Auburn accounting students offer financial literacy fair at middle school in Auburn on March 1

Published: February 27, 2017
Updated: June 21, 2017
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Sarah Patrick didn't wait until college to understand how to balance a budget and a checking account or how credit cards can impact her personal finances. She carried the passion of financial literacy straight from high school into Auburn University's School of Accountancy.

"The way our economy is, financial literacy is something that a lot of young people are ill-informed about," said the junior from Hoover. "Whether it's the basics, like the difference between checking and savings accounts, or investing in stocks versus bonds, it's something that a lot of people are not super-educated on. These are things that we all must deal with, and to make sound financial decisions, you have to be educated on those basics. The earlier you can expose students to it, the better."

Patrick, who enjoyed Hoover High School's four-year Finance Academy program, will be among the dozens of School of Accountancy students to share basic finance lessons through a series of games and activities Wednesday, March 1, at Auburn's Drake Middle School in Harbert College's sixth-annual Financial Literacy Fair.

"I saw the impact that it [learning finances at an early age] had on me and my fellow students," said Patrick, who finished as runner-up in the recent Miss Auburn election–running on the platform of financial literacy.

"I know that if I had not been involved in the Finance Academy, then I would have never been exposed to these topics in the classroom. That's when it hit me. We, as high-schoolers, were never taught [in the classroom] how to balance a checkbook, how to balance a budget, those basic things. That's why I am so passionate about the Financial Literacy Fair–because it's working with these sixth-grade students here in Auburn. I truly believe that investing in this community is super important. Just because I'm here for four years doesn't mean I can just go to school and get out of here. It's important to give back to this community because it has supported the university for so many years."

Sarah Stanwick, professor in the School of Accountancy and organizer of the event, has a number of lesson-learning activities planned for the children. Other than balancing checkbooks and learning about debit/credit cards or making change, students will also learn the "secrets of the dollar bill." Students will learn about budgeting around town using a hypothetical $100. Would they rather save it for a toy or clothes? Would they want to use it for movies or going out to eat?

"We will also do a fun grocery store activity where the students get [play money] $20 and get to buy groceries," said Patrick, an active member of Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honor society. "It teaches them the value of the dollar and how much stuff costs today because I think that kids can sometimes assume that money grows on trees."