Stop Summer Slide

Summer is here again!

The children have been waiting for the time when they are free from school, finished all their tests and can sleep late. But wait, we as parents and educators don’t want them to sleep their summer away or stay indoors tied to electronics.

We want them to have experiences, get outside and of course keep their brains active. This is especially true for middle school youth ages 11-14 who are not old enough to find a paying job and too old to stay at home with a sitter. Youth can lose precious math and reading skills over the summer.

Studies show that access to books during the summer prevents a drastic loss in reading skill – especially for kids in need.

Three of the most important things you can do to help youth:

  1. Encourage reading all summer long-Libraries are free and plentiful.
  2. Promote creativity and imagination- Kids.gov offers free activities Art & Music
  3. Keep youth moving and eating healthy.
    1. Forsyth County EFNEP helps families improve their diet and lifestyle in fun and healthy ways. Offer free classes, participants taste delicious recipes, improve cooking skills, and increase their knowledge on how to save money on groceries. Learn to Cook & Shop Wisely
    2. PBS Parents has a website full of free ideas to keep children moving. Sports & Fitness

Many youth participate in summer program through the YMCA, city Parks and Recreation and specialty art, dance or sports camps. Check out what is available for your children.

CFSFC is collaborating with several summer programs to help youth keep their reading, writing and math skills alive through fun money workshops. Over 600 youth will participate in one of our workshops this summer. Volunteers are needed to support youth learning valuable skills for the future.

Volunteer Today!

 

Invested in our Youth

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) has been committed to teaching youth about money and how it impacts their future. In 2014 through generous donations we incorporated a Financial Education Scholarship program that has aided over one hundred young adults on the road to a comfortable financial future.

In honor of our scholarship winners, CFSFC hosted a celebration on April 18, 2017 at the Enterprise Conference and Banquet Center. We are pleased to have had such an incredible turnout of over 100 children, parents, educators, college students and community partners who are dedicated to investing in our youth. Dr. Gwendolyn Johnson-Green, Director of WSFCSD Office of Alternative Education shared her feelings about the event when she said, “the guests and even our own Mayor and State Senator Paul Lowe were inspired by the real world Financial Literacy activities we participated in. The interaction with persons from all walks of life is always a treat.  We had a true representation of our community, all genders, ethnicities, and nationalities.”

There were so many highlights throughout the evening starting with our wonderful volunteers that showed up ready to teach money concepts at the various life stations we set up throughout the room. Every attendee was given an opportunity to participate in an interactive demonstration of being an “Adult for A Day” by visiting a variety of budget stations hosted by local businesses. A big thank you also goes to our many generous sponsors, like Donna Jones State Farm Insurance, Piedmont Natural Gas, Duke Power and Carolina’s Credit Union League. Continuing our scholarship program would not have been possible without their monetary donations, as well as, their friendly faces working the various stations.

Mayor Allen Joines graciously volunteered to be our scholarship certificate presenter. He arrived early to meet each candidate and learn about each one of them before the presentation. We all enjoyed showing him our budget stations, and our attendees truly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet him in person. Our scholarship winners were so grateful to have had him there to honor them as each happily posed for a ‘Kodak moment” while their parents and loved ones cheered them on!

Each year we meet an incredible number of teens and young adults who are striving to improve their lives by pursuing additional education. Their intelligence, perseverance and volunteerism truly makes us all proud to meet them. This year was no different, except that the four scholarships winners were all young women with a variety of strengths. The two youth scholarship winners, Anali Jacinto from Mount Tabor High School and Maria Valentina Roa from Davie High School boasted impressive GPA’s as well as a strong volunteer spirit. Our two young adult winners Elizabeth Vega-Orozco, current student at North Carolina A & T State University and Marianne Cruzat a student at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School are both in their final year of college.

Anali Jacinto plans to be the first in her family to attend college, pursuing a career in a math and science field at Randolph College. As a member of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) for the past three years, she has also had the opportunity to give back to the community through a variety of service projects. Through attending the required financial education classes, she learned that “going to college is a big investment that costs a lot of money and if it is not researched sufficiently and planned for, a person can easily get into a lot of debt.” Congratulations to Anali Jacinto as the recipient of the Mel Hughes Youth Scholarship Award!

