Teaching financial literacy, one goal at a time

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Suppose your teenager came to you needing help answering homework questions on finance—would you be able to answer correctly or know where to find help? Consider questions like these:

Which are the two most important factors when determining someone’s creditworthiness?

 

A. Payment history and amounts owed

B. Length of credit history and amounts owed

C. Types of credit currently used and payment history

D. Number of credit inquiries made and amounts owed

When you buy stock in a company, you buy:

A. A guaranteed profit from the company

B. A certain quantity of the company’s products

C. A part of the actual company itself

D. A piece of paper with the company’s logo

Those are just two of the hundreds of questions found in “Financial Soccer,” a free, interactive and multilingual video game created by Visa Inc. and the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which is the international soccer governing body that sponsors the World Cup competition.

Incorporating soccer’s structure and rules, Financial Soccer is designed to teach children and young adults how to achieve personal financial literacy; that is, to acquire the knowledge and tools they will need to establish and maintain sound financial habits over a lifetime. A computer-based game, Financial Soccer can either be played online or on CD-ROM.

Avid fans are drawn by soccer’s rapid pace and the need for strategy and teamwork to win. They know that simple missteps can quickly change which team controls the ball. Financial Soccer replicates the game’s “beat-the-clock” atmosphere, as questions flash on screen in rapid succession.

Players can choose among easy, medium and hard questions. The harder the question you answer correctly, the more ground you gain. But if you answer incorrectly or too slowly, however, the other team steals the ball, forcing you to answer the next question correctly in order to recapture it.

Players can compete either individually against the computer or on teams. There are three distinct game difficulty levels: children, teens and adults. Supplemental teaching modules are also included for parents and teachers who want to take the learning process to the next level.

Topics covered by Financial Soccer include:

•Different types of interest

•Advantages and potential pitfalls of overdraft protection

•Consequences of having a poor credit rating

•What to do in case of identity theft

•Items covered under renter’s or homeowner’s insurance

•Different types of banking and credit card fees

•How mortgage points work

•Ways to improve creditworthiness

Financial Soccer will be called Financial Football in other parts of the world, where the game we know as soccer is called football. The game was unveiled at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City in late September. Governments, educators, nonprofit organizations and businesses will roll out Financial Soccer in over a dozen countries leading up to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa next summer.

To play Financial Soccer online for free visit http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com. Oh, by the way, the correct answers for the questions above are: Question 1 (a); Question 2 (c).

(Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. To sign up for a free monthly personal finance e-Newsletter, go to http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/newsletter.)

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