5 Things You May Not Know About Money

Money.  We use it daily, whether electronically or as cash (the demise of which is greatly exaggerated).  We are all are familiar with it in its current form.  But how much do you know about the history of money?  Use these five surprising facts to help history come alive for your students through currency.

1.  Before the Civil War, paper money could be issued by nearly anyone

Private Bank Note, Drover’s Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah, $3, 1856

Private Bank Note, Drover’s Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah, $3, 1856

Between 1837 and 1866, a period now often called the “Free Banking Era,” lax federal and state banking laws permitted virtually anyone to open a bank and issue currency. Paper money was issued by states, cities, counties, private banks, railroads, stores, and churches.  In the 1860s, an estimated 8,000 different state banks were circulating bank notes in denominations from ½ cent to $20,000!

These notes came in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs, and that combined with an environment of uneven regulations from area to area is widely considered to have increased the public’s appetite for centralized banking regulation.

As the American population moved Westward, some of the issuing institutions earned the dubious nickname “wildcat banks,” in reference to their remote locations, more accessible to wildcats than people.  The Free Banking Era ended with the passing of the National Bank Act of 1863.

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Why financial literacy is more important than ever

It’s easy to become complacent about our finances with the vast number of websites, apps, and businesses available today that specialize in helping people manage their money.  Granted, technology can be a powerful partner in financial management, but it cannot replace a strong understanding of factors that should inform decisions about how, where, and when we spend our money.

Why is financial literacy more important than ever?

Our financial landscape has grown increasingly complex.  Before a young person approaches college or a career, he or she is faced with big decisions on how much money to borrow for tuition, how much to save, how to invest, and how to grow and protect their budding wealth.


Image via GW Today

Dr. Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics and accountancy at the George Washington School of Business, wanted to test how financially literate populations are, both in the United States and internationally.  What she found was surprising.  She discussed her research recently at a TEDx Foggy Bottom gathering.

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Special upcoming event! Meet the Experts, August 15

Join us in San Francisco on August 15 for an exciting and unique opportunity! 

Meet the Experts is a speaker series designed to provide secondary and post-secondary educators with an opportunity to interact with leaders from throughout the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Our objective is to foster greater understanding about the roles and responsibilities of the Fed and to highlight emerging issues in the economy.

The event is a professional development opportunity that will bolster your knowledge about economics, and you will return to your students with fresh content and new teaching ideas.  Set yourself up for success in the upcoming school year and register today.

Confirmed speakers include:

2014-05-28 MTE-lineupJohn C. Williams, President and CEO of the SF Fed.  John is an expert on monetary policy and business cycles, and is a strong advocate for economic education.

Mark A. Gould, First VP and COO at the SF Fed.  Mark is responsible for all administration, operating, and financial services activities.  He is also product director of the Federal Reserve System’s Cash Product Office.

Mary C. Daly, Senior Vice President and Associate Director of Research at the SF Fed.  Mary specializes in labor markets, public economics, and social welfare.

Kevin Lansing,  Research Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.  Kevin specializes in macroeconomics, monetary economics, and asset pricing.

This event is open to high school, community college, and university educators. Students in teacher education programs are also welcome to attend. There is no fee for this event.

We are still in the planning stages of this event, and details are subject to change.  Please check back for updates.  Last year’s agenda will give you an idea of the exciting and informative content that will be included in the day.

Register now! We look forward to having you join us.

Our Education Advisory Group and their survey work with the flipped classroom model

We celebrate teachers all year for the work they do in the classroom for economic and personal finance education!  In honor of 2014 Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to put a bright and appreciative spotlight on the extraordinary teachers who make up our Education Advisory Group (EAG).

What is the SF Fed Education Advisory Group (EAG)?

2014 EAG croppedCurrently in its second year of existence, the EAG is a group of approximately 20 teachers from throughout the nine western states that comprise the 12th District. They work with us for a period of one year, providing feedback on content ideas, teaching activities, economic education resources, the use of technology, and best practices related to teaching about the Federal Reserve and the U.S. economy.  The EAG is a professional development opportunity for secondary and post-secondary educators who have a vested interest in economic and personal finance education.

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The Cash Lifecycle

You may not know this about the Fed, but we do more than monetary policy.  We also play a central role in the nation’s payment systems. Reserve Banks keep enough currency and coin in circulation to meet public demand, provide check collection services to banks and other depository institutions, operate electronic payment systems, and provide financial services to the U.S. government and certain foreign institutions.  This week, we’re focusing on cash – past and present – and are also highlighting some of the work from our Cash Product Office.

Money, Money, Money

Cash stirs the imagination. It’s a driving plot element and character in thousands of books, movies, television shows, and songs. We think about it, dream about it, talk about it, work for it, save it, and spend it. At its most basic level, cash—currency and coin—is essentially a store of value for obtaining the goods and services you need for your daily life.

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Entrepreneurship, budgeting, and how to finance college

IMG_5063Last month, we had a great day of discussion on personal finance and entrepreneurship with nearly 400 amazing students from girls’ schools in Honolulu.  We ran three interactive sessions designed to introduce students to the topics of budgeting, learning how to finance college, and understanding the purposes and functions of the Fed.   The day was capped off with a panel discussion on entrepreneurial leadership.

Students from Honolulu’s La Pietra and Saint Andrew’s Priory joined their peers at Sacred Hearts Academy for the day, supported in part by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS).

Manage your money.  Don’t let it manage you.

Our session on personal finance stressed the importance of creating a budget, as well as the need to understand investment options, risk, and rates of return.  Young people need to be proactive instead of reactive with their money.   We used a modified version of this lesson plan during the session; feel free to download it and use it in your own classroom.

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Why is this blog going to be great for teachers?

Thank you for visiting our blog!  We’re going to be working hard to make this space your go-to spot for economics and personal finance education materials that can be quickly and easily integrated into your existing curriculum.

Although the full list of our materials will remain on our website, this blog will be a space for announcements about our freshest content, exciting upcoming events (both in-person and virtual), and a place for discussion with both us and your colleagues about economics and personal finance education.

We look forward to working with you, and want to know: what kinds of content would you like to see on our blog?  Add a comment!