Money Matters: Developing Students’ Financial Literacy

By: Gabriella Bemis
Financial literacy is a crucial life skill that empowers individuals to make informed decisions about money management, investments, and planning for the future. This National Financial Literacy Month, learn how CCA Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood high schoolers are being equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to confidently navigate the complexities of personal finance from a biblical perspective.

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When did you first learn to file your taxes or how credit cards worked? How did you learn about loans and interest rates and the various types of bank accounts? For many of us, this information was taught by either a parent, a college professor, or self-taught, as this type of curriculum wasn’t readily available to students – until now.

Legislative Change

This 2023-24 academic year brought a change for Florida’s young learners with the unanimous passing of Senate Bill 1054, titled the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act. This bill requires high school students in the state of Florida to complete a personal finance class in order to graduate.

This legislation will set high schoolers on a path toward success as they prepare to enter adulthood. Several years prior to this legislative change though, CCA Fort Lauderdale students were already required to take this course in order to graduate.
Several years prior to this legislative change though, CCA Fort Lauderdale students were already required to take this course in order to graduate.

Godly Financial Wisdom

Tenth and eleventh grade students at CCA’s Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood campus take Personal Finance, which teaches a faith-based approach to financial stewardship using Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance Curriculum.

In this 13-chapter course, students are introduced to various financial topics such as budgeting, saving, investing, college planning, debt management, taxes, housing and real estate, retirement planning, and even global economics.

What sets this class apart is the biblical perspective it offers regarding money, teaching students God’s heart for managing finances and practicing generosity.
What sets this class apart is the biblical perspective it offers regarding money, teaching students God’s heart for managing finances and practicing generosity. Students gain a biblical understanding of financial success, which is simply that we are called to be wise and faithful stewards of our possessions because they ultimately belong to God. This is a significant contrast from the current culture that places value on monetary wealth for one’s personal gain.

Another unique aspect of this course is that it also emphasizes personal calling and career choice. Students take part in an exercise that prompts them to explore their interests, passions, and skill sets to discover what careers best align with them.

“God put you on this earth to do something, and you need to figure out what that is so you can have not just a job, but a purpose,” said Mr. Tony Gigliotti, CCA Fort Lauderdale’s Personal Finance teacher.

Gamifying Financial Education

One of the ways Mr. Gigliotti makes this class relevant and hands on for his students is by having them compete in The Stock Market Game, which teaches them how to invest in the stock market in real time.

Students first research the market and learn about principles necessary to invest. Then, they’re given a figurative $100,000 to invest. Over the course of the semester, students compete against other schools across Florida for the highest earnings in their investments. CCA has ranked first and second place in the game for the last seven semesters in a row!

Lasting Impact

The goal of the Financial Literacy class is for its principles to impact students beyond high school. For some students, this influence has even shaped their career path. Nicholas Bates – a CCA Fort Lauderdale Class of 2021 alumnus – credits Mr. Gigliotti’s class and mentorship for his decision to pursue a career in the financial industry.

“Mr. G was one of my favorite teachers throughout high school. Not only because he is an effective communicator, but because he takes immense joy in spreading his knowledge beyond what course material alone requires,” said Nicholas.

Nicholas recalls taking part in The Stock Market Game, which sparked his passion for researching and valuing companies. Upon graduating from the University of Florida, Nicholas hopes to one day make the game his full-time career.

True Financial Success

In this current financial landscape, we all need to better understand the financial climate in order to make wise financial decisions. The Personal Finance class offered at CCA is just one way high school students will be taught to manage their finances and apply God’s wisdom to their lives.

As Christ followers, we’re all called to be faithful stewards of the things God’s given us. While we may live in a culture that emphasizes gaining riches and amassing earthly treasures, we can live counter culturally simply by how we view and handle our finances, cultivating heavenly riches and living a life of radical generosity.

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” —Proverbs 11:25

If you’re interested in learning more about managing your finances from a biblical perspective, check out the resources and classes offered at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale by clicking here.

Author Bio:
Gabi Bemis works in CCA’s Communications team as a Content Coordinator. She earned a master’s degree in Psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She enjoys serving alongside her husband, Scotty Bemis, in Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s worship team. When she’s not writing or singing at church, Gabi enjoys watching movies and playing games with her husband, spending time outdoors, and co-leading a small group with her friend Alyssa Mendez.

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