Local Schools Bring In Experts To Teach Kids About Money

May 4, 2015

Autumn Lettau with NuVista Federal Credit Union teaches sixth-graders at Centennial Middle School in Montrose, Colo about financial literacy.
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Many states require students be taught financial literacy. However, Colorado is one of the few that also tests on it. To help students learn, some schools are bringing outside experts into the classroom. 

Six teams of students are playing a quiz game similar to Jeopardy. The purpose of the game is to gauge the financial literacy of sixth-graders who just completed a weeklong course on the topic. 

"I wish that somebody had taught me this when I was this age,"Autumn Lettau with NuVista Federal Credit Union says.

At the request of schools, Lettau teaches kids about money. This week she’s at Centennial Middle School in Montrose.

"Colorado passed state standards that they revised in 2009," she says. "And those standards basically they start with kindergarten [and go] all they way up through high school."

The standards are different for each grade level so Lettau tailors her lessons to compliment what students are already studying.

Eric Palmer is a math and social studies teacher at Centennial Middle School. For the past week, Lettau took over his sixth grade class. 

"I think they’re learning how to not only spend their money wisely but to save it for future investments and just how to not to get into a cycle where they will find themselves one day unable to pay their bills and meet their basic needs," Palmer says. 

Caitlin Ogoe, 11, says the financial literacy course made her realize she hasn’t been smart with her money, but she plans to fix her habits.  

"You know if you can’t learn to restraint yourself from spending or how to keep your money and possibly make more off of it with things like interest you really have a much harder time with surviving," she says

Ogoe and her classmates learned about credit, debit, savings, investing, online money usage and identity theft.

Tristan Diaz, 11, says the lesson that stuck with him was on debt and goals.

"Well my goals, I always had one but I would never keep it and always spend it on something else," Diaz says. 

He says he now plans to save his money and spend more wisely. 

Lettau says she’s always impressed with what the kids learn and thinks the conversation about money should start young.

"The level of detail that we go into for this grade is not as high obviously as if they were in high school or college, but it is enough that it’s opening their eyes and showing them there is a world of finances ahead of you and it is going to follow you the rest of your life especially once you are out of high school," she says.