Maria Valentina Roa will be the first in her immediate family to attend college in the United States.  She is excited to pursue a career in dentistry. Maria showed great interest and enthusiasm at each financial education class. The selection committee was especially impressed by her academic performance in the multiple honors and advanced placement classes she has taken over the years. Additionally, she has shown great character by her long-term volunteerism at Novant Hospital, her church, various camps, and the Ronald McDonald House.  In response to the classes, Maria says: “I have now talked to my mom about her credit score, looked at and understand the different types of financial aid loans offered to me, and I’ve made sure my major is one that will be a positive investment for my future.” Please join me in congratulating Maria Valentina Roa as one of our $1,000 Youth Scholarship Winners!

Elizabeth Vega-Orozco, winner of the Hispanic/Latino Scholarship Award in the amount of $2,000 is one year away from graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering. The selection committee was particularly impressed by her grit and perseverance in balancing very difficult coursework while raising a three-year-old son and remaining in the top 10% of her class. She is a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and has also volunteered with the Hispanic League and with the Annual Latinas Educating on Aids Awareness and Prevention Gala. She states that the education she received through the scholarship classes will “allow her to budget effectively in her final year of college to avoid further education debt and help her acquire assets as she becomes more financially stable.” CFSFC has no doubt that its investment in her education will bring wonderful returns on a variety of levels.

Marianne Cruzat, winner of the $2,000 Adult Scholarship, is diligent and committed to graduating from school debt-free. A current business student at UNC Chapel Hill, she was recently one of fifty students admitted to the Kenan-Flagler Business School and plans to spend the next year studying business abroad in Asia and Europe as a GLOBE Program Scholar. Since connecting with CFSFC last year during the scholarship competition, she has been faithful to stay in touch, volunteer when able, and serve as an advocate for financial education. Marianne, “wants to give back to the community and teach other students to be financially literate. She strongly recommends learning more about CFSFC and its incredible programs”. CFSFC is very excited to support her in the final years of her education and know that she will make great waves in the business world someday!  

Lisa Nakawatase, an educator for 15 years, currently at Forsyth Middle College and our guest speaker summed up the evening when she said, “this was one amazing event and I am beyond honored to have been involved!  Thank you all for your dedication and hard work to always make education BETTER!  I am extremely blessed to know and work alongside such passionate and incredible people!”

Fund our Scholarships

April is Financial Literacy Month

What does this mean? 

Why is it important to you and your family?

Financial Literacy is the ability to understand how money works in the world: how someone manages to earn or make it, how that person manages it, how he/she invests it (turns it into more) and how that person donates it to help others.

The keys to managing your money include:

  • Pay yourself first.

    • Before you spend one dollar on rent/mortgage, car payment, credit cards or any other bill, set aside $10 out of every $100 or ten percent of your take home pay.
    • Make savings automatic by setting up direct deposits.
  • Build an emergency savings fund.

    • Experts agree that three to six months of your monthly living expenses is the ideal. However, for most people that is not possible but almost anyone can manage to set aside $200-$500.
  • Reduce your spending leaks.

    • Many of us spend money on things that are not necessary to life. Think of stopping for coffee, sweet tea or soda and of course fast food. If you reduce some of those items, you can put money you are already spending into your emergency fund. Spending Leaks Worksheet

Talking about money with your family

It is vital that families begin talking about money while children are young to help them be ready for the challenges they will face as adults. Make it simple and age appropriate. Pointers for Parents at Every Stage

  • Make the concept of money real by showing youth how much things cost like your electric or cable bill.
  • Show them an ATM machine and explain how you have to put money into your account from working so you can have cash when you need it. Bring them inside your financial institution for a tour and to take some of the mystery out of what happens there.
  • Use going to the grocery or retail store as way to show them how much things cost, to compare prices and when older, what discounts and clearance items are all about.
  • Involve your children in budgeting by planning a family activity that will require them to give up something like a trip to McDonalds or the movies to save for an activity that will leave a memory.

Increasing your own financial knowledge

At the Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) we help individuals find out what their habits and attitudes are towards money and the things they value most in life. Then, we guide them to accomplish the goals they desire and fulfill our vision of “Helping people build assets leading to a comfortable financial future for them and their family.” We offer this assistance to adults through a Financial Wellness Checkup.

 Celebrate Financial Literacy Month by “Investing in our Youth”

on April 18, 2017.

