Financial Literacy in College Students: Re-visited

college high school financial literacy education

Last year I wrote about a project my honors thesis student completed on the topic of financial literacy in business students. The hypothesis for the thesis was that business majors are more financially literate than non-business majors. On the surface, it seemed like it should be a simple answer. Business students are trained in the ways of accounting, finance, marketing, and management. Financial literacy should be a result of their education. Over 400 university students responded to a survey that included sixteen financial literacy questions from the JumpStart Coalition’s test. On average, students answered half of the questions correctly. Business students, however, did not do any better than the non-business students. As a finance professor, this was not a pleasant discovery. It turned out that only age and measures of financial experience resulted in higher financial literacy scores.


This year I had another student working on an honors thesis related to financial literacy. She, however, wanted to focus on high school education. Some states either require a high school course in personal finance or at least are exploring the idea. Given the poor results from last year’s study, we decided to take a different approach to measuring financial literacy. Financial education is not required in Mississippi high schools, but those that offer courses predominantly utilize the Ever-Fi financial education curriculum. So, we designed our financial literacy metrics from this curriculum. The Ever-Fi curriculum focuses on basic, personal finance applications that young adults are most likely to encounter within five years of high school graduation.


The good news is that according to these metrics, college students have a higher level of financial literacy than expected. Over 90% of students were able to answer most of the questions correctly. At least half of students were getting the correct answers to the most challenging questions. So, perhaps college business majors are more financially literate than the previous study indicated and the measure of financial literacy should be carefully considered.


Financial experience and finance education both resulted in higher financial literacy. Educating high school and college students about personal finance is extremely important to the economic health of our country. Curriculum, however, should focus on what students are most likely to encounter after graduation and incorporate applied learning opportunities.
KBC money finance education review

Review: Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

KBC money finance education review

For the past few months I really wanted to try the Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees lapbook from Knowledge Box Central. So, I was really excited for the opportunity to complete the Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees Grade 5-8 lapbook with my kids this summer. Disclaimer: Knowledge Box Central provided the download to me free of charge, but I am not being compensated in any other way for this review.


As a college finance professor, I am deeply concerned about the financial education that children receive. I’ve seen and heard about too many college students who are completely clueless about personal finance. I am also skeptical about the quality of a lot of financial education products on the market targeted at elementary and middle school children. It takes a lot to impress me, but Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees did just that.


Some of you may be worried about being able to explain advanced topics to your children. If you are feeling that way, don’t be intimidated. The study guide included with the lapbook gives clear and easy to understand explanations of each topic. You may even learn something right along with your children. I didn’t always follow the guide exactly because I sometimes found that I wanted to take a different angle with my kids. There are countless ways to customize this lapbook for your children and school. Both my 4th grader and 6th grader completed Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees over two weeks, but you could finish in as little as one week or as long as one month depending on how much time you spend working on it daily as well as how many outside resources you use to enhance the learning experience.


money doesn't grow on trees lap book review


Both of my kids said that their favorite parts were learning about how money is made and exploring careers. We watched some Youtube videos about printing paper money and its current security features along with the minting of coins. If you live near a mint, the Treasury, or a Federal Reserve Bank, those would be some great field trips to take as part of your study.


money doesn't grow on trees lap book review


The two things I liked best about Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees were the sections on banking terms and exploring careers. Banks offer a lot of products and use a lot of words that even adults may not fully understand. This lapbook, however, does a great job of defining terms, providing examples, and giving students an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice with an activity. After completing the lapbook, my kids could hold a conversation about interest rates, inflation, loans, and deposit insurance.


money doesn't grow on trees lap book review
My 4th graders completed lapbook


My second favorite part of Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees was exploring career with my kids. Students choose a future career that interests them and research expected wages and required training for their career. Then, they use this along with expenses you help them estimate to build a budget. If you have a child set on a career that does not pay very well, this can be a real awakening for them. Depending on the career path, you may have difficulty finding accurate salary estimates. For example, my kids chose professional Youtuber and professional video game player. I suppose that given our unconventional lifestyle, I should not have been surprised by their unconventional career aspirations. This is also a good time to start talking about college preparation and career options.
money doesn't grow on trees lap book review
My 6th graders completed lapbook


There was only one part of the lapbook that I didn’t really like. After students choose their career and estimate living expenses, they use these numbers to build a budget. The lapbook introduces the envelope system of budgeting and asks them to practice using the system. The envelope system has been promoted by one financial advisor in particular, and it’s great if that works for you. It is not my preferred budgeting application and simply was not necessary to the exercise, so we skipped it.


Would I recommend this? Absolutely. You can get this lapbook for middle schoolers from Knowledge Box Central or this version for younger students. If you try it out, click back on over here and let me know what you thought.

Review: The Centsables Dash for Cash App

Note: I was not paid or compensated in any way for this review. The review was purely for educational and informational purposes.

Centsables Dash for Cash Review

I wanted to explore some financial education apps for kids as part of Financial Literacy Month. The Centsables Dash for Cash app is free on the App Store for your iPhone and iPad. Since I am not the target audience, I downloaded the app and let Luke (my son who turns 9 in two weeks) test it out and provide the information for this review.

Luke quickly figured out that the goal of the game was to catch the falling cash so that you exactly meet the dollar amount you are given at the top of the screen. Catching too much money causes you to lose points. The levels start out with coins that fall from the sky slowly. As you progress through the levels higher denominations bills start to fall from the sky in addition to coins. The money falls a little but faster with every level, and there are new obstacles that get in your way. Criminals want to steal your money, so you need to stay away from them. At one point I heard Luke muttering that the stupid criminal was a pain in the neck.

Centsable Dash for Cash Review

Rating: Luke rated this game 1.5 out of 2 thumbs up. He had fun playing the game and said it is definitely something he would play again. Luke recommends the game for kids around his age and said it is good to practice counting money.

For more information, you can link to the Centsables here:
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