April 13, 2023

With Alcohol Awareness Month upon us, it’s time to pave the way for real and age-appropriate conversations with your students. What’s more, it’s important to give families the tools they need to do the same. It can be a rocky road to navigate, so let’s gather up some tips and tricks that will help you on your journey!

An Open Dialogue

It may seem tricky to broach such an uncomfortable topic, but the fact is, kids who drink alcohol are more likely to:

  • Be victims of a violent crime
  • Have serious problems in school
  • Be involved in drinking-related traffic crashes

Even if underage drinking is not yet a concern, that doesn’t mean that children aren’t receiving pressure to drink. The best plan of action is to take charge now. Avoiding conversations about alcohol use may give children the impression that underage alcohol use is OK. Furthermore, it’s important to acknowledge the role that friends and classmates can play in a child’s life. As children approach adolescence, their peers’ opinions seem to matter more. Kids will listen, however. Study after study shows that even during teen years, parents and guardians have enormous influence on their children’s behavior. Starting a dialogue can be tough, so explore these pointers to start you on the right path:

  • Encourage constant conversation about all kinds of subjects, not just alcohol! Encourage your child to talk about whatever interests him or her. Listen without interruption. Your active listening to your child’s enthusiasm paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you.
  • Ask open-ended questions. Encourage your teen to tell you how he or she thinks and feels about the issue you’re discussing. Avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
  • Control your emotions. If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
  • Make every conversation a “win-win” experience. Don’t lecture or try to “score points” on your teen by showing how he or she is wrong. If you show respect for your child’s viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.

Even when active conversations about alcohol aren’t happening, there are still many ways to continue a silent dialogue. Whether students will admit it or not, the adults in their lives serve as role models. Use this to your (and their) advantage! Here are some suggestions for modeling a healthy relationship with alcohol:

  • Refrain from using it as a stress reliever. Instead, model productive coping mechanisms.
  • Never drive after drinking. Talk about what your child should do if they’re driving with someone who has been drinking.
  • Your child probably shouldn’t be overhearing stories of a night out drinking with your friends, so keep adult conversations strictly in the company of other adults.
  • When you are entertaining adults, and kids are in the house, let kids see that you are including alcohol-free beverages and plenty of food, and that you are making sure everyone has a safe ride home.

It can be scary to acknowledge that your child might eventually do something you don’t want them to do. However, encouraging open and honest conversations and setting examples will surely communicate to your child that they don’t have to navigate rocky terrain on their own. And when they do inevitably stumble off the beaten path, they’ll have trusted adults in their circle ready to brush them off, hand them a compass, and lead them on to great things!


April 13, 2023

When you’re young, it’s easy to be carefree and not too concerned about the future. This is a concept that I know all too well. At 13, I started babysitting to earn money and my father would take half my earnings and put it into a savings account. I remember being so angry! I “earned” it, so shouldn’t I be in charge of how I spend it? It wasn’t until I was 17 and I went to buy my first car that I understood the lesson my father was trying to teach me. It felt so good to buy my used, old Nissan Sentra with the money I'd earned the past four years. Then came the lesson in paying car insurance each month. If it wasn’t paid, my car was parked in the driveway, and I was back on the bus to and from school. Much to my teenage self’s dismay, I was lucky enough to be taught the basics of financial literacy. Economic education, as early as possible, can help set children up for success later in life!

Charge It

Did you know that 38% of U.S. households have an average of $16,048 of credit card debt? It makes sense, considering I was offered my first credit card in college, so I jumped at the chance to charge a spring break trip to go skiing. I’m pretty sure it took me the remaining two years of college to pay off that one trip. Financial literacy is defined as the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage one’s financial resources effectively for lifetime financial security. I may have known how to earn and spend, but the other side of financial literacy — like protecting finances, saving, and investing — was foreign to me.

Steps to Financial Freedom

When planning, use the Financial Literacy Implementation Checklist to begin documenting how you’ll develop financial literacy programming for your students, families, and adult participants. It will help you focus on the areas needed to make the experience successful. Additionally, the Adult Financial Literacy Needs Survey is a great tool to assist you in collecting data. After you complete the needs survey, consider these three questions:

  • What do we know about the financial education activities or programs that local schools offer?
  • Do we currently use any activities or engage with partners (e.g., financial experts) that might align with financial literacy? 
  • What knowledge and skills do current staff, advisory boards, program team, and partners have that may be useful?

Coaching Staff on Financial Education

We can’t assume our staff is educated on financial literacy. The Coaching My Staff section of Y4Y’s course on Financial Literacy can assist you in preparing your staff to implement a high-quality financial literacy program and provide them with tips and tools that will help them tackle tough subjects.

