Reading and Math 4: Football and Finances imagesWelcome to the fourth installment of Reading &  Math, our periodic series that goes beyond books to look at literacy more broadly. Our goal is to offer ways that you can use books, reading, and other resources to helping kids of all ages be successful now and over the long term.

As I mentioned in our previous post about books and money, we have created a web version of the Financial Literacy Reading List with the books Cady recommends. The list will be continually updated, and we’d love to include your suggestions, so please leave a comment!

Fall means football, and if you’ve been around any schools lately, you’ll see students of all ages wearing the jerseys of their favorite players.  What makes those players heroes to kids is how they perform on the field … for parents, what makes those players role models is what they do off the field.

The National Football League (and other pro leagues) have robust youth-oriented campaigns to help kids. NFL teams and players work within their communities to encourage kids to stay in school, get regular exercise, and more. What makes those programs work is the “personal” connection between player and fan.

Drew Brees, quarterback for New Orleans Saints is one of those players. He is using the platform created when he led the Saints to a first-ever Super Bowl victory, to encourage kids to be more aware of their finances.

Brees has partnered with Visa (an official NFL sponsor) to design a program called Financial Football. It is an online education video game that helps individuals learn financial concepts. By answering questions about personal financial management, you can move down the field and score touchdowns.

The program is not just for kids, and NFL rookies are encouraged to try their hand at Financial Football, too.  In fact, the NFL recently announced that all new incoming NFL players will receive financial planning instruction as part of their 4-day mandatory rookie training.  In a recent OpEd piece, Drew Brees explained that part of the reason he got involved is because of his own experience with credit scores.

I applied for a mortgage on my first home, and learned that financial decisions I had made back in college had hurt my credit score. Fortunately, I was able to get the loan — but at a far higher interest rate than if I had a good credit score.

It frustrates me to this day that I didn’t understand the importance of my credit score in college, when I made these poor financial decisions.

This is an great example of a role model stepping up to the plate, sharing his own examples of financial mishaps and encouraging a younger generation to be more cognizant of financial literacy concepts.  The Financial Football video game can be downloaded to your computer and is also available for iPhone and iPad.

Reading about it made me realize that if football players need refresher courses, then more needs to be done in the early years to get kids knowledge where it needs to be.  In an article last year, Sports Illustrated reported that 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt, or are facing financial stress because of joblessness and divorce just two years after leaving the game. These are guys that make a league-minimum $325,000! By high school and college – when kids increase their decision-making on purchases, budgets, rents and paying for school – it is far too late. We need to give kids the tools to prepare early, whether it is through school, at home, or from a trusted sports hero.

Cady’s Two Cents


Here are some books that may help you in your quest for teaching kids financial literacy. Although the books are meant for adults, your kids can benefit from listening to you read. You reading about money shows them that it’s important. Also in several of these books, some chapters are appropriate for your young readers to read on their own.

The Budget Kit: Common Cents Money Management Workbook
by Judy Lawrence

Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children
by Neale Godfrey

The Prosperity Factor for Kids: A comprehensive parent’s guide to developing positive saving, spending, and credit habits
by Kelley Keehn

Raising Money Smart Kids: What They Need to Know about Money and How to Tell Them
by Janet Bodnar

Cady North, the project director and author for this series, is a business and finance professional sharing time between Washington, DC, and Charlottesville, VA. She has nine years in the public policy arena helping educate members of Congress and State Legislatures on various issues. Cady [cadynorth [at] gmail [dot] com] is passionate about improving financial literacy in both students and adults.

Note:  Book titles link to, with whom the Reading Tub, Inc. has an affiliate relationship. Purchases made through the links can earn income for the Reading Tub. The link is for your convenience and does not require a purchase.

Image Credit:
*Stylized numeral four created by Horse50 and is available on
*Man with bag of money – image credit Johnny Automatic at
*Fleur de Lis logo for the New Orleans Saints linked from NFL.COM