I was honored to attend the 2016 Annual Conference on Financial Education and EIFLE Awards ceremony at the Caribe Royal in Orlando (Waterfall Pic Above). The event featured educators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada dedicated to financial literacy, here are just a few of the highlights from this great experience!
People Care: There were so many great financial literacy leaders at the conference sharing their stories of inspiration. There were authors, teachers, program managers, parents, students, economists, Ph. D’s, financial planners and regulators all in attendance. The one thing they had in common? They care about the people they serve and want to see improvements in the world of financial literacy.
Personal Finance is complicated, educators simplify: Often times financial literacy is lost on students when it becomes too complicated and difficult to relate to real life. In truth, financial literacy can apply to everyone in many ways, but it’s not seen as important until it’s recognized as relevant. Financial literacy teachers take a complex idea and make it easy for early learners to understand and appreciate the importance. Additionally, we learned from behavioral finance educators that people can take action to improve their own financial circumstances through a combination of great knowledge learned in the classroom combined with real life “learning moments” that pop up every day. Personal experience is the toughest teacher since it gives the test first and the lesson last, but when it comes to financial literacy curriculum, we can always learn from the experiences of great educators.
A greater mission and purpose:
Financial literacy is a huge topic, but after participating in many of the presentations, a greater narrative became clear. Attendees and presenters alike share a common purpose in helping their communities face financial challenges of all kinds. They all matter! Many organizations whether non-profits or for-profits see the advancement of financial literacy as a greater calling, whereby working together creates the synergy to improve an economy, allowing “all boats to rise on a common tide.” John Hupalo, CEO of Invite Education shared his personal insight on the issues facing financial literacy for college attendance, citing the motivation displayed by Felix Baumgartner’s record breaking free-fall. The success of being able to “Land on your feet” is something that all college students should not only strive for, but ultimately achieve as a result of their college experience. Financial literacy leading up to college will help parents prepare their children by teaching them how to make smart choices as they choose a college. This process will lay the foundation for financial success after graduation. College is just the first successful step forward for many in pursuit of career and life goals. By providing a baseline of financial literacy to tackle this big question, we all have much to gain.
The Future is Now!
People are helping people with financial literacy and using technology to reduce the barriers of service. I was fascinated by the diverse number of attendees sharing their unique ideas and experiences. It’s realized that technology plays a critical role in simplifying the educational process, but too often we allow it to become a distraction. When we see students plugged into their smart phones, it’s just another sign of the modern times. Financial literacy is more important now than ever and is transitioning into the digital era not with fancy bells and whistles, but rather with clear messaging, consistency and intelligent targeting of audiences most in need of help. Once teachers work to build relationships with students and prove relevancy of their content, the next step is embracing common technology to continue follow up with more valuable lessons into the future. Financial literacy is a step-by-step process where students can continue to learn throughout their life no matter how technology will change in the future!