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Banzai Bonanza

Anyone who has followed this blog is aware of my belief in the importance of early financial education.

Originally posted on Forbes

Recently, I learned of Banzai, an innovative online program that not only stimulates financial literacy among youth, but does so for free. Here is Banzai’s Mark Larson to tell us more about the program, in his own words:

A lot of attention has been drawn recently to a national trillion-dollar debt crisis, stock markets fluctuating at record proportions, and devastating economic conditions.  However, there may be a “personal finance crisis” that is just as real, but isn’t receiving the same attention.

Financial literacy has become the catchphrase of choice for hundreds of institutions, programs and initiatives seeking to acknowledge, measure and improve basic understanding people have of their money. How funny it is that many of these programs exist simply to make more money. It’s like they are saying, “I’ll teach you how to use your money, if you just give me some of it.” That doesn’t sound right. It reminds me of my older brother, the pretended magician, when he said, “If you give me a 10 dollar bill, I can make it disappear!”

So where are the youth of today learning how to spend? In school?

You may find it as strange as I did that there is no budget in most schools for finance education. As peculiar as it sounds, education budgets have left no room for students to learn how to budget.

Banzai is an organization that seeks to create a generation of youth who understand their money and know how to use it wisely. They have created an interactive program that aligns with state requirements for teachers and utilizes real-life situations we all face everyday; in fact it won the 2010 Curriculum of the Year Award from the Institute of Financial Literacy. But here is the kicker: the program is completely free (as in no cost whatsoever) for the users of the program. This is possible because dozens of partners across the country see the need to teach sound fiscal behavior when kids are still forming lifelong habits, and sponsor Banzai in their local schools.

As it is with so many other things, it is easier to prepare than to repair. Why should understanding our money be any different? The best time to learn financial literacy is when we are young. For many of us, our first real lessons in budgeting and spending didn’t take place until we were in college. Suddenly, the money tree disappeared, and if we didn’t make a change quick, we created our own lovely little (or not so little) personal debt crisis.

Banzai is now being used in over 2,600 schools in all 50 states nationwide. With many schools across the nation struggling to solve their own budget problems, free programs like Banzai are helping more than just the future, they are helping solve problems now. Most importantly, individual students are getting the knowledge they need to make them better stewards of their money.

Banzai interactive courses are fun and FREE. Go ahead.