 Register now

Investing in our Youth

Teens today face a multitude of challenges to reach adulthood including academic worries, depression, bullying, drugs and alcohol.  Despite those challenges, we are making headway in “cultivating youth for a future of financial wellness”.


Will I be able to save enough money?

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) shared knowledge on the role of additional education in improving the future prospects of over 3,400 youth in 2016. Each youth began building a framework of financial competency that will enable them to look forward to a stable life. The demand for financial education continues unabated and CFSFC is the only non-profit doing this work with youth.

We offered 163 workshops at 41 different locations in Forsyth, Stokes and Guilford counties. This would not have been possible without the help of 99 volunteers who donated 635 hours.

How will credit affect my future?

 

Volunteer Today!

 

 

 


What Teens Learned in 2016

CFSFC asked over 2,300 high school students to complete an evaluation of their learning while participating in the “Adult for A Day” budget and credit workshop. The average student was 16 years old, 49% were female and 51% were male.

Students were asked about their future plans and if they have spoken to their parents. Most students have talked about their college plans with their parents, although their expectations about how college will be paid for are unconfirmed. 

What changes will teens make in their financial habits?

  • 42% agreed to Track Expenses for One Week 
  •  58% will Change One Habit To Save Money 
  • 42%  Plan to Open A Savings Account   
  • 48% will consider more Classes to Make Good  Financial Choices

 


Financial Education Addresses the Future

Teaching children about money- how to manage it, save it and spend it wisely – is essential to making sure they are prepared for the financial world.
Teens were asked where they got their financial advice from and 86% percent reported they learned from their families. 

George Washington University economics professor Annamaria Lusardi has done pioneering research on financial literacy. Her studies have documented the gaps in financial knowledge among different demographic groups. “What the data on financial literacy shows is that financial knowledge is unequally distributed,” says Lusardi. “Those with the least knowledge are also the most vulnerable groups in economic terms.

Lusardi directs the Global Finance Literacy Excellence Center that focuses on raising the level of financial knowledge through financial-literacy education. “Finance has entered the lives of every family in a much more significant way than in the past. We now have a lot more responsibility for managing our money. Everyone needs to know the ABCs of finance,” notes Lusardi.


Join us in Investing in our Youth

We ask teens what other knowledge they need for a successful future and they told us:

  • Need help opening a savings or checking account
  • Information about different career choices
  • Help in getting a job now
  • Help applying for scholarships and grants
  • Strategies for spending less & saving more money

Here are a few lessons learned as shared by youth:

  • I have started tracking the amount of money I spend, and based on this, I change my bad habits of wasting money on unnecessary things.
  •  I have learned how to keep a proper budget so I have saved a lot more money. I also set up a checking and savings account after learning about them.
  • Well I’m not more willing to just spend money on whatever I want. I have to stop and ask myself do I really need this / want this and then I chose if I purchase the item or not. I have saved more and begun working towards saving for college.
  • The Center for Smart Financial Choices made me more aware of my options on how to pay for college and save up to pursue other goals of mine such as studying abroad. I am more aware of the importance of saving my money and look forward to it because I know that I am making an investment in my life!

On April 18, 2017, we will hold the Second Annual Day of Giving Event highlighting the value of investing in the financial education of our youth.

 Register now

 

Can we count on your financial support in helping our youth build better financial futures for themselves?

Donate Today!

Achieving Success through College

Participants in the Financial Education Scholarship Program share their success stories

Sarah Williams is not your traditional college student. When we first met, she was working full-time, a mother and wife. Sarah attended Forsyth Community College Online. She now works for a local financial institution preparing commercial loan packages. Sarah was the winner of the first Adult Financial Education Scholarship offered through the Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) in 2014.

Sarah shared the story of her resolve to graduate from college despite overcoming serious health issues.  By the time, she was entering her late 20’s, she wondered if she would still be able to go to college. Sarah said, “I put some serious thought into this and decided that not only did I want to set a good example for my daughter but I wanted my degree and to show myself that I could accomplish all my goals. If I never tried to get my degree because of cancer than I would be letting cancer win. It may not take my life but it would have taken my dreams. This was not option”. Sarah made college happen and graduated in May 2016.

