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Financial Tip

One of the best ways to stay on track to financial independence is to have a spending plan. Here's a quick overview of the steps you can take to set up your own:

1. Gather documents and receipts showing earnings and expenses.
2. Total your net monthly earnings. 
3. Total monthly expenses, including money you put into your savings. 
4. Subtract monthly expenses from earnings.
5. Rework your spending plan until it comes out on the plus side - including setting aside money on a regular basis for your long-term goals.
6. Invest in yourself by reviewing and adjusting the plan each month so you can stay on track to reach your long-term financial goals.

Well, Whaddayaknow?

Started by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy in the year 2000, April marks the 11th annual Financial Literacy Month. That makes spring a perfect time to focus on your kids' financial education. All year they've been filling up their heads with facts and figures on many subjects. But have they learned the essential facts about money and how to get on the path to financial independence?

Making sure kids learn these important lessons is one of the goals of Yes, You Can. Jill Grotzinger, a partner in Experience Design Innovation Group LLC (EDI), the Yes, You Can curriculum designers, recommends starting by playing the Whaddayaknow? Game Show with your students or kids. "It's fun to do, and can be used several ways. It's a great introduction to financial vocabulary and terminology. After finishing the Yes, You Can curriculum, teachers can also use the game again as reinforcement before testing," Jill suggests.

 Download the Whaddayaknow? game.
To play: Select the value and use the delete key to reveal the question. Select the question and then use the delete key to reveal the answer.

The curriculum provides step-by-step instructions for playing the TV-style game, including:

Creating a game board on the wall using the print-ready materials or using a computer to play electronically.

  • Setting up teams of three to five students.
  • Asking each team to create a one-word name, such as Brainiacs, and to select a spokesperson and scorekeeper.
  • Going in alphabetical order, each team chooses a category and dollar amount, such as "Income" for $200. Terms and definitions are revealed as each team gives an answer.
  • Having scorekeepers calculate scores and determine the final score once the last box has been selected. The team with the highest score wins.

In each category, student will learn definitions for five financial terms:

Spending - wants, advertisement, fixed expense, credit card and debt.
Saving - savings account, emergency fund, comparison shopping, compound interest and Pay Yourself First®.
Income - paycheck, net worth, profit, taxes and easy access credit.
Planning - financial goal, spending plan, opportunity cost, systematic decision-making and inflation.
Investing - portfolio, stock market, risk and reward, share and mutual fund.

As each correct answer is revealed, the teacher can discuss these terms and what they mean.

The Yes, You Can curriculum starts kids early on the road to financial independence. They'll learn that their ABCs should also include Assets, Benefits and Credit and the 3 R's can refer to Revenue, Rent and Retirement!

Teachable Moments

You can use the curriculum at home by clicking on "Educators." Signup is free.

The Yes, You Can curriculum includes adult dialogue activities that help parents discuss financial matters with their kids. One activity encourages parents to ask their children, "Who do you think is more financially independent? A movie star or a grocery store clerk?" The discussion that follows should help kids understand that it's not how much money a person earns that defines whether they are financially independent, but how they use it.

Bottom line, anyone can be financially independent provided they choose to be.