For the past several years, I have been privileged to work with an organization of bankruptcy attorneys called the New Jersey Bankruptcy Lawyer's Foundation. It provides to New Jersey high school seniors a program called FLiP, the Financial Literacy Project.
Presented within a class period (although we prefer an assembly of an hour), they learn about how credit works, credit cards, and identity theft. Yesterday, along with another local bankruptcy attorney, I presented this program in four back-to-back class periods at Cherry Hill High School East. It is in three parts.
How Credit Works
First, we went over how credit works in general with lenders and role-played a situation where a student volunteer played a bank loan officer being asked for a $500 loan by "Needy Student." The rest of the class played the bank's "Board of Directors."
They learned what is important in the decision to lend money and how risk can affect what interest rate the bank will set on a loan, if it grants one. They learned about credit (FICO) scores, how they are calculated, and how they can affect your life and your ability to get credit at a decent rate.
How Credit Cards Work
Second, we taught them the "Rules of the Game" when it comes to credit cards. They learned about interest rates on credit cards, late fees and penalties, cash advances, balance transfers, and the like.
More importantly, they learned about how to be responsible with credit cards, how the cards can end up increasing the costs of things they purchase with it, and how long it can take to pay off the balance with the "minimum payment."
Third, we taught them how to protect themselves from identity theft by being very careful about their private information. We told them about all the scams out there, how the thieves get this information (often from you), and what information they are looking for.
Most people have either been the victim of identity theft, or know someone who has. This at least heightened their awareness and hopefully made them more cautious as they go out into life.
Get This Program At Your School
We introduce ourselves as bankruptcy attorneys who are really bad businessmen because we are telling the kids how they can never be one of our clients! If your school doesn't host this program, speak to someone about it.
Have them contact one of the FLiP Coordinators on this brochure and use this form to invite them to come to the school. New generations need to be taught financial literacy so that they can better avoid financial hardship and bankruptcy and have a better life!