Do feelings about money matter?

by SecureFutures President and CEO Brenda Campbell



Wisconsin is an exciting place to work in financial education. Our state has been at the forefront of making financial education a priority, and in 2017 was among the first states to mandate that school districts adopt academic standards for financial literacy and incorporate instruction into the curriculum in grades K-12.  This was a game-changer for Wisconsin students, and there’s another exciting new development.

Last month, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced a new update to the statewide financial literacy standards. I was able to be part of the development of these new standards as a presenter at the State Superintendent’s Standards Council and as a member of the community review panel, and I’m thrilled that Wisconsin is once again setting an exciting national precedent: the implementation of a “financial mindset” strand.

What is “financial mindset”? As all-star educator Joel Chrisler said on a recent call about the standards, financial mindset is the “why?” of financial education. While conveying financial knowledge to students is important, it’s just as important to address the emotions, habits, and behaviors that lie behind each person’s decisions about money and how to manage it.

Helping students develop a financial mindset means helping them to examine the values they’ve been taught about money and develop values of their own. It means enabling them to think strategically and critically about financial decisions and to not be derailed by the setbacks that happen in everyone’s life. It means supporting them in accountability, concrete goal-setting, and the formation of healthy habits. It means shifting feelings about money from fear to empowerment.

For SecureFutures, “financial mindset” has been a foundational aspect of our programming from the beginning. In our Money Sense program, in addition to teaching financial basics, we use the mantra “Go do it now!” to encourage students to apply what they’re learning in their daily lives. Our Money Coach program, with its basis in mentorship, creates an environment of accountability, empowerment, and support for students’ financial lives in a holistic way. And our Money Path app was explicitly created to help students connect the dots as they plan for their education, career, and financial future, eliminating the confusion and uncertainty that can often accompany these decisions.

Our overarching goal as an organization is to ensure that every student in Wisconsin graduates from high school equipped for a lifetime of financial capability. As these new standards are rolled out, I’m more excited than ever to continue to partner with schools and districts throughout the state to make progress towards that goal.

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