The following was sent in by Jenna Bennett, Senior Associate of Carmichael Lynch Spong:
Imagine if teenagers controlled their families’ finances. Would they know how to spend and save money wisely? Or would they max out every credit card? It’s hard to know, but with 50 percent of high school seniors failing when tested on basic personal finance1, it’s not a gamble many parents would take.
Recognizing this, H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) offers personal finance curriculum to high schools through H&R Block Dollars & Sense and is accepting applications through February from interested teachers. Provided free through H&R Block’s grant process, the curriculum uses a game-like simulation to teach students how to budget, use debit and credit cards, save money, pay rent and avoid debt. Since 2009, H&R Block Dollars & Sense has awarded more than $2.5 million in curriculum grants and scholarships to high schools and students nationwide.
Teaching teens about money isn’t easy. Parents say they don’t know where to start or what to say and the discussion often leads to conflict with their children. With schools covering so many other critical subjects, only 15 percent of teens receive formal personal finance education before graduation2. The result? Many teens venture off to college or out on their own unprepared to make sound financial decisions.
“Kids tell us this is a fun way for them to learn the consequences of their financial decisions – good and bad. Through a virtual simulation they are faced with choices they’ll be making for real in the not-too-distant future,” said Robert Turtledove, chief marketing officer for H&R Block.
Created by Knowledge Matters, the provided curriculum retails for approximately $1,500, but for many teachers, that could be their department’s budget for the entire school year. To help schools clear the budget hurdle and ensure more kids receive personal finance education, Dollars & Sense will award curriculum to 250 schools this spring adding to the more than 3,000 schools currently participating.
Teachers using the program say their students are “addicted.” Mike Dwyer of Eisenhower High School in Yakima, Wash., said the program was instantly embraced at his school. “The kids love it. I have students coming in at 7 a.m., waiting at my door so they can use the program,” Dwyer said.
Financial psychologist and Dollars & Sense advisor Brad Klontz says financial learning not only feeds curiosity, but it also could ward off health problems.
“Financial stress is damaging to our health,” said Klontz. “High school is a critical time for teens to learn important financial lessons before they are out on their own. Helping teenagers understand concepts such as credit and budgeting early on can build confidence, reduce stress and set them on the right track for their financial future.”
For more information on bringing H&R Block Dollars & Sense to a local high school or tips on talking to teens about money, visit us online at www.hrblockdollarsandsense.com or on Facebook.
1 Jumpstart Coalition for Financial Literacy
2 National Endowment for Financial Education
About H&R Block
H&R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB) has prepared more than 575 million tax returns worldwide since 1955, making it the country’s largest tax services provider. In fiscal 2011, H&R Block had annual revenues of $3.8 billion and prepared more than 24.5 million tax returns worldwide, including Canada and Australia. Tax return preparation services are provided in company-owned and franchise retail tax offices by approximately 100,000 professional tax preparers, and through H&R Block At Home™ digital products. The H&R Block Bank provides affordable banking products and services. For more information, visit the H&R Block Online Press Center.