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Financial Literacy: Financial Firsts Can Be Financial Pitfalls

Financial firsts in the lives of young people can become financial pitfalls. Four, realistic scenarios set the stage for discussions of the life skills needed to navigate personal finances successfully. 

The scenarios in this activity are a springboard for discussing four financial milestones that can be fraught with risks for young people as they get established in life. This age group is coming into many financial firsts – first vehicle, first credit card, first student loan, and first job and apartment. 

What’s Different About This Activity?
  • Relies on Relatable Teen Scenarios
  • Centers on Financial Firsts That Can Become Financial Pitfalls
  • Requires Only 30 Minutes of Preparation for Judges and Lawyers; None for Teachers and Students
  • Engages Every Learning Style 

These materials are suitable for students in high school, college, vocational programs, and early-career jobs. The scenarios are designed for judges and lawyers to use with students in courtrooms or classrooms. Each fact pattern sets the stage for brass-tacks talks about financial issues that are making millennials one of the fastest-growing demographics filing for bankruptcy protection.

How to Use These Resources

Start by downloading the agenda and complete activity package.

Resources for Courtrooms and Classrooms

  • The proposed agenda can be modified to meet the needs and interests of the participants.
  • The pre-test is a reality check that exposes students to what they don't know about managing money. 
  • The scenarios can be used as stand-alone lessons; they can be mixed and matched; or they can be presented as a series.
  • The scenarios are free of legal jargon, however, for the few words that need definition, go to the Bankruptcy Basics Glossary. 

Pre-Test: What Do You Know?

When you think about everyday words like budget, credit score, and true cost are you sure that you have a practical, working knowledge of these pillars of financial literacy?

They are concepts that have huge impacts on your life and your future by opening – or closing -- doors to employment, housing, vehicle ownership, student loans – and even serious relationships. 

Take this pre-test and find out where your starting point is on your personal journey toward financial competence.

Scenarios as Financial Literacy Reality Checks

Four brief fact patterns present relatable situations embedded with decision points for the teens involved. A generic list of questions works with all of the scenarios and can be tailored to different audiences. These discussion starters help participants synthesize key points and reinforce the lessons learned.

First Job Euphoria — Needs v. Wants

Young people going out on their own for the first time may not be skilled in distinguishing between needs and wants, which can be a set up for overusing credit cards.

First Credit Card Confusion — Read the Fine Print

Glossing over the fine print in credit card applications can have serious financial and legal consequences.

First Vehicle Miscalculation — Know All the Costs

Every major purchase comes with additional expenses.  If not figured into the cost of the purchase, they can derail a young person’s financial future.

First Student Loan Slip Up — What to Know Before You Borrow

Spending based on the expectation of future income can set the stage for overspending, debt accumulation, and long-term financial consequences.

DISCLAIMER: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for educational purposes only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on any pending case or legislation.