Program teaches kids money sense


Andrea Morehead/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A local mother is bringing her money sense to Indiana classrooms. The Money Bus is a mobile financial literacy classroom that teaches kids about earning, saving, spending, giving, budgeting and making sound financial decisions. Liz Coit is a woman you should know.

Kids at Valley Mills Elementary School in Decatur Township learn a lot from playing. One valuable lesson is taking turns on the basketball court. Everyone gets a shot to get it in the hoop. The students are also learning money sense.

"A credit card is cool but I don't think it's cool to pay more for something if you don't have to," said one student.

Fourth graders here are getting some lessons about the cost of money and how abusing it can send you down a financial rollercoaster. It's the pitfall Liz Coit wants indiana children to avoid.

"It's about behaviors and values and like literacy itself, if you don't start very young, you're really not going to accomplish what you need to by the time you're an adult," said Coit.

This mother's idea to teach kids about money management has turned into the Money Bus. But before the kids reach the interactive classroom, they learn the technical skills and process of banking in a simulated bank.

"It's gonna teach me early enough so when I get older I'll know how to do it," explained one student.

Here's how it works: Each fourth grader pretends to have one of six different jobs such as washing cars at their own house, dog walking or mother's helpers.

They earn $100, and just like an adult, they take the money and deposit their earnings in the bank. They must sign their name to get cash back and they use decimal points to help them count. Students practice signing their name in cursive.

Just like grown-ups, they wait in line for the next available teller.

"This is your opening statement. It tells you how much money is in your savings account and how much is in your checking account," said Coit.

All of the students get a debit card. "We talk to them about security and this is your card and we have to keep it safe because it's like being able to access your account," said Coit.

One tip for kids: think of the word "credit" in red so that they approach it with caution. That money tip and others are reinforced by celebrities like Tori Allen, Larry Bird, Jermaine O'Neal and even Channel 13's Chris Wright, who says it's best to save money so you can have all the things you need and some of the things you want.

If they want to get on the money bus and the lesson of wants versus needs is reinforced, it's an endless field trip where the right answers earn them more money.

Liz Coit and her money bus also teaches kids to give back to others. These adult lessons are taught early: Hold on to your money and budget wisely, because "If you don't and you spend it all, you might go broke," in the words of one student.

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