Tackling Financial Literacy

28 Oct

It’s like most football games on the market.  Players select their favorite team and rival.  And maneuver across the field in hopes of gaining a touchdown or securing a field goal.  But there’s one additional metric.  In addition to testing mouse clicks and speed, the game quizzes one’s financial knowledge.

Yardage, turnovers, fumbles are all linked to a player’s ability to determine whether food is discretionary income and whether student loan interest is tax-deductable.

Pamela Yip, a writer for the Dallas Morning News’ business section was raving about the game that uses the concept of football to test player’s financial IQs a couple of weeks ago in her column.

Of course, I had to test it out–not to crown myself the queen of financial football, but to see what all of the hype was about.  And to determine its usefulness for organizations like BOOF, who for the last 15 years have specialized in bringing financial literacy to inner-city schools.

The game is a  Practical Money Skills for Life, NFL and VISA collaboration.

VISA?  Sponsoring a game that teaches financial literacy?  Interesting. . .

The game definitely does its job: By the end of the 1st quarter, even  I had learned a few things about personal finance.  It’s a tool I wish I had a year ago, when I taught a class at Cambridge Extension High on the same topic.

Most of the students were heading off to college via the benevolent aid of Sallie Mae—the fairy godmother who grants contractual wishes.  So, knowledge of topics such as budgeting, interest rates, credit cards, etc. was definitely relevant.

I remember my very first class as though it were yesterday.  I planned to begin with the company’s electronic tutorial to introduce the concepts and had powerpoint slides on my USB prepped for review and discussion.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the classroom and found that the 15-student room had only two computers, neither of which had speakers.  It had no computer projector—only a historic transparency machine that predated me loomed in the corner.

I had forgotten the inventory of many inner-city classrooms.  Call it the Babson Bubble.

We settled for an improv talk-through of the lesson and used the dry erase board for examples.

Though Financial Football is fabulous—particularly for football fans, my fear was that the students that needed it most wouldn’t be able to access it.

Then I saw that the link for the game’s Iphone app.

Problem solved.

Smartphones are the primary access for many students to the World Wide Web. 

Which raises the question , “Why on Earth hasn’t the game been better promoted.”  It has existed for five years and the first rumbling I heard of it was by sheer happenstance.

Companies that would benefit more financially-literate consumers and better spending and savings practices should jump on board to promote such a tool.

Hmmm. . .but our economy is based on consumption—consumption beyond our means.

Perhaps that’s why, for the last five years, the game has been neglected, hidden and collecting dust under the digital bed.

Well, the NFL is stepping up its efforts.  That gorgeous cowboy, Miles Austin, went around schools in the (what area), playing with local students in promotion.

That should drive play..

But, seriously, what about those who don’t get the push from teachers? Or good-looking professional football players?

How does the game reach a wider array of audiences?

Well, give them a little incentive.

Offer rewards for top scores through social media.  It doesn’t take much.  The game targets football fans, so let top scorers win free NFL merchandise, preferably for whichever team they battled the financial torrents with.

So, I searched Facebook to check out the social marketing and media campaigns for the game.  It seems that in certain parts of the world, the campaign is much more active, In Dubai, they award prepaid Visa gift cards to winners.

The marketing campaign simply needs a big push in the States.  It needs to show American society that being financially literate makes you money, literally.  That being financially literate in the game of Life is the first step to success.

By the way, other financial gaming options exist for non-football fans: There’s  Financial Soccer for Futbol Lovers

Until next time.


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