Once upon a time, people used to get together and discuss a book they had all agreed to read independently at the same time. You may not know, but books clubs like this still exist to this day.
With that said, a new type of club is emerging, if not quite taking its place: financial literacy clubs. Where book clubs harnessed and expanded its members’ verbal literacy, financial literacy clubs do the same for its members’ ability to effectively manage their money in the service of their goals.
Learning about finances may seem boring to some people, and even overwhelming to others. However, with the advent of financial literacy clubs, the act of learning takes on a social component that makes it more enjoyable and approachable.
Some of the people who can benefit the most from financial literacy clubs are young people who will soon be renting and buying homes, repaying student loans and starting families. People entering their empty-nest years and approaching retirement may also benefit from such clubs aimed at the older set’s goals and issues, such as retirement and caring for loved ones in their golden years.
Starting a Financial Literacy Club
Currently, 17 states in the U.S. require students to take some kind of money management class in their formal secondary school curricula. Additionally, 22 states in the country require high schoolers to complete a course in personal finance to graduate.
Related Article: 6 Financial Mistakes College Students Make
For everyone else, acquiring the knowledge required to achieve financial literacy is an individual effort. To help yourself and others like you to build the necessary knowledge by starting a financial literacy club, find experienced advisors to help guide you.
You can only learn so much from books before you need a human being in front of you to answer questions applying to your unique situation. Some of the experts whose guidance you can seek include:
- Bank employees
- Accountants and bookkeepers
- Tax advisors
- Retirement planning specialists
- Businesspeople and executives
- Finance students at local universities
After that, all you need is to gather the participants and schedule a time and place to meet up. Make sure before you reach out to too many participants that you have a clear idea of your focus and objectives for the financial literacy club.
The people you invite to participate can determine whether the club you propose would be useful to them and address their questions and needs. Be prepared to adjust the focuses and objectives of your group, if necessary, to encourage enough others to participate.
As for setting a place and time, you can ask the people you invite into the club when they are available and where they would be able to meet. Perhaps each participant can take a turn hosting a club meeting.
On the other hand, if meeting at a person’s house is not feasible, you can often find community centers, libraries, workshop locations and schools willing to lend you the space for little to no money. If the members of your club cannot all get together in person at the same time and place, consider an online financial literacy club using teleconferencing programs to facilitate the meeting.
It is important to keep in mind that financial literacy clubs generally cannot replace standard financial literacy education. If your school offers financial education courses, take them. Then, if you start or join a financial literacy club, you can take the knowledge you gleaned from the course into the club and share it with your fellow members.
Possible Topics for Study
Once you are involved in a financial literacy club, there are an endless range of topics you could explore together, depending on everyone’s interests and needs. Some of the possible topics of exploration for a financial literacy club include the following:
- Personal banking
- Retirement investing
- Emergency funds
- School loans
- Buying a home
- Building good credit
How a person manages his or her money is a very personal matter. Once you learn the best guidelines and procedures for different financial processes and instruments and hear the prevailing general wisdom on financial topics, the rest is individual.
Therefore, make sure to allow both the time and emotional space for people to discuss their various approaches to different topics. Be sure to establish some ground rules that ensure a non-judgmental environment as well as a secure one where people can trust the confidentiality of the group.
You may wish to enroll a team in helping you run the club so you do not become overwhelmed by doing it all yourself. This can also help the others in the club feel like they have a personal “investment” in it too.
Speaking of investments, maintaining a club can cost some money, such as for snacks and drinks, printouts and hiring speakers and guests. For this reason, you may want to come up with a monthly due every member pays to participate in the club.
Group Projects and Investments
One way to make a financial literacy club even more fun and practical for participants is to make a project out of it. Organize a charity fundraiser or a group tag sale. Volunteer for a non-profit organization. Start a small business together, like a food stand or designing and selling custom t-shirts.
Any projects or field trips that help you and the group to get practical, hands-on training in areas of personal finance can give you further topics for group discussion and new skills to incorporate into your own personal lives. You can even start an investment fund, pooling your money and choosing collectively how to disperse it among different investment vehicles.
While this puts your own real money at stake, giving up total personal control over its use, you can also learn a lot from the collective effort, discussing your shared investment as it grows and shrinks, deciding together when there are changes to be made and what they are.
One benefit of this approach is the shared excitement of the rewards and agony of defeat as you watch the value of your shared investment fluctuate. When real money is at stake, attention heightens, making possible greater strides in learning and achievement.
Related Article: Best Investment Strategies for Beginners