10 Ways to Make Financial Education Fun & Effective

Money. No matter how you look at it, on some level, you need it.

You need it for shelter. You need it for food. And you need it for a zillion other things that make life a little more convenient and enjoyable.

Whether you love it or despise it, it’s part of life and the sooner you learn how to make it, manage it and make it grow, the sooner you begin to enjoy its potential to fill your life with experiences that bring joy to you and those around you.

The ability to manage money wisely directly correlates to the ability to live independently and successfully, so it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of financial literacy curriculums available to empower children with the critical financial tools and information they need.

The challenge with most of those curriculums, though, is making them fun and effective.

Most financial literacy curriculums are flat out boring. They are missing the one component that makes them effective…a profoundly unique delivery method.

Key Component: The Delivery Method

We’ve all experienced exciting, mind-stimulating presentations that made learning fun and easy and we can all point to those that were boring and irrelevant that served as merely a means to catch up on doodling practice or missed sleep.

Creating a stimulating learning environment in which to teach financial education to kids and teens has its particular challenges.

Not only it is challenging to convince kids they need to know this information NOW but we’re teaching to generations of children who are used to being entertained.

Given these challenges, how DO you make financial education fun and effective for kids of any age? We’ve found the answer: use Accelerated Learning!

The Key to Teaching Financial Education: Accelerated Learning

Accelerated Learning (A.L.) is the most advanced teaching and learning method available today. It’s the most powerful tool available for speeding and enhancing both the design process and the learning process. Based on the latest brain research, it has proven again and again to increase the effectiveness of learning while saving time and money for the instructor.

Accelerated Learning, in a nutshell, is TEACHING to all three learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) USING all three learning styles and doing it in an environment that both enhances and encourages learning.

Effective Accelerated Learning techniques makes learning any kind of information fun, enjoyable and easy to remember.

So, since Accelerated Learning makes teaching any topic easier and more effective, let’s look at how we can apply this methodology to make financial education work for you.

There are basically 10 components of Accelerated Learning you can apply to make any financial literacy program fun and effective for your students, regardless of age!

Note: The following information is completely relevant for speakers, presenters, teachers or coaches in the financial education arena. The techniques work with all ages and with all topics.

Ten Components Of Accelerated Learning

ONE: Make it Relevant

Human beings generally have no interest in learning that which they don’t see as relevant to their lives in some way. We all know what happens when we put people in an environment where they are asked to learn something they don’t want to learn or aren’t interested in. They start talking to each other, fidget, figure out ways to leave, daydream or doodle in their notebooks.

It’s even more obvious with children. If you ask them to sit and watch something or listen to someone talk for any period of time, they wiggle and squiggle, roll their eyes, talk and ask lots of questions like, “Is it over yet?”

Yet put them in front of something that they find interesting, and even a two-year-old will sit still.

Topics must be made relevant and interesting or the information falls on deaf ears, and eyes. Even if YOU think the information is absolutely necessary, if it isn’t relevant to the one you want to teach then you are wasting everyone’s time and energy.

So how DO you make financial freedom and security relevant to an 8-year-old or a 12-year-old or even a 16-year-old? Great question.

The answer involves going into their world. In order to figure out how to relate what you want to teach them, you must understand what it’s like to be 10 or 12 or 16. Only then can you begin to shape your message in a relevant way that will reach out and grab them.

Find a way to relate it to their lives. You can start by asking them what matters!

TWO: Enroll Them

Once you figure out how to make your financial education program relevant, your next step is to enroll them in the idea of learning. Enrolling is how you ‘hook’ your audience; get them to want to be there. When your audience is properly enrolled, they are ready to learn.

Here are three basic verbal methods the professional experts use to enroll their audiences:

1) Enrolling Questions & Scenarios.

Asking your audience a couple of relevant questions can immediately get them involved in the subject matter. Raise YOUR hand and get them to raise THEIR hand in agreement. Enrolling questions usually come in pairs and your goal is to enroll 100% of the audience. Sometimes this means thinking on your feet!

In a course about money, you might ask…

“How many of you like to spend money on things that you want?”

“How many of you want to grow up to have all the money you want and need so you can live the way you want to?

You can also use something like this…

“Imagine just for a moment, waking up every morning with the ability to do whatever you want. If I told you I had the secrets to that kind of life, would you want to learn them?”

