Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Fed to help teachers learn finance

Are you a teacher or do you know a teacher? Educators can learn about money and personal finance at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's special courses specifically aimed at helping them in the classroom.

Are you a teacher or do you know a teacher? Educators can learn about money and personal finance at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's special courses specifically aimed at helping them in the classroom.

The Philly Fed offers one-day, three-evening, and weeklong professional-development programs to equip K-12 teachers with the knowledge to better instruct their students about economics and personal finance.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, teachers also can earn professional-development credit via the Fed's programs. To register (required) and for information, go to

Even if you aren't a teacher, you can find the lesson plans at this Philly Fed webpage, and download them for free. (For the offerings, click on "Lesson Plans.")

New Jersey now requires high school students to graduate with one semester of financial education.

Bill Martin, a Winslow Township High School teacher, attended the Philly Fed's most recent training. The curriculum, "Cards, Cars and Currency," focused on credit cards, debit cards, and purchasing a car, a presentation developed by the St. Louis Fed and available at

A resident of Sicklerville, Martin teaches business, entrepreneurship, and economics and has attended many Philly Fed sessions over the years. The classes usually cost no more than $50.

"The price is right, and you keep all the materials for your students," Martin said.

"We hook the students with questions about the $100,000 bill," he said: "Where does money come from? It's created by lending. You take some of that $100,000 bill, lend it at an interest rate, say, to 100 people, and they grow a business and it becomes $200,000. That's how wealth is created. Growth doesn't happen unless lenders lend. You borrow to grow, and then pay it back with interest."

Martin also has attended "Making Sense of Money and Banking," "Entrepreneurship and You: A Professional Development Series for Teachers," and "The Federal Reserve Financial Education Day."

What would he like to learn about next? Student loans.

"I would sign up for that, because I'm still dealing with my kids in college," Martin said. "Negotiating tuition is one of the hardest things financially. There are so many parties in the middle. So I'd like to know how to deal with shopping around for a student loan."

FinLit survey

We thought we were savvy about money, but just 57 percent of Americans have a financial clue, according to a new survey.

Last week, McGraw Hill Financial and Gallup released the S&P Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey, one of the most extensive measurements of worldwide financial literacy to date. The survey interviewed more than 150,000 adults in 144 countries in 2014.

Asked five questions about inflation and interest, adults in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark ranked as the top three most literate, followed by those in Israel and Canada. The United States ranked No. 14.

Why? Americans have a weak understanding of interest, even though credit-card use and student debt here are among the highest in the world.

Interest is the least-understood topic in the U.S., with 40 percent of adults answering the interest question incorrectly.

Want to take the test yourself? Here it is:

Risk diversification: Suppose you have some money. Is it safer to put your money into one business or investment, or to put your money into multiple businesses or investments?

Inflation: Suppose over the next 10 years the prices of the things you buy double. If your income also doubles, will you be able to buy less than you can buy today, the same as you can buy today, or more than you can buy today?

Numeracy and comparison (debt): Suppose you need to borrow $100. Which is the lower amount to pay back: $105 or $100 plus 3 percent?

Interest compounding (saving): Suppose you put money in the bank for two years and the bank agrees to add 15 percent per year to your account. Will the bank add more money to your account the second year than it did the first year, or will it add the same amount of money both years?

Interest compounding (saving and numeracy): Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the bank adds 10 percent per year to the account. How much money would you have in the account after five years if you did not remove any money from the account?

For the answers (and the full data set), go to:

215-854-2808 @erinarvedlund