by Judith Hendricks
SUBJECT AREA: Personal Money Management
PUBLISHER: Meeting the Challenge, Inc.
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Ages 9 - Adult
COST: School Edition: $79.95 (also available as lab pack, agency edition & home edition)
NOTABLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: IBM: 486 or higher, Microsoft Windows 3.1 or higher, hard disk drive with 18 MB free space, 8 MB RAM recommended, audio card recommended
EDUCATIONAL GOALS: To enhance the understanding and skill level of money management concepts for individuals with cognitive disabilities.
DESCRIPTION: Money Coach is a multimedia software program which provides training in basic money management through two main modules: Budgeting and Checkbook. The software is designed to teach the reality of budget priorities and limitations and bill paying. By accessing the Budget Application, a student can create and organize their own personal budget. Specific features in the Budget Mode include the option to add items, delete items, create a new budget, write checks and print the budget and/or the checks. The Checkbook Module allows the student to deposit money, view their checkbook register, write and print checks. Money Coach coordinates ones personal budget with their checkbook account and automatically balances the checkbook.
Money Coach utilizes a Picture Password feature for the purpose of restricting access to personal account information. Users can determine their own access code and corresponding picture icon through a master password function. A large on-screen number pad is also included for entering amounts.
STRENGTHS: Money Coach addresses a serious need for many older students in special education. It is easy to use, and the clearly organized visual display allows the user to focus directly on the task at hand. Budget concepts are presented by way of spoken text, written text, and visual representations to enhance the userÕs performance. The automatic balancing feature allows a student with limited math skills to become proficient at personal money management. The program also has a unique feature which prevents overdrafts from being written. No writing is needed except for the signing of checks. A TouchWindow can be used for users who get confused by a standard keyboard.
WEAKNESSES: The picture password feature is case sensitive; therefore, passwords must be typed exactly as they were created which may be difficult for some students. It also might be helpful to include an on-screen calculator feature to provide more advanced students with the option of balancing their own checkbook.
SUMMARY: Money Coach is an innovative way to increase the understanding of personal money management for individuals with varying degrees of cognitive impairment. It can be used for simple Òshopping listÓ budgets or for more complex budgets with multiple payees. The graphics and check printing features enable non-readers to participate in bill paying. Money CoachÕs ease of use and affordability make it a great program to integrate into classes which focus on life skills.
Judith Hendricks is a graduate student in the Department of Special Education at the College of New Jersey.
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