financial advice

Financial Literacy and the Financial Facts of Life

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Photo credit: University of Maryland Extension

It’s back to school season and across Connecticut, families are getting young people ready for school so that they can learn what they need to know to become productive, responsible and successful adults. In their late teens and twenties, young people face many important decisions – among them may be signing a lease on an apartment, applying for a credit card, taking out student loans and possibly buying cars and homes. How do we prepare students to be in the best position possible to understand both their options and responsibilities so that they can make wise decisions?

UConn Extension provides financial literacy and personal finance education workshops in partnership with schools, youth-serving agencies and organizations, businesses with young employees as well as cities and towns. Financial education programs are available for parents of children in pre-kindergarten programs, elementary school children to young adults in their early twenties.

Offered in partnership with schools, community organizations and agencies, the Welcome to the Real World, Connecticut Edition Simulation gives young people (middle school to college age/young adults) the opportunity to imagine their lives as young employed adults. They select occupations, find out their incomes and estimated taxes, and open checking and savings accounts. They then visit tables and interact with adult volunteers as they make common spending decisions. Through the learning exercise, they learn about managing money, living within their incomes, identifying spending priorities, saving and dealing with unexpected expenses.

Parents are an important key in a child’s financial education. Yet the seventh annual Financial Literacy Survey of U.S. adults, conducted in 2013 on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc., showed that 40% of adults surveyed gave themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance. UConn Extension offers a variety of financial education workshops for adults and young people. The Parents, Kids and Money Workshop provides parents with education and resources to help them teach their children about money.  Teaching the Financial Facts of Life Workshop encourages those working or volunteering in youth-serving organizations to incorporate financial literacy skills within their programming. The Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck Workshop Series focuses on helping people develop and apply financial plans to help them reach their goals.

For more information about these and other financial education workshops throughout the lifespan, contact Faye Griffiths-Smith at 203.407.3160 or faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu.

Connecticut Families and Finance

The America Saves Campaign will be launched by the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System this winter.  This is a social marketing campaign designed to encourage people to start or increase their saving.  The theme is:  “Set a goal.  Make a plan.  Save automatically.”  America Saves Week will take place February 25 through March 2, 2013; but the campaign will continue throughout the year.  Many people make a new year’s resolution to save more money. The America Saves Campaign offers many ideas on ways people can improve their financial situation.  Educational workshops, webinars, and online resources, as well as printed and other resources, are available to help savers stay motivated. Anyone interested can sign up as an individual at http://www.americasaves.org/

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The Welcome to the Real World, Connecticut Edition Simulation reached teens and young adults in several communities this past year.  This program, adapted from the University of Illinois Extension, gives young people the opportunity to imagine themselves as working adults in the occupations of their choice, making decisions about how to manage their finances.  They open checking and savings accounts, visit tables representing different expense categories staffed by volunteers, and learn to live within their incomes.  Participants also must draw a chance card which outlines an event that may add to or subtract from their income.  Some of the program participants have included: approximately 500 students at Platt and Maloney High Schools in Meriden, student interns at Pratt and Whitney and the Department of Transportation, and community agencies in New Britain, Bridgeport, and New Haven.

The Credit Jeopardy workshop was a part of Junior Achievement’s Financial Literacy Day at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).  Faye Griffiths-Smith served as lead judge for the Connecticut LifeSmarts State Competition.  LifeSmarts teaches teens to be smart and responsible consumers and citizens by focusing on five key areas of consumer knowledge that teens need to know to function effectively in today’s marketplace: Personal Finance, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Safety, Technology and the Environment.  This quiz bowl competition was also conducted at CCSU.  Ms. Griffiths-Smith presented a talk on “Financial Literacy for Social Workers” at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU).  She also serves on the executive board of Connecticut JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy and chairs the Family Economics and Resource Management Community of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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For more information about any of these programs, contact Faye Griffiths-Smith at faye.griffiths-smith@uconn.edu or 203.407.3160.  You can also follow us on Twitter @CT Families&Finances.