Intuit-owned Mint.com, the service that made budgeting a fun task, has partnered with Scholastic to offer a free, online personal-finance program to middle-school students, teachers, and parents. The program aims to help build money management skills at a young age. It will feature colorful classroom lesson plans and materials, as well as an interactive game, that should translate to younger audiences.
The materials are expected to be available for teachers beginning today, and will have a nationwide distribution to 30,000 classroom and 100,000 students by early next year.
"I think we're probably the first to have created an actual interactive game on personal finance," says Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com, who explains that the lessons will emphasize budgeting, money management goals, and teaching students basic concepts such as compound interest. The program is based on a Intuit survey which found that nearly half of responding parents said that schools have the most responsibility to teach kids about financial literacy.
But why would Mint be interested in targeting such a young demographic?
"In not more than five years, these kids will be needing to manage student loans and credit cards and a bank account, and we want to get them on good financial habits straight-away," Patzer tells Fast Company. "If you look at the Mint demographic, we've accessed an age group that before us was unheard-of in the finacial industry. Quite frankly, most of the industry is geared around weatlhy men aged 45 to 60, but half of Mint users are in their 20s, and we have a huge number of college students and late- teens that are using Mint to manage their finances."
Offering these programs to young ages will get students used to personal finance, but also help familiarize them with what Mint.com has to offer. The lesson plans are designed with activities to take home and complete with parents, which will help foster more awareness for the Mint brand among older generations too.
Why hasn't this been done before? Has personal finance just been too tough to teach? "It's not that inaccessible or that complicated—it's pretty basic math—not calculus or trigonometry," says Patzer, "I think a lot of it has to do with teachers themselves not knowing a lot about personal finance."
Patzer hopes Mint will help change that.