Saving for the Future: Extension, local bank team up to teach Tennessee students financial literacy in action

See how one Tennessee elementary school’s “Money Bank” program paves the foundation for a lifetime of financial success.

A groundbreaking initiative is taking place at an elementary school located in a rural Tennessee community. Teacher at Lynchburg Elementary School are introducing young students to the world of finance through a unique program known as “Money Bank.” This innovative project, spearheaded by UT Extension in Moore County in collaboration with a local bank, is starting these kids off on an early path toward financial literacy, when it comes to teaching them how to perceive money, savings, and spending.

The fourth-grade class at Lynchburg Elementary has earned the moniker “Money Bags” for a good reason. Each student is provided with a distinctive blue sack to fill with actual cash, which they can deposit directly into the bank —which is located right inside their school! Here, they get a chance to safely make real cash into their personal savings accounts, laying the foundation for a lifetime of financial responsibility.

“Children are socialized directly and indirectly when it comes to money values, money habits, money attitudes,” said Chris Sneed, an expert from UT Extension. “A lot of that socialization happens in the home where they grow up, but schools can play a really important role.”

Brenda Hannah, another a key figure in the program, emphasizes the value of providing children with the opportunity to watch their deposits grow through their own bank books. The Money Bank program goes beyond the traditional classroom setting, incorporating lessons on spending, saving, and giving. Students engage in educational games that allow them to earn more cash, while also witnessing firsthand how money saved can grow with interest.

“It’s important to save money because then you save that money until you’re an adult and you can buy a house, a car,” said Braden Pyrdom, one of the young savers, emphasizes the importance of saving money for future goals. His classmate, Ilithia Gray, echoes the sentiment, expressing a desire to spend her money on essential items like food and clothes.

Local credit unions have played a crucial role in supporting the program, not only by donating funds but also by offering their expertise to teach the students. Recognizing these children as their future customers, bankers are invested in cultivating a generation of savers.

“We were interested in finding some way to create a generation of savers,” explained Pam Case, a representative of the credit union involved in the initiative, expresses the organization’s commitment to creating a savings-oriented generation. “That’s kind of how this started, and we’ve been looking at ways for financial literacy.”

In an era where cash transactions are dwindling, the Money Bank program aims to instill a genuine understanding of the value of a dollar in these young minds. UT Extension experts stress the importance of early financial education, emphasizing that schools play a pivotal role in shaping each child’s money values and habits.

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