Financial Literacy Among Philadelphia Students: It’s Time to Close the Gap


Financial literacy and personal finance education should be a top priority at all stages of life, but a recent survey of Metro Philadelphia residents shows it’s missing from one crucial place: schools. The survey found that high school is the most common place Philadelphians wish they had learned all elements of finance, but in fact very little financial education is provided in schools. This must change in order to increase the financial literacy of Philadelphia as a whole, ensuring that residents can not only survive, but prosper financially.

Philadelphians demonstrate resilience despite lack of formal financial education

Before developing a plan to increase future financial literacy efforts, it is important to understand how Philadelphians have learned various financial topics so far. The survey found that it is very rare for Philadelphians to learn how to manage their finances through formal education, as residents report most often learning various aspects of managing their finances through education. family or self-study. Although the trial and error approach presents a unique opportunity to learn from experience and may even instill a sense of pride in the individual for having taught themselves or loved ones a new skill or a new one. concept, it is inherently problematic, as the learnings could be incorrect or faulty in one way or another, preventing the individual from truly grasping the root concept.

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For example, many older generations pass on money advice that may have been specific or helpful in the past, such as the idea that money is safer under your mattress in your own home than in a credit union. or a bank. This is no longer the case, however, as your money is better placed in a savings account where it is insured and can grow with interest. Slight undertones like this can make a big difference in the long run, especially given how the world around us is constantly changing.

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Perhaps one of the most illuminating findings of the survey is that the Philadelphians said they were not happy with the way they learned about finance, although they expressed feelings of confidence in their current financial situation. In fact, only 16% of respondents said they were satisfied with the way they learned about finance, which means that we as credit union leaders have work to do when it comes to finance. is about providing financial education.

Encouraging financial security among Philadelphians of all ages

Financial education efforts should start as early as possible, even at a high level. Teaching children the value of saving their allowance, regardless of the dollar amount, or the importance of spending responsibly during their most formative years can establish a solid foundation of personal finance knowledge that will accompany them throughout. of their adult life. But the burden of education should not fall solely on parents; especially in this digital world, the possibilities to teach and learn are endless.

Philadelphians expressed that this type of education was something they wanted at a young age, but it was not made available to them. This is something we hope to see change over time, and while school districts largely dictate what is taught in the classroom, financial leaders can get creative in how they complement traditional learning with valuable financial content. To do this among college students in Philadelphia, the PFCU has partnered with Spark, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that provides college students with opportunities focused on career exploration, to host a creative competition to mark the occasion. of Financial Literacy Month.

The 2021 Virtual Creative Financial Literacy Competition provided the younger generation with the opportunity to share, in their own words, what financial literacy means to them in their current stage of life, as well as the financial goals they have achieved. ‘were set for the next 5, 10, or 15 years. Each student was encouraged to submit a creative essay, poem, or work of art on what financial security means to them for a chance to win the grand prize ($ 500), second prize ($ 300) or the third prize ($ 200)). Winning student submissions put the true meaning of “financial security” into perspective, especially when it comes to winning essay submissions.

“Financial security not only means to me that I don’t care whether my income or my money can cover my living expenses, but it also means that I have enough money set aside for my financial goals and needs. future, ”wrote the grand prize winner. , Samia Hossain, in her dissertation on financial security. Samia also incorporated her parents’ lessons into her essay, noting that they had saved up money to buy a new home to provide more space for their growing family, a financial goal that inspired the point of Samia’s view of financial security. Hearing firsthand from the younger generation that there is an urgent desire to achieve financial security in the future only further reinforces the fact that this work must become a top priority for the country’s financial leaders.

Whether it’s through an engaging creative contest, short social media videos, or a career-focused workshop, there are plenty of ways to educate the next generation about responsible financial habits and behaviors. By making a continued concerted effort to reach students of all ages using these financial education methods, we hope to see Philadelphians increase their own sense of financial literacy and ultimately achieve their financial goals.

To view the full research report, click here.

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