A Credit Curriculum That's a Fun, Easy & Effective Part of Adult Financial Education

"I didn't have a good curriculum for credit and didn't feel comfortable teaching about credit. I didn't know enough myself," says Joi Boyd, Social Service Program Specialist with the Advocacy and Empowerment division of Louisville Metro Community Services. After all, credit is a difficult topic which can be daunting for financial educators – who already know that doing classes on personal finance can be a hard sell to students.

"Teaching credit is hard and I didn't want to give anyone the wrong advice," says Boyd, who limited the amount of time she devoted to credit, often just giving out pamphlets to people in her classes. "Before, I'd hardly cover credit – maybe for 10 minutes – and then just refer students to other people who knew about credit."

The challenge was to teach a class about credit reports, credit scores and credit cards in a way that really helped students understand the material – and do it in a fun way, which has become a central part of Boyd's approach to financial literacy.

"I want my classes to be fun. I don't want to bore people," says Boyd, who encourages discussion, plays jazz music and gives out door prizes in her classes.

She teaches a financial education series called "Finance For You." Geared for participants who meet low-income requirements, the 6-week course meets once per week for two hours in the evening. The participants, who are mostly in their 20s and 30s, start the financial education course by tracking their spending. On the second night, they use Money Habitudes cards to better understand their financial habits and attitudes. Then the class moves on to cover the topic of credit, which is something that many students come in thinking isn't relevant to them, says Boyd.

To teach the credit class, Boyd uses The Good Credit Game. However, before using it with students, she cleared her calendar and spent a day going through the teaching package and credit lessons by herself.

"When I got the kit, I thoroughly did each activity myself. And I looked at them from both sides. What would it be like to do it as a teacher and as a student? It was comfortable for me to explain how to do it as a teacher – and it was comfortable for me to do it as a student," says Boyd of the credit curriculum pack. "I was playing it by myself and having a good time!"

Using it in her class, she immediately noticed how engaged participants were in the activities and the material – a rarity when many financial education classes struggle to keep students' attention. In fact, the first time she used the credit education kit, she let participants continue their discussion on the very first activity – Would You Make The Loan, using the Build-a-Person cards – and the students happily spent the whole class talking about the credit issues that came up.

"We couldn't finish because we were so engrossed in the discussion. It was really great. There was so much to talk about, so much they were learning, so much that they'd never thought about. I loved that! The game really produces a lot of discussion. The students actually asked me if they could set up another night to come back and play the rest of the game," she says.

In addition, the focus on fostering discussions with small group activities meant that there was a level of comfort in the class that prompted people to share and learn from each other – even sharing what might be embarrassing financial stories and issues.

"I think they left much smarter about credit. I think it made them more aware of the importance of credit. What kept coming up is how people said they wanted to share this information with their families," says Boyd. "I think The Good Credit Game would help anyone on any level."