by Cori Hilsgen
Avon resident and certified public accountant Christine Panek wants children and teenagers to avoid making costly financial decisions. She has created Financial Adventure, an online hands-on subscription-based financial learning program for youth.
Panek said in her 20 years of accounting practice she often saw adults who ran their own businesses, but lacked basic knowledge of financial concepts.
She said these concepts are not taught to children in schools. Some unstructured information can be found on the Internet, but it takes time to locate the information.
Panek’s program is designed for parents to share monthly with their children and includes a series of lessons for children and teenagers, which can be both rewarding and educational.
The program teaches about earning, saving, spending and sharing money through monthly adventure packets.
“Our goal is to have subscribers experience hands-on financial education while they unconsciously create good life-changing financial habits while having fun and getting rewarded,” Panek said.
After ordering the program, families will receive a packet of age-appropriate learning tools and activities monthly. Children will experience a Financial Adventure Journey about banking, checking and savings accounts, the economy, credit and debt, and more.
Answer sheets and adult tips help parents facilitate shared discussions. The website includes some free services about activities parents can do with their children. Certificates of achievement are also included.
Parents can register for free Financial Adventure Activities to arrive in their email. Monthly blogs share information with parents and they can also access Internet resources and tools through several links.
Panek suggests parents purchase a Starter Kit which includes a calculator, checkbook and awards tracker for each month, for their children.
Financial Adventure journeys are designed for three age groups – Piggy’s for ages 5-7, Kids and Teens for ages 8-18 and Teens Advanced which challenges ages 13-18.
Participants receive rewards such as stickers, ribbons and medals after completing monthly and yearly adventures. The Teens Advanced participants can earn a trophy.
“Awards and trophies are often presented to children who excel in sports, but usually not for academics,” Panek said. “We’ve incorporated various rewards into the Financial Adventure program. Kids and teens can earn ribbons, medals and even a trophy.”
Panek’s daughter, Rachel Panek, 12, has used the program throughout its design phase.
“I love getting ribbons when I finish my Financial Adventure,” Rachel said. “Using the checkbook makes me feel like an adult.”
Panek said financial illiteracy is a national epidemic for young and old and is not always addressed by schools.
“Our proprietary educational materials will minimize generational financial illiteracy and demonstrate we make a difference by starting with our children,” Panek said. “Programs are designed for busy parents/adults wanting to make an impact on their children and we are making it easier than ever. We are financially empowering youth to successfully manage money as adults.”
Panek also teaches her Financial Adventure classes throughout the area. The curriculum is available for purchase and can be taught by professionals. Banking and credit union professionals, certified public accountants, educators, financial advisors and other people who are interested in teaching financial skills to area youth might be interested in the program.
Some businesses might also want to provide the Financial Adventure starter kits for kids and teens as incentives for events or other promotions.
Panek said a recent national Financial Educators Council literacy test showed that 46 percent of more than 8,400 participants, ages 15-18 failed a test of 30 questions, scoring 60 percent or lower.
The fee-based subscription service, or gift subscription can be purchased online at the website FinancialAdventure.com. The monthly packages start at $10.95/month. Gift certificates and gift subscriptions are also available online.
“This is a good way to invest in the financial future of your children,” Panek said.
For additional information email info@FinancialAdventure.com or call 320-260-6491.