Personal finance addresses the ways in which individuals or families budget, save and spend their money. Although this is a topic that everyone should be educated on, there are only 17 states in America that require their high school students to take a course in personal finance. This means there’s a large population of adults who lack some measure of financial understanding.
In an effort to educate the public, one of Visa’s financial literacy programs, Practical Money Skills for Life, focuses their efforts on “creating quality, engaging and innovative materials that can bring interest and fun into financial education.”
“It’s important to start financial literacy at an early age and to continue often if we actually want to end up with adults who have good money management skills,” says Hugh Norton, head of US Financial Education at Visa.
The idea of a personal finance comic book originated in 2012 when Visa partnered with Marvel Custom Solutions for the very first time. “It really just seemed like a natural winning combination to put together our financial literacy expertise and their iconic characters,” says Norton.
Marvel Custom Solutions, Marvel’s in-house creative agency, is often approached to take on educational projects. Editor and project manager at Custom Solutions, Darren Sanchez, says educational comic books are a great way to teach kids important lessons while still keeping them entertained.
With about half a million copies distributed in eight different languages in 42 countries, the first comic, “Avengers: Saving the Day,” was nothing short of a success.
Now, after four years, these big name companies worked together to create their latest comic, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket’s Powerful Plan.” Superhero characters from both “Avengers” and “Guardians” comic series appeared in blockbuster movies, the most recent being “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” scheduled for release in 2017.
The months it took to create “Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket’s powerful plan” included endless approvals and a team of talented writers and artists. But the challenge with these types of educational comics, says Sanchez, is making sure the comic incorporates Visa’s main teaching points, includes all of the characters and making sure kids engage with its message.
For this issue, Visa wanted to teach their readers about saving up for an emergency and how to save up for big-ticket items that they need but can’t normally buy.
“Rocket and Groot are the stars of the comic. It’s called ‘Rocket’s Powerful Plan’ and he’s the one that’s saving money,” says Sanchez. “He’s the mastermind behind all of it. And Groot is the irresponsible side to show what not to do.”
The colorful 20-page issue is filled with action-packed fight scenes and finds a way to seamlessly integrate the story with financial terms like “investment,” “exchange rate,” “live within your means,” “savings account” and “emergency fund.”
“We’ve rationed out money for living expenses,” says Rocket in the comic, “squirreled away cash for emergencies and now after all that time we finally have enough for our new toy! The newest in stark tech.”
In an effort to be more aggressive in spreading financial literacy, this time around, Visa also partnered with the Public Library Association.
Norton tells Yahoo Finance that they didn’t want to just hand the comic book over to people in hopes they would use it. “We wanted to to be able to put real learning materials in people’s hands and partnering with the public library association allows us to put that comic into communities across America in a much more accessible way than if it was only available through our site.”
The initial launch of “Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket’s Powerful Plan,” was translated into eight languages. But the May release was so successful that it is now being translated into an additional eight languages, including Turkish and Fijian.
“It’s a myth that an ill-informed consumer is somehow better for business,” says Norton. “In the long term an informed and educated consumer who knows how to deal with their own finances is better for everyone. It’s the right thing to do and we need to start financial education early.”