Show Me the Money!

There are many fun and exciting ways to teach financial literacy. You can increase student learning and retention even further by incorporating engaging learning strategies. Use the Y4Y tool Learning Methods At-A-Glance to select which learning style might be a good fit for your program and activities. When planning and implementing your program, make sure to check out the program schedules based on the grade level(s) of your out-of-school time program. See Financial Literacy Elementary School Program Schedule, Financial Literacy Middle School Program, and Financial Literacy High School Program Schedule.

A Lesson Learned

Fast forward from my childhood and college years to the present: I never truly understood the importance of introducing financial literacy concepts at a young age until my children would ask for something. We’d talk about needs and wants but in their minds, I could just swipe my credit card or go to an ATM and the money would magically appear. Gone are the days of putting chore money in a piggy bank. To keep up with the electronic world they are living in, I ordered a debit card for each of them. They can see when their chore money is deposited on their card. Just like my father did for me, I deposit half of it into a spending account and the rest into their savings account. They are learning to spend wisely, set savings goals, and invest for their future.

Many of your students might think, “Why not just live in the present and worry about the future later?” However, one of the best gifts we can give them is to help them improve their financial knowledge today so they can build the foundation for an amazing financial future.


April 13, 2023

I aced my way through economics, business calculus, and both of my college accounting classes, yet I still felt unprepared for navigating the financial ins and outs of the real world. I remember the day it hit me, too. Last year, I made my first “grown-up” purchase: a used car from my local dealership! As soon as I held the keys, I could feel the clouds opening and the sun shining down. The white paint seemed to sparkle in the daylight. The dealership even went the extra mile and stuck a huge bow on the hood! I was in complete bliss. That is, before the salesman and my stepdad started throwing around terms that sounded foreign to me: APR, principal, amortization. To sound smarter than I felt, I quickly tried to recall lessons from my high school economics class, but I came up empty. It was like a moment from a movie when the main character has the epiphany that sets the whole plot in motion: I am so financially illiterate.

It wasn’t like I was horrible with my money; I just had no idea how to manage it properly. I used to laugh about it, almost like my lack of financial literacy was a dumb party trick. However, after I graduated from college and landed my first “big girl job”—with Y4Y, no less—I quickly had to start thinking about some very unfun things such as debit and credit, 401k, and investing. That’s when I discovered the breadth of financial resources on Y4Y’s website. Even though I don’t run an out-of-school time program, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t use Y4Y’s free tools! Check out the resources that I used on my journey to become more financially literate:

  • Financial Literacy Key Terms: I scoured Google to find simple definitions for difficult financial terms, but it turns out that I didn’t have to! This tool defines key terms to start you on your financial literacy path.
  • Adult Preprogram and Postprogram Assessments: You know the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know”? That’s where I was. This tool helped me understand what gaps I needed to fill. It asks questions that touch on credit scores, interest, tax refunds, and more. If I didn’t know the answer, I used that as a guideline for what I needed to research more! When using this tool in your program, be sure to first explore the Guiding Principles for Facilitating Preprogram and Postprogram Assessments.
  • Introduction to Financial Literacy: Though I used this tool to refresh my basic understanding of financial literacy, this PowerPoint can be used in your adult financial literacy course. If your adult participants need somewhere to start, this tool is for you. It covers earning, spending, credit and debit, insuring, and saving and investing.
  • Financial Literacy Book List: I’m a book lover and if you, your staff, and your students are the same way, this book list will be of great value to you! I spent my time reading a few of the books for adults and found myself picking up knowledge with each chapter. My personal favorite was The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke, but there are a multitude of books for every age group.

After I sharpened up my financial know-how with Y4Y’s tools, it was time for me to get down to business and make my way through the Building Financial Literacy Click & Go.

  • Podcasts: I don’t know about you, but I personally love podcasts, so listening to the three that are included in the Click & Go was a no-brainer. Podcast 1 demonstrates how to design and provide financial literacy for adults. Podcast 2 is all about learning the benefits of community partnerships such as banks and finance professionals. It will also give you ideas for building partnerships to support financial literacy. Podcast 3 discusses financial literacy resources for yourself and your program.
  • Mini-Lessons: If you only have 15 minutes to spare, catch our two mini-lessons! You’ll get an in-depth introduction to financial literacy and tips for developing age-appropriate financial literacy activities.

As a self-confessed financial literacy novice, I don’t know it all. However, with the tools I’ve found through Y4Y’s website, I feel much closer to achieving a sense of financial freedom, and that’s priceless.