A simple way to enroll children, in particular, is to invite them to visualize a particular situation and ask for their advice and feedback about how they would handle the situation. A good example would be “wanting a new pair of shoes but not having enough money” or “having a friend who asks you to borrow money”. The more we can invite them to role-play situations that help them experience “financial risk”, the better they will be prepared to handle those situations. Another scenario would be asking children to visualize what they will be like when they are older. Ask who will be paying for their food when they leave home, who will buy the gas for the car, stuff like that.

Bottom line…ask questions that will eventually reach 100% or your audience.

2) Announcements with meaning.

This is a way to reconnect with someone who has mentally left the room and “jar” them back into the program. An announcement goes something like this: “I was sick and tired of being broke!” or “The time is NOW!”

Bottom line…make announcements with a strong conviction.

3) Staggering Statistics.

This type of enrolling method involves using well-researched statistics. The statistic you use must be 100% true or you will lose your credibility. The statement is used to get your audience’s attention.

Perhaps something like…

“Our country is currently in debt to a tune of over $11 Trillion dollars!”
“College students are moving back home at an unprecedented rate!”
“College students are graduating with $_________ in credit card debt, with no ability to make the payments.”

Along the same lines, don’t hesitate to provide a group of children or teens with real statistics…

o like the fact that it takes approximately $300,000 to raise a child from 0-17.

Then ask them how many children they want to have!

o like how much they’ll end up paying for that first new car they finance.

Ask them if they think the car was really worth it?

o like how much buying a $4 coffee drink adds up to over 40 years at 10% interest.

Ask them if they’d rather live on that money later or drink it once.

Bottom line…startle them with facts!

Regardless of which methods you use, be concise, powerful and full of conviction. Pay attention to the response you get from your enrolling methods so you continue to modify for each presentation or class. You will quickly find that the more time you spend crafting your enrolling questions, the better and more effective your teaching experiences are for your students.

Bottom line…find a way to hook them and you’re half way there.

THREE: Make it Interesting

Here’s how you know when a child or adult is bored…they LOOK bored! It’s simple…no matter how interested they might be in the topic before you started teaching, if they are bored, you might as well forget about it.

There are some very simple ways to make learning anything interesting. Here are a few:

1. Ask Questions. Because questions hook the mind and keep us engaged, our brains stay active thinking of the answers to questions and problems that are thrown our way. Have them answer the questions out loud by raising their hands.

Two critical parts of this type of instruction are often left out. First, make sure you acknowledge the person for asking the question. Second, thank the person after the question is answered. Asking for a round of applause also keeps the energy high and makes the person feel great.

Tip: When someone asks a question, before answering, ask the audience if someone knows the answer. If they do, acknowledge that person by asking for a round of applause or snaps (see Celebrating Section).

2. Ask, Don’t Tell. Before ‘teaching’ anything, find out if a member of the audience knows the information first. It’s very common for someone in the room to know the information you are teaching and this will acknowledge them as well as involve the rest of the audience in the conversation. It’s great when the presentation isn’t all about the presenter!

3. Use Stories and Metaphor. Nothing is more attention getting than a great story. Weave the information or lesson into a story with a character they can relate to and you’ve got a winning combination. Craft the character to be the same age as your audience, with similar interests, concerns, likes and dislikes. Decide well in advance exactly what the character will do in the story in order to learn whatever it is you want your audience to learn.

FOUR: Make it Active and Interactive

There is saying that goes like this, “Everything is energy.” If you’ve taught anyone at all, you understand the importance of keeping the energy high in the room, for yourself AND your learners. And this goes with any age…young to old.

Studies show that most people learn better and remember more when they’re moving in one way or another. Incorporating the information into a physical activity helps make it easer to learn and more fun to teach and keeps the energy high for those involved.

In addition, because human beings are relationship oriented, provide plenty of opportunity for students to learn from each other and share their own experiences. This type of educational environment helps kids know they are not alone. And sometimes it’s just more fun to learn things as a team.

One way of making it interactive is to consider your programs ‘conversations’ instead of lectures. When you have a conversation with someone, you talk, they talk, and on and on.

A great way to do this in a controlled way is to use CALLBACKS. A callback is when you say something and then immediately ask them to repeat the information. An example might look like this…

“So, one of the most amazing ways you can invest for your future it to put money in the stock market. WHERE can you put money?” And they say, “Stock market.”
or…

“The three assets most wealthy people invest in are real estate, the stock market and businesses. WHAT are the three ways?” They say, “Real estate, stock market and business.”

You can also do it this way…

“One of the most important habits you can do with money is to Pay Yourself First.” Say that whole sentence with me. And they will repeat it.

It takes a bit of practice but it’s an powerful way to not only get them to remember what you’re teaching but to stay involved and engages.

