“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

Teaching the mechanics of finance involves understanding the individual’s level of financial knowledge.  We are all on a path to financial understanding regardless of ability.  It may be easy for me to understand how to track my money, how to budget and spend it; but if you dropped me onto the trading floor of the stock market, I would be lost, overwhelmed, and incapacitated.  None of us knows it all.  Both staff and the individuals we serve come in with different levels of financial intelligence.  First, we must determine where an individual is on the path to financial understanding.  A person’s ISP often gives us an idea of the level of control and understanding an individual has of their finances.  Some individuals will have a payee who helps them process their SSI or pay checks and some will control these deposits in their own accounts. 

Once we have established the individual’s current level of understanding, we can work on growing it.  Doing is often the most productive way to learn and it fits well into our community inclusion model.  Motivation increases when there is a real-life situation and reward to be gained.  For learning about delayed rewards, YouTube gives us many video clips demonstrating the concepts of savings, balancing accounts, and other financial concepts.  A list of videos that is updated every few months can be provided to staff to ensure quality videos are being used.  After a video, the skill should be practiced in real life.  Some of the topics that might be helpful to move individuals forward in their financial learning include:

1. Understanding that items must be paid for before they can be consumed or taken out of a store.
2. Understanding how to pay for items at a store.
3. Understanding how to use a credit card and how to use cash.
4. Rounding up when using cash to ensure the correct change is received.
5. Understanding how to pay at different stores with different types of check outs (ie self-checkout,                prepaying a parking attendant, pay at the pump, etc.)
6.  Price comparison
7.  Making shopping lists to prevent impulse buying. Shopping lists can be written on paper, dictated into      an electronic device, or accomplished by circling items in shopping ads.
8. Controlling emotions when temped to impulse buy or buy something you don’t have funds to                     purchase.
9. Dealing with buyer’s remorse.
10. Understanding how to access and balance bank accounts.
11. Understanding savings and strategies to save (ie putting loose change in a jar, automatic savings provided by banking institutions, saving toward a trip or goal, etc.)
12. Understanding how to read your paycheck.
13. Understanding investment through retirement savings plans and investment apps.

There are many more concepts that can be learned throughout a lifetime of financial understanding.  YouTube videos are very useful when staff and individuals need to learn a concept at the same time.  Many staff may not be familiar with investment apps or have a good understanding of their retirement accounts but watching YouTube videos with the individuals they serve increases their understanding.  Finance is an area where we can all learn together.  There are endless financial lessons to be learned through a lifetime.