Her daughter saw how hard she worked and that it wasn’t easy.  She has been making straight A’s and the family is considering the Early College of Forsyth program for her.  Her daughter is excited about this opportunity and hopes to be accepted. Sarah shared, “I know that my dedication to my studies set a good example for her and that makes me feel great!” Sarah is so thankful for the scholarship she received from CFSFC and how it helped her achieve her dream of getting a college education.

Greetings from UNC Charlotte! My name is Tyriq Evans, and I am a Sophomore Mathematics Major, planning to Minor in Secondary Education. I graduated from East Forsyth High School. I was one of the 2015 Financial Education Scholarship winners through the Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC).

I have been involved in several on-campus activities since I began life here in the fall of 2015:”Pride of Niner Nation” Marching Band; University Honors Program and Building Better Brothers (B3) a program primarily for minority males. Mentoring is our main activity. We also engage in social activities and have rap sessions to discuss relevant topics concerning the community and world around us.

My most memorable experience so far has been attending the LeaderShape® Institute with UNC Charlotte. LeaderShape® is a weeklong immersion program where individuals develop their leadership skills, while working to shape their visions for their future.

Although I haven’t traveled outside of the United States yet, I plan to go to London, England this year with the Multicultural Academic Services.  I will receive academic credit and take time to visit the famous attractions of England.

Thanks to CFSFC, I have been able to budget in several aspects of my college life. Renting my textbooks has saved me money which is allocated towards my tuition. Also, I tutor other students in Calculus. Tutoring has given me experience for my major and some extra change for my pocket. I am forever grateful for the Center for Smart Financial Choices for their support during my journey through college!

My name is Marianne Cruzat and I am a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in business administration and minoring in entrepreneurship and urban planning. I participated in the 2016 Financial Education Scholarship program through the Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC).

At Chapel Hill, I am treasurer for the Filipino American Student Association. I am working to get Innovation Ambassadors running, a program that will foster interdisciplinary innovation and allow students to innovate and start their own startups. Besides the entrepreneurship programs that I’m a part of, I am also interning at Groundwork Labs, a 3-month program that helps accelerate pre-seed startups toward their next goal.

Since I am hungry to immerse myself in other cultures and experience the rest of the world, I applied to Kenan-Flagler Business School’s prestigious GLOBE program. Fortunately, I was accepted and next year, I will be spending my entire junior year abroad! I will be in Copenhagen in the fall and Hong Kong in the spring and will be traveling to many other foreign cities in between to learn more about business and the world.

In my free time, I try to give back to my community by volunteering at places such as Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) and working with my former high school (Early College of Forsyth) to better prepare students for college. I also love to take photographs of people and landscapes around me.

So far, my most memorable experience in college was when I studied abroad this past summer. I was fortunate enough to travel to Southeast Asia and visit Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. I was able to immerse myself in the culture and learn about the globalization of Chinese food through the Chinese diaspora. As cliche as it sounds, this experience truly changed my life.

I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work with CFSFC not only because I have the wonderful opportunity to give back but it also taught me a lot about my own finances! I’m able to transfer what I’ve learned to my own life, including finding funding and saving up for my study abroad programs and college in general.

Sign up for this great opportunity today! 2017 Scholarship Program

What will you achieve in 2017?

reynolds-princessWorldwide uncertainty for the future, deaths, births, tragedies and joys abound in the news for 2016.

What does the future hold for you? Will you spend some time looking back or will you strive to look forward with hope?

We recently concluded a five-week series of classes with over 40 high school students remanded to in-school suspension. Each week we featured a different topic to open their eyes to the need for change in their lives. In order to see what their desires and hopes were for the future, we asked them to define their idea of success. A simple worksheet contained a list of 24 items they could choose from. Although we asked them to pick their top three, many teens asked if they could check more.

Having goals, making money, enjoying life, being educated and happiness were their top five goals. One young man summed up his definition of success as “when you are happy with how you are living“. Many of the teens also recognized the need to set goals. What does success mean to you?

Define your success

Every year we make resolutions and most of the time we don’t keep them. Some set a big overreaching goal with no steps along the way.  A few set goals because of what others think they should do, “you should make more money, get more schooling or change jobs”. And many make resolutions that don’t tie into their values or the success they want to achieve.

While there is no magic pill for success, there is a practical model you can follow. We use   S. M. A. R. T. goals. Research indicates that a goal written down is more likely to be obtained. We are also creatures of habit, setting a plan and sticking to it includes making it easy for yourself to accomplish.

