What Does a Successful Financial Literacy Program Look Like?
Financial Literacy Blog Post
I believe the field of Adult Financial Literacy is extremely important yet undervalued by most. The knowledge provided in a good financial literacy program can be life changing for many people. In my first workshop, I have my students start with the end in mind. For many of the students, this is the first time they have been asked to “Dream.” Some are reluctant, some are baffled, some do not know where to start, some are eager, and some think the activity is a waste of time (you can’t win them all). When I see the look on their faces as I present the material, I realize that I am empowering them, inspiring them, and giving many of them the hope that was lost or hope that never existed before in their lives. By the end of my first three workshops, most of my students know I believe in them. I realize, as the facilitator, I have to encourage many of them to believe in themselves.
As financial literacy professionals we must be able to reach people where they are in life if we want to truly change how people view the field of Financial Literacy and the professional within the field. For this reason, it is a must to find people who are passionate about working with the population they service and truly seek to understand their issues and experiences (not operate from their own biases and perceptions).
A good Financial Literacy program should:
1. Help people understand their current situation.
2. Change the mindset that lead to their existing financial problems and behaviors.
3. Provide financial knowledge to individuals that can be passed down to their children, grandchildren, etc.
4. Give participants the platform to discuss various financial topics, share experiences, and learn new information.
5. Help individuals determine their own financial destination and develop their own road map to reach that destination with the facilitator’s assistance.
6. Introduce young adults to the knowledge early enough in life, so they can develop the mindset and ability to make informed decisions that will help them reach their financial destination. For some, this might be their first exposure to the financial information discussed in class.
7. Show the more senior adults that it is not too late to think about their finances. A good program should also help them use the financial knowledge provided in the workshop to create a realistic financial destination for their lives.
8. Offer some form of individual coaching opportunity if possible. For some people, finances are very personal.
9. Encourage students to take ACTION.
I want to invite you to share your feelings about the nine reasons I highlighted above. I invite financial literacy facilitators add to this list. This list demonstrates the true value behind a good Adult Financial Literacy Program.