One additional way to keep the energy high in a learning environment is to be very aware of these three states: physical, emotional and mental. If you sense that the energy in the room is going down, all you have to do it change ONE state and you’ll change all three. Because learning is incredibly ‘state dependent’, learning to recognize and change your learners states is one of the most valuable skills you can learn and use.

FIVE: Make it Experiential (Full of Feeling)

Experiential teaching means letting the learner physically or emotionally experience what you’re trying to learn. In the case of teaching kids about earned income, for example, you can physically hand them money for something they traded their time and energy for as well as money for something they did that might pay them over and over again (write a book, buy a rental property, invest in a stock that pays dividends). That simple gesture of handing them money elicits internal responses that will help embed the information.

SIX: Teach to All Three Learning Styles

Most people learn visually, auditorily or kinesthetically or a combination of any two or three. This means we learn by seeing, hearing and feeling, both physically and emotionally.

Teaching to all of these learning styles helps ensure that every student receives the information in a manner they can process best.

As an example, when you say, “There are five ways…”, use your hand to illustrate the number five as well as write the number 5 in a bright color on a flipchart or dry-erase board.

Hint: Be BIG. If you want someone to move 6″, you have to illustrate this by moving 12″. Use your whole body when you teach. Be excited and inspiring if you want your students to be excited and inspired.

SEVEN: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

When YOU say something, it’s one thing. When you get your students to say something, it’s a completely different story. When THEY say it, it’s locked into their minds in a more profound way.

Many people don’t learn the first time they are exposed to a concept, idea or piece of information. Think of your teaching as ‘exposing’ them to information and know that it takes often takes repetition for information to sink in. As an example, in a financial literacy workshop, have your students repeat sayings and principles like Pay Yourself First over and over again.

Hint: put principles on large colorful pieces of paper and hang on the wall. Give students a reward every time they hear the principles, run up and point to the principle and make the other students recite the principle out loud.

EIGHT: Make it Catchy

Think of a commercial that you have found yourself repeating. “Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun,” probably brings up an image of the classic McDonald’s Big Mac in the hearts and minds of most Americans.

Ask yourself how you can turn the information you’re teaching into catchy phrases, poems, and songs. Make information rhyme or fit into a pattern and, just know, that the funnier you make it, the easier it is to remember.

NINE: Make it FUN!

Laughter is not only the best medicine…it’s the best learning method. Think of a time when something was really funny to you. Do you remember what was going on? Chances are you do.

Put the concepts and information you want to teach into a game or activity that makes your students laugh and you’ll never have to ‘teach’ it again. When you do this, your learners end up learning as a result of the game or activity; it becomes a natural result of the experience. You literally weave the lessons into the activity and before you know it, they’ve got it.

Note: They don’t always understand what they have just learned, but at least you’ve got it in their little computer brains where it will stay and be processed until it’s needed at a later date.

TEN: Celebrate!

Imagine being acknowledged every time you raised your hand with an answer to a question your teacher just asked. Think about what it would feel like to have an entire group of people snap their fingers three times just because you stood up to ask a question or make a comment. Visualize how inspired you’d feel if the teacher said, “Great Job!” just because you participated in an activity.

Wouldn’t you be more inclined to stay involved in the learning environment? Wouldn’t you WANT to participate? Wouldn’t you WANT to show up, ready to play, eager to learn?

This is only a partial list of benefits from celebrating learning. If it’s good for a football team, it’s good for your classroom.

End Result: Making it Sticky

All of these teaching ideas, combined with the power of accelerated learning, makes the information STICKY. Students learn faster, remember more and have a whole lot of fun learning information that would probably be boring and ineffective in any other setting.

Leaving home and school with financial wisdom is critical to every child’s success as they forge their own way in the adult world.

By using these teaching tips to teach financial education, you not only improve the chances more of our youth living happy, successful adult lives but you can know that you’ve been a huge part in that success. And isn’t that every teacher’s dream?

BONUS TIP: Use financial literacy as a platform to teach everything else.

Do you want to really make learning relevant to your students? Great…think about this.

What if children learned how to read by studying business plans, reading articles about life and health, writing book reports on success journals of all types?

What if children learned math by creating budgets, learning to shop smart, researching stocks and creating financial statements?

What if children learned to write by writing business plans and advertising copy, business correspondence and hand-written personal letters?

What if children learned art and music by creating graphics, websites, composing advertising jingles and more for businesses they create?

THIS would make education relevant, experiential, effective and fun! It would be education that would stick with your child forever, giving them a lifetime of skills and information to make, manage and multiply their money wisely. The result? An adult who is financially responsible and who understands the power and value of doing good in the world.

