George Lucas Educational Foundation
Technology Integration

A Mobile App Lesson on Financial Capability

October 17, 2013
Image credit: iStockphoto

The goal of this lesson is teaching students how to use their mobile phones for financial management and financial decision-making. The best moment to provide dedicated financial literacy coursework is in the latter grades of high school. A "just in time" financial education is student- and behavior-centered, and incorporates tools that our students use every day -- such as their mobile phones.

Integrating student phones into financial literacy should not be isolated to one lesson. We should try to do it as much as we can. For example, we should take advantage of opportunities like the America Saves text message service and encourage our students to bookmark on their smartphones or follow on Twitter the organizations that can help them make wise and informed financial choices now and in the future.

I originally wrote and posted the following lesson on the Council for Economic Education's EconEdLink. EconEdLink provides a premier source of classroom-tested, Internet-based, economic and personal finance lesson materials for K-12 teachers and their students. With over 787 lessons to choose from, teachers can use as many of the free lessons as they like, and as often as they like.

"Mobile Phones Matter" Lesson (Student Version Below)



Most of you are comfortable using mobile phones, and many of you use smartphones such as iPhones or Androids, which are becoming part of our culture. It is becoming more cost effective to use the broad range of smartphone services to cut down on the cost of things like watches, games and other accessory items. According to Maximilian Schmeiser of the Federal Reserve, the Center for Financial Services Innovation, the U.S. Treasury, and other national leaders, mobile phones matter when it comes to financial management and financial decision-making.


In this lesson, you will take notes on the advantages of using mobile phones for financial management and financial decision-making. You will read an article from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on mobile applications and then research various techniques to establish a password that will safeguard information on a mobile phone. Next, you will explore mobile applications that aid in financial management and financial decision-making, and complete an activity where you match mobile applications that aid in financial management and financial decision-making with key financial concepts. For your assessment, you will create a multimedia presentation or write a persuasive essay illustrating mobile applications that aid in financial management and financial decision-making with key financial concepts.


1. As a class, watch the presentation "Mobile Phones Matter."

2. As a class, watch the USAA Mobile Banking Application Commercial as an example of what one mobile application can do.

3. Read "Understanding Mobile Apps" by the FTC. When you are finished, be prepared to share your impressions of the article with the class.

4. Read about various techniques of establishing a password to safeguard information, and then develop your own password. You can choose from two optional reading materials:

5. Explore mobile applications that aid in financial management and financial decision-making as presented in the following articles:

6. Once you have reviewed the preceding articles, complete your own "data retrieval charts" by filling in the blanks with apps that match the financial concept. As an option, you can develop your own checklist or wish list of what you are looking for in a mobile application to help you make better financial decisions.


Mobile phones have become a part of our culture, particularly for high school students. With a little research and education, they can be used safely and effectively as financial management and financial decision-making tools. At a minimum, consumers should consider using the mobile banking options and text alert reminders offered at banks and credit unions. Consumers should always comparison shop for these services, as they can often be found for free.

Assessment Activity

Create a multimedia presentation illustrating mobile applications that aid in financial management and financial decision-making with key financial concepts.

Option A: Students can use PowerPoint or Prezi. Presentation ideas:

  • Create a Top Ten List.
  • Categorize mobile apps and rank them.
    • Do I need an app that will give me my net worth?
    • Will this app help me manage my bills?
    • Why should I use an app to help me budget?
These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself. You should do an analysis of your financial goals and needs, and use that information to create a matrix for cross-examining each individual app against your needs. This will assist you in finding the app that best suits your situation.
  • Provide safety recommendations (per the FTC article and password suggestions).
  • Option B: Students can create a video or commercial. For presentation ideas, see Option A.

    Option C: Write a four-paragraph persuasive essay. Persuade the reader to use mobile apps for financial management and financial decision-making. Support your position with research, safety recommendations, and examples of best practices.

    Extension Activity

    Follow along with the FinCapDev Competition to see what the next evolution of financial management apps will look like.

    Use your phone to download the mobile application(s) you think would positively impact your own financial behavior.

    "Mobile Phones Matter" Lesson (Educator Version)


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    • Technology Integration
    • Financial Literacy
    • Teaching Strategies
    • Math
    • 9-12 High School

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