These high school students are helping 5th graders learn about personal finance

Posted at 6:27 AM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 13:09:02-04

April is Financial Literacy Month, and starting with 9th graders in 2024, a half-credit personal finance course is required for high school graduation in Michigan.

According to the Intuit Financial Education Survey released this month, 85% of U.S. high school students say they are interested in learning more about financial topics in high school.

However, some teenagers in Ann Arbor are actually volunteering to teach kids much younger than high school age.

They dropped by an elementary school this week to talk money with some fifth graders.

The Investment Club from Huron High School are part of the first-ever "Financial Literacy Month National Teen Teach-In."

“So, we are going to give you a presentation about money and its value," Caleb Patterson, a junior at Huron High School said to the fifth grade class at Thurston Elementary School in Ann Arbor.

The teens talked about everything from saving to budgeting scenarios.
The kids really got into a game where they had to stand on one side of the room if something was a "need" and on the other side of the room if it was a "want."

“Okay, it’s not on the board, but ‘Going to the Gym’ – a ‘Gym membership,'" the students asked.

Most of them ended up deciding that paying for a gym membership was a "want."
The debate raged on over Fortnite and TikTok.

”So, what do you guys think? This is a need or a want?" Smrithi Arcot, a sophomore, asked.

"Want!" the class responded.

But how about shoes?

“It mostly depends on the brand of shoes. Cause like Jordans -- they’re expensive. But see the tennis shoes like, like I have on, they’re not that expensive. So, they’re a need," fifth grader Olivia Miller explained.

There were more light bulb moments, too.

“I didn’t know that credit cards you needed to give, pay back for the times you used it," Haku Nishioka, a fifth grader, said.

Their teen teachers were seeing the pay-off.

“It was so great. I was really nervous going into it. Like you don’t know how receptive the kids are going to be. But like they were just so great, they were so interactive," Smrithi said.

What did the teens hope would make the biggest impression?

“Just the value of money and that money is so important in their future because that is the key to success," Caleb said.

Melissa Gordon, the Business and Finance teacher at Huron High School who presented the teen teach-in idea said the goal is to financially empower kids.

“From Next Gen Personal Finance, they just came out with a blog post talking about the difference between students who are exposed to financial literacy in high school versus students who are not. There’s a $100,000 difference in terms of their lifetime income," Gordon said.

Her high school students were motivated to make learning about money memorable. They closed out their presentation with a game of Jeopardy.

Huron High School is one of 130 high schools across 44 states that volunteered to host the teen teach-in events throughout April. It's part of a project by the nonprofit Jump$tar Coalition for Personal Finance Literacy.

Here are the top three things high school students wish they knew about their finances, according to an Intuit survey: How to become wealthy, how to save money, and how to avoid debt.