for teachers to download to a network drive or to individual classroom computers.

Need for Youth Financial Education
Financial education enables young people to start positive habits early such as saving money and budgeting, as well as avoid making “wrong” decisions that could result in years of financial pain, such as incurring an unmanageable level of credit card debt. Demand has grown for a version of Money Smart to combat the lack of financial literacy skills among youth. Surveys indicate that a minority of surveyed teens understand how credit card interest and fees work, how to balance a checkbook, or know how to check the accuracy of a bank statement. Additionally, studies indicate that a sizeable majority of college students have at least one credit card, as well as have incurred several thousand dollars in credit card debt while in school. Fortunately, an opportunity exists to deliver critical information to a largely receptive audience, as a recent survey indicated that a large majority of surveyed teens are eager to learn more about how to manage and handle their money.

The curriculum is distributed on CD: click here to order it.

For questions or comments about the content or operation of the Money Smart for Young Adults CDs, please email communityaffairs@fdic.gov . For information on using the curriculum in your community, please contact your FDIC Community Affairs Officer.

Last Updated 08/12/2010 CommunityAffairs@fdic.gov