School of Dollars and Sense

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    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    hi our names are josh and jessi and this is a picture of an adorable duckling. he is about to be an apt metaphor forthe communication problem our design intervention is trying to solve.

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    this is an xkcd comic demonstrating a duck-loop. ducklings need a leader. without the mother to follow, they could get stuck in a supercute but ultimately fruitless circle, never getting anywhere, never making any progress. the communication problem we seek to solve isthe ease of conversation between families, and particularly between parents and children, about money matters. when parents andfamilies have a hard time talking to their kids about nances, people grow up with a shaky understanding, and might be thrown in overtheir heads once they have to start taking care of their money and bills and budgeting all on their own. then, they struggle through untilthey get the hang of things enough to get by. unfortunately, they will likely have a hard time expressing to their own kids how theyve

    gured things out, because they dont have any model of, or experience with, how those conversations should go. This means that theirkids, just like them, may end up struggling, perpetuating the loop.

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    our design intervention, the school of dollars and sense, would help put the mama duck back into the duckloop.

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    AWWWWW DUCKS R GREAT

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    the school of dollars and sense takes the form of 5 levels of workbooks for families with school-age children. theseworkbooks would be distributed through a school organization not unlike operation aware or junior achievement,ideally with some sort of simulation or interactive experience to stimulate thinking to kick things o f within theschool environment.

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    each book level introduces a few age-friendly topics with puzzles, quizzes, real-life practice suggestions, and discussionquestions. our hope is that these books can help overcome the awkwardness or confusion of talking about money and pavethe way for a continuous dialogue of growing complexity up until the child becomes responsible for his own nances, which hewill be able to handle without panic because he's been practicing, and he knows that he has someone to turn to for advice andreassurance

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    the books are double-sided, so that the adults and children would collaborate, encouraging a level of teamworkand support. reading from one direction speaks directly to the kids, while the other is written for parents andmentors.

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    by providing a communal touchstone for both adults and children, lled with simple information and frameworksfor further discussion and life experiences, the school of dollars and sense would help everyone, regardless of income level, blaze a trail for healthy and REALISTIC dialogue between the family about nances. this dialogue canallow children to step condently into responsibilities, even when they are young, which is not only helpful for thefuture but can also allow them to begin to help take care of business in the here and now.

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    each level is represented by a denomination of american money. for kindergartners through 2nd graders, for instance, is levelone, or the "pennies," and so on all the way up to the "dollars," who are about to graduate from high school. the familyteaching guide features just that money,

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    while the fronts feature families holding up the metaphorical weight of money together.

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    the notion here is that once a conversation is begun with a child, it will be easier to keep up that dialogue all throughoutadolescence and the growing-up period, without the need for one, or even several, big, uncomfortable capital-t talks whereinthe adult lectures and the child listens passively.

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    their curricula vary widely from level to level. level one, for instance, could include the basics of coins, and how they addtogether, along with instructions to have a hunt for change and count whatever you nd, and encouragement for adults to lettheir young children help them pay for small purchases using cash.

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    level three, for instance, could contain an introduction to checking accounts and how to use them. families in this level wouldbe encouraged to start a junior checking account for their kids.

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    MP

    123456789 1234567

    pay to theorder of

    dollars

    date

    for

    Your Bank

    1234 Main St. Apt. 101

    Kansas City, MO. 64112

    Address of Your Bank

    Kansas City, MO. 64112

    1001

    $

    name

    Your name andmailing address areprinted here whenyou order checks.

    The name of theperson or companyto whom the checkis written goes here.

    The location ofyour checkingaccount goes here.

    The name of theperson or companyto whom the checkis written goes here.

    This number is yourchecking accountnumber. You shouldtry to memorize it!

    On this line, you willwrite out the dollaramount in full wordsending with and(?)/100 to denoteany change.

    In this box, you writein numerals the dollaramount of the check,including decimals.

    This is each check snumber. This allowsyou to track whichchecks go where, andwhen they go through.

    You will put the datehere when you writea check so that youcan track spending.

    Your signature will gohere when you aredone writing a check.It s signing a contract.

    This routing number,used by electronicprocessors, refersto your bank.

    Anatomy Checkof a

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    and these books would include diagrams explaining how to ll out checks...

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    Anatomy Deposit Slipof a

    date

    Account Number

    Your Bank

    Cash

    Checks

    TOTAL

    Less Cash

    Subtotal

    Address of Your Bank

    Kansas City, MO. 64112

    name

    Here is where youwrite today s date.

    Here is where youwrite your name.

    If you successfullymemorized youraccount number,write it here. If not,you can look at oneof your checks tofind it. The bankteller can also helpyou, if necessary!

    Your bank s info willalready be printedon your deposit slip.

    In these rows, youwill write the amountseparately for eachcheck you want todeposit. If you needmore rows than this,there are often morespaces on the backof the deposit slip.

    In this row, you willwrite how manydollars & cents youwant to deposit incash. If you re notdepositing any cash,go ahead and leavethis row blank.

    These are the decimalcolumns. Change upto a dollar belongs inthese columns.

    In this row, you writethe total sum of all

    the cash and all thechecks you havelisted so far.

    These are the dollarcolumns. Write yourdollars so that thesingle dollars are inthe column closest tothe decimals.

    In this row, you writehow much cash youwould like back afterthe transaction.

    In the last row, youwill write the total ofyour deposit minusyour cash back. Thisis the money you areactually putting inthe bank.

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    and deposit slips.

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    level ve, targeted towards high school juniors and seniors, would have information about nancial aid, toembolden even those who arent sure if college is an option to at least nd out what there is, and a place to writedown notes about the colleges they research,

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    total

    Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

    weektotal

    Weekly Budgeting

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    as well as advice on how to create a realistic budget and places to track spending.

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    lastly, a fun opportunity for feedback can be found in the notion of students being able to bring completed workbooks, signedby both parents and students, back to the organization to redeem for a tshirt to symbolize completion of the level andeventually the whole program. then, ideally, the student would be ready to take on the nancial world by themselves, welleducated, well supported, and unafraid.

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    and when they have children of their own, students of the school of dollars and sense canfeel condent in their ability to share their knowledge and experience, too.

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