When it comes to financial institutions, big banks are often seen as the bad guys that have gotten a bad reputation because of higher fees and past run-ins with government regulators. While they might not have low fees or competitive rates when compared with smaller banks or credit unions, big banks fill a vital role in the American economy and financial system and provide accessible bank accounts and products to millions of consumers.
Bank of America is one big bank that is changing their image with the use of their “Better Money Habits” financial tool, created in partnership with Khan Academy. A Bank of America study found that 71 percent of respondents thought the internet made it easier to learn about personal finance, and “Better Money Habits” is such a resource. The purpose of the “Better Money Habits” financial tool is to empower consumers and provide much-needed financial education and resources for Americans.
Here we review “Better Money Habits” and the tools it provides to help you know if it could benefit your finances.
What Is “Better Money Habits”?
Bank of America partnered with Khan Academy, an online source of free education for parents and teachers, to create “Better Money Habits.” The “Better Money Habits” website (BetterMoneyHabits.com) offers free tools and information about several personal finance topics, and can be viewed with virtually any device with an internet connection. Its online, self-guided format gives users a flexible way to learn about finances at their own pace, reviewing topics as needed and applying the advice to their own situation.
At BetterMoneyHabits.com, you can find educational videos and infographics for the following topics:
- Saving and budgeting
- Home buying and renting
- Car buying
- Personal banking and security
- Paying for school
Unfortunately, the site is missing a crucial financial topic: retirement planning. Hopefully Bank of America plans to create a section on retirement planning and savings, since it is never too early to start saving.
“Better Money Habits” Financial Tools
Setting Financial Goals
The site prompts users to pick a financial goal that then links them to several helpful videos and articles that provide comprehensive information on the topic, along with practical and actionable steps to guide you to accomplishing that specific goal. For example, clicking on the goal, “Saving for my education” leads to a page of five videos and an infographic.
The best thing about these videos is that they are actually quite helpful and thought-provoking. Many times financial institutions will offer financial education resources that are too vague to really be useful or provide only commons sense or basic advice. The videos on “Better Money Habits” explain financial advice in depth, while still being engaging and relatable for all users.
One video, “The math behind saving for college”, helps parents know how much to save for college each year for the next 18 years and takes many often-overlooked factors into consideration, such as the projected cost of college tuition and how much return you will receive off of initial investments.
Testing Your Knowledge and Earning Points
You can earn points as you go through BetterMoneyHabits.com, which will then build up your overall site rank and earn you badges. You will earn 100 points for watching a video, reading an infographic, or using one of the site’s interactive worksheets. You can then earn 50 points for every question you answer correctly through Key Takeaway quizzes. Finally, you can earn 10 points every time you share content through social media, rate content, or leave feedback. The site also has bonus point opportunities hidden throughout the site.
The points do not connect to individual bank accounts or credit cards, and the points cannot be redeemed for actual prizes outside of the site badges. Rather, the purpose of the points is to test users’ comprehension and encourage them keep growing their financial knowledge in a fun way. While some adults might not enjoy the “Better Money Habits” achievement system, it could be a good motivator for children and teenagers. In fact, this free financial education tool would be complementary to any teacher’s financial study unit.
Benefits of Bank of America’s “Better Money Habits”
Bank of America put together an impressive collection of financial knowledge. All individuals, even those that bank with another institution, can benefit from the knowledge on the “Better Money Habits” website. Education is power, and the more you know about your finances, the better equipped you will be to make wise financial decisions.
Many people have received a lackluster financial education through their parents and schooling. Don’t let this be an excuse for poor money management and out-of-control debt. Instead, embrace free resources and tools like “Better Money Habits.”
As a parent, you can help your children have the right foundation for financial wisdom by watching these videos and participating in the quizzes. The site may not offer tangible rewards for collecting points, but parents can set their own rewards for children based on badges earned on BetterMoneyHabits.com, like a fun trip or a deposit into their savings account.
Photo credit: Mike Mozart