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.
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”.
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.
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.
Can we count on your financial support in helping our youth build better financial futures for themselves?
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
Worldwide 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?
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.
- 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 $600 I will apply for the secured credit card at my local credit union.
- I will charge one tank of gas each month and pay the balance in full each month.
- I will also review my credit report for free at Annual Credit Report
- I will use the tools at Power Pay to develop a personalized, self-directed debt elimination plan. Powerpay
CFSFC offers life advice and encouragement “to empower all individuals to achieve financial wellness through all stages of life”. Sign up for an Individual Financial Wellness Check-up
What will you seek to achieve in 2017? Know you can accomplish anything if it fits with your values and goals!
“Success is not a destination, but the road that you’re on. Being successful means that you’re working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it. That’s living your dream”. – Marlon Wayans
Tell us your goals for 2017.
The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.
President John F. Kennedy acknowledged that the present prospects of our youth will affect the future. How are we doing in this area? Youth unemployment is very high for those 16-24 without advanced education. Millions of youth are unable to find full-time opportunities that match their skills, or use their formal job training or education. All of this comes at great cost to the future with college graduates holding a diploma and an enormous financial burden of credit card and student loan debt.
One key to building a strong future for youth is increasing their financial capabilities. The economic system of the world today requires youth to be taught how to handle money at home and in school. Organizations like the Center for Smart Financial Choices, Junior Achievement, NC Jump$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.
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.
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.
Earlier 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.”
What 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.”
“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.