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  • Writer's pictureProject PAVE

Financial literacy, mental health, and healthy realtionships...

PAVE’s Intervention groups focus on a lot of different social-emotional topics – identity and self-esteem, trust, boundaries, trauma, etc.

Recently, we’ve been talking about money.

This all started when a student requested the topic last semester. However, once we began incorporating financial literacy into our Social Emotional Learning Facilitation Groups, more and more students expressed interest in it.

Why do so many students want to discuss money? And how does money connect with the social/emotional topics we usually discuss?

After bringing this conversation to a number of classes, the reasons became obvious. Students in high school are feeling the effects of inflation and the rising costs of living as much as any of us, and financial instability has a huge impact on mental health, regardless of age.

Working on ourselves is important, but none of us can emotionally regulate our way out of financial hardship. Many students already work. They earn paychecks. They pay bills. They have financial goals, even if they’re not quite sure how to reach them. For most students, these groups are the first time they’ve had conversations around financial literacy.

Is returning an item for a full refund an example of being frugal or being cheap? This question sparked a debate in which students described their values around money and how they expect their friends and partner(s) to share similar values.

A conversation about how rent and utilities should be split between roommates lead to students voicing, often for the first time, their boundaries around their money. When students talked about placing bets on who would win the Super Bowl, we talked about the risks and rewards of investing. Tracking living expenses on a monthly budget resulted in students readjusting their spending in order to save and plan for future financial goals.

Before this school year, I probably wouldn’t have thought financial literacy fit into the social-emotional topics our groups usually discuss. After bringing it to schools, students have been making connections I didn’t see, and it’s deepening their understanding of the topics we’ve been covering all along.

How might financial literacy be affecting your relationships?

- Nick Sabolik, Project PAVE

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