Financial literacy in Arizona

“Money is great when you have it and you don’t have to worry about it but when you’re trying to figure out how to make a house payment or buy food or go to college or help a friend, knowing how to budget money is one of those skills that’s almost never taught but by the time you need it, you’re thinking ‘I wish I’d learned this ten years ago,’” Metro Tech High School Principal Bryan Reynoso said.

Metro Tech has been teaching its students financial literacy – which includes lessons on how to budget, save, spend, invest, balance a checkbook, etc. – for almost a decade through its partnership with Canyon State Credit Union.

“We have…a unique partnership with Canyon State,” Reynoso said. “The credit union put a branch on our campus and we open it during our lunch and [study hall]…it’s open to the public, but our students work as the bank tellers and do all of the transactions.”

According to Reynoso, having the credit union on campus helps teach students the importance of financial literacy in the real world by giving them access to work and also opening their own savings accounts.

“They seem to be having a good time. I think one of the things with students, and even with adults, you need to have a good time at work. You need to enjoy what you’re doing, and the kids there really seem to do that. The kids who are getting certificates for the financial literacy programs, they seem very proud that they’ve gone through all of that,” he said.

Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee recently proclaimed April 2019 Financial Literacy Month to showcase the importance of teaching future generations the importance of money management.

“Being able to manage your own money is a simple, but an important life skill that will matter when our children get out into the real world. One in eight millennials has debts in collections. Financial education is needed now more than ever,” Yee (R-AZ) said in a statement.

Yee has been an advocate for personal financial literacy for over a decade, passing a bill that created a seal of personal finance to be affixed on high school diplomas to indicate proficiency in financial literacy.

Recently, Yee helped state Senator Sylvia Allen (LD-6) pass a bill that would require a Financial Literacy and Personal Financial Management component to be included as part of the Arizona Economics course requirement for high school graduation.

It’s nice to know we’ll have a generation of kids that won’t be struggling with [money],” Reynoso said.

Reynoso added that schools should try and build relationships with banks or financial institutions near their campus to help give students the real-world experience and build relationships within companies.

“Having the connection with the bank, or a financial institution of some kind, really adds credibility to the financial learning,” Reynoso said.

Senate Bill 1184, which made financial literacy a high school requirement, was signed into law on April 11, 2019, by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ).

Emily Richardson

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