THIS is how we change the world…one child at a time!

For more information on YOU can learn how to teach your financial literacy programs in the most amazingly affective way, check out http://www.creativewealthintl.org/trainthetrainer.php

Financial Education – Leave it to Parents?

The current financial crisis has sharpened the focus on the need for better financial education across all segments of the population. Just as information and guidance on healthy eating and exercise can prevent a lifetime of obesity, effective financial education, when started at an early age, can prevent chronic financial health problems later in life.

Where this education should take place is a matter of debate. Whether education and guidance of this sort would be more effectively shared by parents and families or taught formally as part of the school curriculum. Here we discuss some of the issues on both sides.

Schools

Financial literacy is an important element of preparing young people for adult life, which in turn is one of the main purposes of the education system. Lessons in money and financial matters can be integrated into many other existing subjects, such as mathematics, citizenship, PSHE and with some imagination into art, design and manufacturing based subjects.

Teachers have the skills of explanation, motivation and effective delivery. They also have access to resources, books and technology. Banks and other financial providers have programmes available to support teachers and schools.

Teaching financial literacy in schools guarantees a uniform, minimum of knowledge. Admittedly the quality and effectiveness may vary from school to school, region to region, yet a basic level of delivery can be assured.

Children are in a learning environment at school and therefore may be more receptive. Some parents may lack the necessary time, expertise or interest to teach their children about money. This may perpetuate a downward spiral, where a lack of awareness is passed from generation to generation.

Parents

At present few teachers have the necessary experience or knowledge to competently teach financial education. Consequently they may possibly pass on their own beliefs or bad habits concerning their own finances. The training and resourcing required to up skill teachers will take time and money.

School curricula are already crowded with mandatory content. New criteria can only be added at the expense of something else.

Regardless of where you are reading this, is the state in the best position to impose a financial education curriculum? Is the example of huge debt and continually spending more than your income a great example to follow? So too, many of the banks whose financial attitudes have heightened the current economic problems.

The financial world exists outside of the classroom and many would argue that so too lie the better opportunities for learning. Examples include taking children shopping, encouraging them to save and take part time jobs. Showing by example how to budget, pay bills and make financial decisions are far more real when experienced in context.

We should also consider the differing religious and moral beliefs of parents and communities. For some, the principle of tithing or giving 10% to church or charity is fundamental and may conflict with a school curriculum. Other families and traditions have very strong views on debt or use cooperative systems for providing within communities.

These are some of the main arguments in the financial education debate. A definite solution is not immediately clear, however what is evident is the need for some kind of change. Parents and in fact young people themselves can access a range of financial information from a whole host of providers. They need not wait for others to take the lead. Schools on the other hand should be encouraged to provide at least a minimum explanation of key information as a safety net for those unable to access the information for themselves.

Why Isn’t Financial Education Taught in Schools?

If ever there was a time for better financial education then surely it is now. When you look at the state of many of the economies around the world it’s a mystery why financial education is not compulsory schools. It is easy to blame banks, big business or governments for the current climate but it is the education of individuals that need to change.

At school, we may have learned some skills necessary to get a job, but nobody tells us how to create or manage our wealth. If we cannot educate ourselves on ways to obtain and retain our money, we are headed for a future financial disaster.

In the USA, individual debt is growing 23 times faster than the economy. It is a similar situation in many other developed nations, for example the credit card debt in the UK is over £220bn or an average of £3175 per person. Thousands of college graduates who have invested in their education are facing a student loan crisis. The job market is shrinking, and the sour economy is preventing employers, parents and relatives from helping those who are behind on payments,” USA Today reports. “Student loan defaults are at their highest rate since 1998, and likely will go higher” People are even losing their homes and have no money to retire on. It is estimated that the average person today will require $1.5 million by 65 years of age to retire comfortably.

Some argue that a better way to teach children about money is in the home, which may have its merits but may create something of a vicious circle: when parents are financially illiterate – they’re not likely to teach their kids very well, are they? Which means that the minority of people, who are smart about money, will (potentially), raise kids who are also smart, while for the rest the cycle will continue.

Another argument put forward against financial education in schools, centres on the twin pillars of lack of time and lack of money. School curricula are already crowded places and a significant financial education programme would have to come at the expense of something already in place. Few teachers would have the necessary competence and confidence to deliver such programmes without the need for additional training and resourcing.

These arguments may be countered by providing financial education online or via other media accessible to students, and indeed their parents, 24/7. Young people will spend hours studying independently for subjects with a real personal interest, playing an instrument, making a MySpace page or learning to drive for example.

