The Importance of Financial Literacy for Future Generations

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Future smart - 3000 middle school students

Yesterday I had the privilege to participate in the FutureSmart Challenge put on by MassMutual in Phoenix, Arizona. The goal of this event was to teach financial principles to kids and they were able to pack the Talking Stick Resort Arena with over 3,000 middle school students.

At first, I was really curious how they would make the topic of financial literacy interesting to kids of this age group. I remember when I was in middle school, I was more concerned with playing my Nintendo 64 and riding my BMX bike, than learning about money.

And so it begins…

Well, they kicked off the event with a competition where four students lined up at the edge of the basketball court. In front of them were articles of sports apparel that they would have to put on and at the end was a basketball.

They were given the green light and the four of them raced to put on a jacket, then a pair of baggy sports pants, then some basketball shoes, and finally they ran to the other side of the court with a basketball until one kid made the shot and the crowd went wild.

This was just a glimpse of how exciting it was and it only escalated from here.

Next, they did a dance off where they randomly picked students from the crowd to come demonstrate their dance moves. Several students competed and at the end, the crowd of students voted on the winner with a load roar for the dancer they like the best.

The energy was amazing!

Wait…Wasn’t this suppose to be about financial literacy?

Well, it was, but what I realized was that it took activities like this to get the students amped up and motivated to stay engaged.

After a couple of these activities, Hill Harper came to the scene and brought a ton of charisma as the emcee for the event. He told his story of how he grew up in California and had a dream to go to Harvard. People told him that it wasn’t possible, but he made it happen anyway. Not only did he get a law degree from Harvard, but he has become a successful actor who has starred in the tv show CSI: New York, the movie Concussion, and more.

Hill Harper in talking stick resort arena

At this point, the students were hooked.

He then preceded to drop some great financial principles like the following:

  • Learn and engage when it comes to managing money
  • Build a blueprint for your life
  • Talk with your family about money
  • Think before you spend
  • Start saving money now

He had some great quotes that are worth noting:

“I’d rather buy Nike stock than Nike shoes”

“The more you learn the more you tend to earn”

I also had the privilege to be interviewed by Hill. I was at the event with two other bloggers and he asked us all some really thought provoking financial questions.

Hill Harper - Deacon Hayes and bloggers

Why is financial literacy so important?

Although I was not interested as a middle schooler in personal finance, it was clear that these kids were. Hill Harper, as well as the rest involved, did a great job of making this event engaging and informative.

I have to be careful of always viewing the world from my own perspective. If these kids were excited to learn about finances, then by all means, let’s teach them about it. If they take away one thing from the event, their lives are changed. It is likely that many of these kids will open a savings account, create a blueprint for their lives, or just talk to their family about money because they attended this event.

It is important that we invest in the future generations when it comes to teaching them about money. They will be the future leaders, business owners, politicians, and change-makers. We need to equip them with the knowledge and resources necessary to be successful with money, so not only will they contribute to society, but they will lead better lives for themselves and their future families.

When did learning about money become important to you?

This article is a sponsored post from MassMutual who created FutureSmart which is a nationwide initiative that brings critical financial education to middle and high school students across the United States. It was an honor to be a part of their event and to see what they are doing to educate kids when it comes to managing money well.

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  1. Wow, what a great event. That’s good that they are trying to reach the kids at an early age. I’ve read a couple of Hill Harper’s books. He seems like a very nice person. Hopefully the students will remember what he told them.

    1. Deacon Hayes says:

      Yeah, he is definitely a nice guy and very approachable. He actually told the kids to private message him on Instagram when they create their financial blueprint for their lives. I thought that was a cool way to have them get serious about creating a plan and following up with the event.

  2. OMG, I’m sooo jealous! I would have been star struck…I love Hill Harper. His book is on my reading list AGAIN because of all the savvy bits of nuggets he drops. It’s so awesome that these kids got to engage with him and learn about pf in a way that gets them fired up. This is amazing!

    1. I would have been star stuck too. However, I had never seen anything that he has done previously. He seems like a solid guy, and he did have some great nuggets of wisdom, for sure. His book is on my reading list as well!

  3. I love the quote about Nike stock rather than Nike shoes!

    Schools need to start teaching budgeting and personal finance as a subject. Yeah, there will be some push back from parents that teachers shouldn’t be telling them what to do with their money, but the kinds of very basic questions I get about personal finance every day tells me it’s something that needs to be done. People don’t know how to make a simple budget or how much credit card interest really costs.

  4. That sounds like a great event! It’s very timely for me. I’m chairing my first meeting next week to kick off a financial literacy discussion with my school district and community. I will have to add FutureSmart to my resource list. Thanks for sharing, Deacon!

    1. Deacon Hayes says:

      I’m glad to hear it. I hope the discussion about financial literacy goes well!