July 2014—Khrystyna Brzak, 16, is a student at Ukraine’s Kyiv Secondary School #221. As a child, she dreamed of entering the art academy and becoming an artist. Since taking the USAID Financial Literacy Course last year, however, her dreams have changed. She now wants to study finance.
The course teaches both students and their parents how to more effectively manage their personal finances and improve their family’s financial well-being. This year, 14,000 children in 450 schools in Ukraine have participated in the course. Ukraine’s Ministry of Education would like to see that number rise to 400,000.
While the course does not strive to recruit future accountants and financiers, it is making headway in promoting more financially astute and responsible Ukrainian citizens.
When Khrystyna began the course, she found it so practical and useful that she shared the materials with her mother, Iryna. Khrystyna recalled how she convinced her mother to get a debit card over her misgivings; until then Iryna had only used cash.
“At first, my mom was a bit skeptical that I was the one giving advice—I’m just a teenager going to school. Besides, she didn’t put a lot of trust in debit cards—she was afraid of scams,” says Khrystyna. “But, after a while, she realized how much time she saved using the card. And that I’m a pretty good adviser,” she adds with a smile.
Sometime later, Khrystyna offered to develop a family budget for her mother. When the family noticed they were spending a lot of money on food and utilities, Khrystyna and Iryna analyzed their monthly expenses and found ways to reduce them. “We decided to install water meters, use energy saving light bulbs, and buy bulk goods,” says Khrystyna.
After Khrystyna took control of the family budget, significant changes occurred: “Every month we put aside money from my mom’s salary to invest in mom’s business,” she says.
Iryna manages her own business—tailoring fur and leather clothes. “I am now also filing single taxpayer receipts and payments to the Ukraine Pension Fund, so my mom has more free time,” Khrystyna adds.
Khrystyna never imagined that a school course would influence the life of her family so much. “Thanks to our financial literacy, we have saved some money, and my mom will soon buy new equipment for her workshop,” says Khrystyna. “Now we are planning to open our own boutique of exclusive leather and fur clothing.”
The Financial Literacy Course is part of USAID’s FinRep-II financial literacy program, which runs from 2012 to 2017.
Last updated: March 16, 2015