Sharing your own money mistakes and how you fixed them is a great way to help students learn

When it comes to teaching financial education and career planning, the question of whether students learn best from lectures, by reading, or by hearing stories is not much different than any other learning situation. Different students will respond differently to various teaching methods.

But research has shown that storytelling may be the most powerful tool of the three for its ability to make abstract and complex ideas relatable and more memorable. And, a more personal story helps students connect emotionally with the material, increases their engagement and improves their motivation to learn more.

Particularly when it comes to a topic that everyone cares about – money!

“It’s good to know how to spend money. The short time I was around you, I saw what success looks like, and where I come from, I don’t see it often.” – Student to his SecureFutures volunteer instructor

Failure stories work better than success stories

In a 2019 study at the University of Chicago, researchers attempted to test the hypothesis that learning from other people’s mistakes and failures was a better way to learn than from stories of success. The researchers asked a group of teachers to recall a time they had succeeded in the classroom and a time they had failed. When asked which story they would choose to share with new classroom teachers, most of the study group chose their success story. After all, it’s human nature for us to want to look good to others.

As discussed in this Inc. magazine article, the study revealed that it was precisely because participants were more concerned about how they might be perceived instead of how helpful they could be, they overlooked the value of sharing failures.

“I went on a spending spree when I got my first credit card, never reading the fine print or realizing that I’d be charged interest on the unpaid balance every month.” – SecureFutures instructor/staff member

According to Laura Carstensen, a psychology professor at Stanford University, studies suggest that we are more likely to notice and remember negative experiences over positive ones. Our brains have been hardwired through evolution to focus on the negative as a means to survive danger. Negative stories get more attention than positive ones because they’re processed on a deeper, more emotional level, which leads to them being remembered much longer.

Students are watching

Even with all the obvious distractions in our world today, teens are still watching the adults around them and deciding whether or not to mirror the behaviors and lifestyles they see.

“What kind of car do you drive, and how much did it cost?” – Student to his SecureFutures volunteer instructor

Sharing failures from your own financial journey and the often tough lessons learned from them is a very powerful way for students to learn. That you somehow messed up shows kids you’re as human as anyone else – and your efforts to fix and learn from your failure lets them know that they, too, can recover from a money or credit mistake.

Early in my business career, I didn’t pay attention to my bank balance and bounced a check. The $29 charge from the bank was going to hurt, but I was able to get the fee reversed by going to the bank, apologizing, and pointing out my otherwise good banking record. – SecureFutures volunteer instructor

Your partner in teaching financial capability

After sharing your own financial journey, Money Path will help you take your students on a journey of their own as they consider the life-long impact of their education and career choices. And just like the stories you’ve shared, this unique tool will also help them learn important life lessons today so they can avoid financial challenges later.

Money Path is a comprehensive web-based app that links academic and career planning with financial planning. Through a personalized, technology-based experience, students can:

  • Explore different life paths after high school, whether it’s college, an apprenticeship, military service, or direct entry into the workforce
  • Investigate the cost of higher education, and plan how to manage student debt
  • Customize a monthly budget based on their projected starting salary
  • Learn creative ways to save for important financial goals like emergencies, a home, or retirement
  • Compare several different personalized life paths side-by-side

Money Path provides an experience unlike any other personal finance tools on the market. And, it’s currently available at no cost to Wisconsin schools thanks to the generosity of sponsors. Even more significantly, students have access to the Money Path app and its valuable planning tools as long as they need it.

Contact the SecureFutures team to find out how to bring Money Path to your students today, or visit Learn more here or request a Money Path demonstration here.