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Financial literacy classes teach Florida high schoolers to manage their money

New state law requires all freshmen to take course in personal financial literacy, money management
Martin County High School teacher Terrell Mabins leads a financial literacy course on Sept. 14, 2023.jpg
Posted at 3:34 PM, Sep 14, 2023

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Florida students will now leave high school better prepared to manage their money.

The state's new requirement for students to complete a financial literacy course kicks in for this year's freshman class.

Lessons being taught in a financial literacy course at Martin County High School on Sept. 14, 2023.jpg
Lessons being taught in a financial literacy course at Martin County High School on Sept. 14, 2023.

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Inside a personal finance class at Martin County High School, students like Emmanuel Louis are learning how to manage their money in ways they never thought of before.

"It's an eye opener," Louis said. "I actually am enjoying this class. It's showing me how the real world is and how money is taken care of once we get older."

Martin County graduate and first-year teacher Terrell Mabins took on the challenge of developing and teaching this brand new course.

"It's easier to get behind something that you can see the true value of them learning these things," Mabins said. "These are real world, real life things that they're learning. So it's easy to buy into that."

Martin County High School teacher Terrell Mabins leads a financial literacy course on Sept. 14, 2023 (2).jpg
Martin County High School teacher Terrell Mabins leads a financial literacy course on Sept. 14, 2023.

The class goes through a simulation of making money and watching it drain from their bank account.

"It's interesting to see those light bulbs click for them," Mabins said.

As part of their real world experience, the students are picking an occupation out of a basket like real estate and rentals. That gives them an idea of their salary.

"This is our pacing calendar for our budget challenge. So our simulation starts today. They all get their first paycheck and this is how they'll keep track of their money and their bills they have to pay," Mabins said.

Martin County High School teacher Terrell Mabins leads a financial literacy course on Sept. 14, 2023 (1).jpg
Martin County High School teacher Terrell Mabins leads a financial literacy course on Sept. 14, 2023.

"These are things I think we all wish we were taught in school," WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind said to Mark Cowles, the social studies coordinator for the Martin County School District.

"Absolutely," Cowles replied.

WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind speaks to Mark Cowles, the social studies coordinator for the Martin County School District, on Sept. 14, 2023.jpg
WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind speaks to Mark Cowles, the social studies coordinator for the Martin County School District, on Sept. 14, 2023.

Cowles said all freshman will now take the required one semester course that covers everything from budgeting to insurance and taxes.

Under a new state law, beginning with students entering grade ninth in the 2023-24 school year, each student must earn one-half credit in personal financial literacy and money management.

"Hopefully what it's going to do is spark conversation at home," Cowles said. "So to the parents out there, ask about financial literacy. Talk about the decisions you are making as a family. Your students may be the experts by the end of the semester."

A student takes a financial literacy class at Martin County High School on Sept. 14, 2023.jpg
A student takes a financial literacy class at Martin County High School on Sept. 14, 2023.

"I'm learning things I didn't know," Mabins said. "I wish I had this class when I was a freshman. The things they are learning so early on, maybe I wouldn't have the debt that I have if I knew some of this stuff."

Skills in the classroom to make their lives richer.

Under the new law, the instruction must also include lessons on opening and managing a bank account, balancing a checkbook, managing debt, credit scores, completing a loan application, interest rates, simple contracts, and different types of savings and investments, among other things.