Think of saving money as a goal and let’s make it S. M. A. R. T.smart-goals

  • I want to save $100/month over the next six months to apply for a secured credit card to rebuild my credit.
  • I will have $50 taken out of my paycheck on a bi-weekly basis and deposited into my savings account.
  • When I reach my target goal of $600 I will apply for the secured credit card at my local credit union.
  • I will charge one tank of gas each month and pay the balance in full each month.
  • I will also review my credit report for free at Annual Credit Report
  • I will use the tools at Power Pay to  develop a personalized, self-directed debt elimination plan. Powerpay

 

CFSFC offers life advice and encouragement “to empower all individuals to achieve financial wellness through all stages of life”. Sign up for an Individual Financial Wellness Check-up

What will you seek to achieve in 2017? Know you can accomplish anything if it fits with your values and goals!

“Success is not a destination, but the road that you’re on. Being successful means that you’re working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it. That’s living your dream”.Marlon Wayans

Tell us your goals for 2017.

 

 

 

 

Youth-Our Future Promise

The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.

President John F. Kennedy acknowledged that the present prospects of our youth will affect the future.  How are we doing in this area? Youth unemployment is very high for those 16-24 without advanced education.  Millions of youth are unable to find full-time opportunities that match their skills, or use their formal job training or education. All of this comes at great cost to the future with college graduates holding a diploma and an enormous financial burden of credit card and student loan debt.

One key to building a strong future for youth is increasing their financial capabilities. The economic system of the world today requires youth to be taught how to handle money at home and in school. Organizations like the Center for Smart Financial Choices, Junior Achievement, NC Jump$tart, banks and credit unions work to help youth through financial literacy initiatives.

One of our scholarship participants Miah shared what she wants for her future, “College is a time to learn, discover, find myself and create new paths. One thing I will work to not discover, find or create is unnecessary debt because I want total control in my choices, life and future.”

 Help Miah and other youth like her succeed by contributing to our #GivingTuesday campaign.

 GIVE NOW!

CFSFC helps start youth on the path to financial competency by introducing and expanding on the basic concepts of: Earn, Spend, Save/Invest, Borrow and Protect. Our workshops offer this education beginning at age ten and continue through college. We help prepare high school seniors for the cost of going to college through our Financial Education Scholarship Program.

Fifth Graders explore budgeting

Fifth Graders explore budgeting

To “cultivate our youth for a future of financial wellness” requires all of us to strive to share positive personal finance knowledge before they move to full adulthood. This is a crucial life skill that will ensure a comfortable financial future for all youth.

An Introduction to Financial Literacy, Southern Style

afad-iccEarlier this month Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) Director, Betty Ann Falkner, traveled north to bring financial education to her hometown school, Ichabod Crane Central, in Valatie, NY.  Betty Ann conceived the idea of sharing CFSFC’s popular “Adult for a Day” (AFAD) workshop at her former high school after speaking with some former classmates and her grandson who is a senior at the school.

Ichabod Crane High School students in the Economics classes participated in financial literacy workshops on October 3-4. Students experienced a snapshot of adulthood through AFAD, an interactive simulation in which they moved through 11 budget stations to spend money setting up their household after receiving their first jobs. They made decisions for things they will need and can afford, like housing, transportation and insurance to non-necessities like entertainment and vacations. They also learned about life events and their impact on even the most well-planned spending.


“I wanted to give back to my high school and give teens a kick start for the future,” Ms. Falkner said. “By providing them some life skills and guidance I hope this will help them make good financial decisions they will carry on into their adulthood.”


afad-icc5What Students Had to Say:

“I learned to be open to all the expenses I need to be aware of.”
“I learned the importance of taking care of your needs before your wants.”
“I learned how your credit score affects all basic things you purchase in life.”
“I learned how fast money goes!”
“I learned that sometimes you need to make sacrifices to save money.”

 

 

afad-icc4

Volunteers share:

“I was lucky enough to be invited to volunteer for one of the Adult for the day classes. I could tell that the students were really paying attention by the questions that they asked. I think they enjoyed the class as much as we did.”-Diane M.

“I felt this is a wonderful program for these young students. I even learned some things. The students seemed to really think about what actually happens in the real world with how to handle money. This is absolutely a great class. Very informative and needed!!!” –June E.