Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs visited the Peoria Public Library today to teach preschoolers how to think about money.
Frerichs read the group of 3- and 4-year-olds a book about a child who used money from his piggy bank to buy a pet fish.
Frerichs said while the lesson might seem simple, it’s never too early to start teaching financial literacy.
“I find that when you set the bar high for young people, they may not always reach it, but they’re always reaching towards it,” he said. “Too often we set the bar low, and students towards that as well.”
He hopes continued efforts to educate young people will encourage saving for college and, eventually, retirement.
Meanwhile, Illinois lawmakers this year passed legislation to ensure children have a head start on college savings.
Every child born or adopted in Illinois after Jan. 1, 2021 will have $50 invested in a college savings account by the state.
Frerichs said the goal is to get children planning for their future sooner.
“We know that if a student knows they have a college savings account in their name, they’re three times more likely to go to college,” he said. That’s because if someone knows they have a college savings account, someone’s told them: ‘You are smart. You are college material. I believe in you.’”
Frerichs said it also encourages parents to kick in more money early on.
If the initial investment goes unclaimed, the money goes back into the treasurer’s Higher Education Savings Fund to help another student down the road.