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Classes Can Help Western Montana Teens Gain ‘Financial Literacy’

You just got a tax return. Do you buy a new pair of boots or do you put at least part of the money into savings?

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You have no cash and no savings. How do you get antibiotics for your daughter?

Those are just some of the real-life scenarios posed to students through the Banzai financial literacy curriculum made available at no cost to teachers in Lake, Missoula and Ravalli counties through a sponsorship by the Missoula Federal Credit Union.

Laurie Job has used the curriculum in her Valley Christian School financial math class for several years and said the real-life scenarios hit home for students.

The program teaches students how to bank, budget and about consequences for choices, Job said.

“The mistakes they make in this scenario are not as expensive as the ones you make in your own life,” she said.

Learning how to be financially literate translates into financially independent adults, she said, adding she hears from former students about how they used financial skills from her class for life events, such as buying a car.

“I think it’s so practical and gives our kids such freedom,” she said about financial education.

Last year, almost 1,000 students in Missoula, Lake and Ravalli counties used the program, said Ginnie Morey, marketing director at Missoula Federal Credit Union.

Banzai is one of several free educational opportunities the credit union offers, including financial cornerstone classes and retirement planning and first-time home buyer seminars.

Teaching financial skills to kids is important to keep them out of financial trouble, such as credit card debt or taking out a payday loan, Morey said.

How people handle money has long-term impacts on their credit rating and their ability to buy a car or a house, she said.

“It’s pretty important stuff,” she added.

Morey said she often receives thank you notes from teachers for making the program available.

“It just reinforces that there’s a need for it there,” she said.

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit or call 888-8-BANZAI.

Banzai interactive courses are fun and FREE. Go ahead.