University of Georgia Extension agent Rachel Hubbard is instilling lifelong, positive financial habits in Lanier County students.
“By the time we’re adults, many of our money habits are already in place,” said Rachel Hubbard, Family and Consumer Sciences agent for Lanier County. “It’s much harder to change those habits as adults. When we start [teaching] them as children, they start developing good habits with money and are less likely to be in debt and have financial problems.”
Hubbard worked with two Extension agents and a financial management specialist at UGA to formulate a strategy to teach youth about financial literacy skills. The team came up with “Savings Makes Cents,” a lesson developed to be part of the UGA Extension curriculum titled “Your Money, Your Future.” Hubbard collaborated with the local Family Connections director and Farmers and Merchants Bank to provide savings education to young students in Lanier County.
The money-saving initiative began a couple of years ago after the team noticed that the rate of savings was declining. Hubbard realized there didn’t appear to be any programs aimed at teaching youth the importance of saving.
“We figured we needed to tackle that issue and start teaching them at a young age so that when they get out on their own, they can manage their finances,” she said.
Savings Makes Cents teaches sixth grade students how and why to save money. Hubbard and her team provide informative lectures to the students, as well as hands-on learning. The program takes place once a year in the students’ classroom, usually after standardized testing. “We have one day where we go into every single sixth grade classroom,” Hubbard added.
One goal for Savings Makes Cents is to show students that “they do have money and they need to start planning what they’re going to do with their money.” Hubbard wants to see students saving money and thinking about their future goals. She also hopes to see students opening savings accounts at the local bank.
Farmers and Merchants Bank provides each student with a savings account certificate. In 2013, five students used the certificate provided by the bank to open a personal savings account.
Hubbard is spreading the knowledge and message of Savings Makes Cents among other Extension agents, though some agents in Georgia are already teaching the Savings Makes Cents curriculum. She, along with a team of three other 4-H agents, are teaching the curriculum at this week’s national 4-H meeting in Minnesota. Extension agents from across the country are learning the curriculum and how to apply it in their counties.
“We explain the activities and how we use them, but also give them different options for how they can do it,” Hubbard said, of the activities that go along with the lessons. “They can tailor it to their own specific needs.”
Extension agents that use the curriculum are bound to see the impressive results of students’ saving habits that Hubbard has seen while teaching the program. In 2013, 97 percent of students in the program learned something new about savings, and 78 percent planned to save money for future goals.
For more information or to contact the Lanier County Extension office, visit their website.
(Jordan Hill is an intern with the UGA Tifton Campus.)