Funding may not be such an easy nut to crack but there are existing projects sponsored by banks and financial institutions around the world. Dissenting voices would point out however that if it was the banks that got us into this mess are they the best influence to help educate the next generation? Governments may also see the longer term benefits of providing financial education as saving them the money they may otherwise have to spend on social security in the future.

In conclusion it would appear that there is a growing tide of public opinion supporting the need for better financial education, which in my opinion should at least begin in schools. The debate will continue as to who should deliver what and when but in the meantime, parents and young people themselves can take a proactive approach and seek the resources currently available.

A great source for younger children is The Financial Fairy Tales series, which introduce money principles and awareness via entertaining and engaging stories.

Why Property Investors Develop Financial Freedom

Let’s be honest, we all want to be rich and many of us are fascinated by those who already are. How did they do it? How can we do it too? The truth is wealthy people don’t do different things; they just do things in a different way – from the way they think to the actions they take.

I’ll let you in on a little secret…not everybody has to work hard for their money. People who own businesses have employees who are willing to work for money, whereas the business owner generally has his money working for him. The same is true for investors, their money works for them.

It’s called passive income. Being a property investor or a business owner is like owning the proverbial money tree – you control something that makes money for you, without the need to even be there.

In his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series of books, Robert Kiyosaki explains how the rich differ from the poor. It’s not just because they have more money. The main difference is how they think about and interact with their money and that when it comes to how people make money, we can all be placed in one of four categories.

1. The Employed – have a job
Employees trade hours for dollars; however what they really get are leftovers – after the government takes its share in taxes.

“So what? They do that to everyone!” you may be thinking. Well no, they don’t. Business owners and investors only pay tax on what’s left over after their bills are paid. Wouldn’t it be nice to only have to pay tax on what you don’t spend?

2. The Self-Employed – own a job
Self-employed people and professionals usually want to be their own boss. They’re prepared to work hard, but often what they’ve done is swap one boss for hundreds of bosses – customers or clients. In reality, self-employed people aren’t business owners – they still work for their money, but they’re somewhat better off than employed people because if they’re able to take advantage of tax deductions that allow them to pay their business expenses before being taxed on what’s left over.

3. The Business Owner – owns a system and people work for them
The true business owner not only doesn’t have to work, he doesn’t have to be at work every day, because he has a system and people to do it all for him, and possibly even supervisors to manage his workers. The true business owner asks, “Why do it yourself when you can employ someone to do it for you?” After initially investing in a business idea, and a business system, they let the money they have invested – which is now in the form of a business – work for them.

4. The Investor – money works for them
Investors don’t have to work either, because their money works for them. If you hope to become rich at some point, you have to belong to this group; because investors convert money into wealth.

Obviously, you’re not going to jump from being an employee to a full time investor overnight. But you can start taking the steps to move from being an employee or self employed, by building your own property portfolio. Done correctly, income earning residential real estate can be your vehicle for getting out of the rat race!

There are also many legal tax advantages available to investors. One of the reasons the rich get richer is that in some cases, they make millions and legally pay very little tax. That’s because they build their assets, not their income and make their money as investors, not workers.

Imagine you own a $1million investment property that increases in value by 10% each year. In twelve months your asset base will have increased by $100,000, yet no tax is payable on this. Wealthy property investor can borrow against the increased value of their assets and use the money to reinvest or live off.

Where do you stand?
Which category do you fit in? Are you an employee, self employed, a business owner or an investor?

In the past there has been a slow but steady transfer of wealth from employees and self employed to business owners and investors. They’re all playing the same game, but each group is playing with a different set of rules and their mindsets are poles apart.

Employees and self employed work harder and harder, trying to build cashflow, yet many dig themselves deeper into a hole of consumer debt. In the meantime, business owners and investors slowly build up their assets. The employed and self-employed pay the most tax, while business owners and investors take advantage of legal tax loopholes.

Logically, if you want to become wealthy you are going to have to become either a business owner or an investor. It’s just too hard to become rich as an employee or self-employed worker.

Does that mean you should give up your day job? Not necessarily. Many employees have become very successful investors – in particular property investors. So rather than relinquish your job, I suggest you start educating yourself with the aim of becoming a property investor – initially in your spare time and then maybe, if you choose, on a full time basis.

Should you become a business owner? Most small businesses fail in the first 5 years. In general I think the opportunity to become rich through successful property investment is much easier for the average Australian. That’s why I recommend you seriously consider making your fortune as an educated, financially fluent property investor.