LIHUE — Rather than having to experience the burden of an overdraft or getting behind on credit card payments, students from 18 schools on the Garden Isle have access to an online tool designed to teach them about making healthy financial decisions.
“The real issue was none of our kids were getting any exposure to financial literacy,” said Gary Anderson, Kauai High School business course teacher. “We’re trying to get these kids ramped up so they can understand how the real world works and how it’s going to impact their pocketbooks.”
Banzai, a free financial literacy program sponsored by Kauai Community Federal Credit Union, aims to spread awareness of the importance of financial literacy and helping students learn to manage their money.
“Less than half of the country requires financial literacy courses to be taken in school, yet this is basic information students need to know for their daily lives,” said Rachel Yentes, Banzai spokeswoman. “We’re grateful for Kauai Community’s efforts to sponsor these schools and the positive difference they’re making for these students.”
In a 2015 Hawaii of Department of Education study, 24 percent of millennial are able to get near-perfect scores on a five-question financial literacy quiz and 55 percent of those with student loans are concerned they won’t be able to pay of their debt.
Millennials are under a fair amount of financial strain and may not be fully prepared for many of the financial challenges they face given their low level of financial literacy, the study says.
The Banzai program is in its third year, Anderson said.
Students work through a series of different scenarios that help them understand the kind of financial situations that they might find themselves in when they’re on their own, he said.
“They have to pay rent, they get a paycheck, they have to figure out how they’re going to have to pay for their car, they need to decide if they’re going to get a new car — the day-to-day dealings that they would run into in a regular life,” he said.
The goal of the program, he said, is for students to save to save $2,000 (of in game money) for college — based on how they answer the different situations as they go through the game will impact whether or not they are able to save up that kind of money.
“It’s about making choices, making good financial choices and hopefully learning those lessons in a game rather in real life when they’re on their own and run into these situations for real,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of kids learn on their own from bad a bad experience. We’re trying to reduce that exposure for less kids.”
About 125 students are exposed to the game at Kauai High.
“Overall, the kids have been engaged in the lesson,” he said. “When I can look down and I can see a 100 percent of my kids engaged in this versus if I was telling them about it or talking about it. From that standpoint, it’s been very positive for the students.”