If you take out a $1,000 loan that has a 20 percent rate, how much will you owe a year in interest? Answer: $200.

If you got that wrong, you’re not alone. Nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t calculate interest payments correctly, according to Fortune.com. About a third said they didn’t even know how.

The Hettie Halstead Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization turned Christmas shopping into an opportunity to teach financial literacy to students and help them plan now for their future.

The PTO organized a Kids Korner Santa Shoppe, which allowed students to choose and purchase gifts for their families, said Halstead Parent Liaison Sandra Ziehlke.

“We use the money each student has available to spend as his budget. They have to count and know how much they have to spend at the shop. Then, they have to make some financial decisions, like figuring out who they are buying for and how much to spend on each gift,” Ziehlke said. “Financial literacy is part of the math curriculum in Texas. The concepts of financial literacy a student learns about depends on their grade level. However, income and budgeting are in the standards from kindergarten through fifth grade. The Santa Shoppe gives our students a chance to learn from a real life experience.”

The PTO helped the students make good choices and budget by having the students come and preview the items.

The students had an organized way to think, plan and budget in order to buy their family’s gifts. The students took the wish list home with a money envelope, so parents could assist them in the budgeting process.

Parent volunteers and adopted unit soldiers provided assistance to the students in making their selections and purchases and ensuring their items fit within their financial constraints.

Fifth-grader Luke Herr felt like he had accomplished his goal of getting the items he wanted while staying within his budgeted allotment.

“(The store) looks amazing and organized and it made it easy to get gifts for my family,” he said.

Ziehlke said some children do not get the chance to buy gifts for their families or feel like they get a say in what to buy.

“Bringing the Santa Shoppe to Hettie Halstead provided our students with an opportunity to make their own choices and give to others. The children were so excited and couldn’t wait to go home and put the gifts under their tree,” Ziehlke said.

The profit from the Shoppe goes to the PTO, which uses it for fun events and materials for the students, teachers and school.

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