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Monday, February 7, 2011

Howard County's 2nd Annual "Passport to Financial Literacy"

This past Saturday I participated in the "Passport to Financial Literacy" event at Howard Community College and have to say that I was very impressed with the turnout and the results. Kids had fun, and I believe learned a lot in the hour or so it took to go through the stations. They learned about getting a job, different salaries, the cost of college, buying a car, renting an apartment, and the trade-offs involved in making financial decisions. Along the way, they learned how to keep their balance in their check register. hocoblogs@@@

I manned the car-buying station and explained the various choices of automobiles, ranging from a used Mercedes at $37,000 to a used Honda Accord at $6,200.  Kids learned the concept of a down payment and how a bigger down payment gave them a smaller monthly payment on the loan. The down payment was duly recorded and subtracted in their personal check register.

Each student also borrowed at a different rate of interest determined by choosing tokens. They learned, by seeing explicit dollar amounts, that the better their credit the lower the rate of interest they paid on their loans.

In many cases, parents helped the kids make decisions on such things as what type of car to buy, how much to put down, etc. It was obvious that these discussions would continue long after the event was concluded as kids and their parents go through the real world and make real financial decisions which, in the end, is a big part of the mission of the project.

From my perspective, I have to say again that I felt it was a huge success, that it was a step up from last year, and that it enforces my belief that improving financial literacy is possible without spending huge amounts of money. Too many times when financial literacy is mentioned, people start talking about training teachers and buying expensive software, etc. and the perceived financial commitment snowballs. In the end, thumbs are twiddled and nothing gets done.

26 Financial Things to Teach Your ParentsKudos to Michelle Glassburn at makingCHANGE and Marlena Jareaux, author of the book, 26 Financial Things to Teach Your Parents, for putting on an exceptional event.



  1. Sorry I wasn't able to pop down from Carroll County on Saturday and met you in person. Maybe next time. Glad to hear you had a good turnout.

  2. Hey-
    You're back from Alaska! Hope your trip went well. It would have been great to meet you.
    My disappoint was that not a single Howard County School Board member attended. Of course, they'll talk about financial literacy with the cameras on them and waste tax dollars but can't make a local event to see a financial literacy event taking place.

  3. Hi Robert, Great post and wrap up of the event this weekend. If you find yourself writing about Howard County-specific news, there's a little techno magic trick you can use: Include this term -- hocoblogs@@@ -- inside your post. When you do that, it will push a specific post into the "Community" section of hocoblogs and make your post visible to others looking for Howard Co-focused news/posts/perspectitves. :-)

  4. This is very positive; I'm so happy that the students got a chance to experience this. I was just discussing with a student this weekend how important financial literacy is but never thought about how expensive it could be. This is a great alternative/compliment to expensive training workshops and classes. I wish more school would used this as a template.

  5. @Shawn The more of us that talk to students and share our financial knowledge the better off we'll all be.
    Thanks for stopping by.