The Center for Smart Financial Choices S.A.P.P. Institute launches a new curriculum

SAPP-CFSFC_webThe Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) has partnered with the Winston Salem Forsyth County School System (WSFCS) for the past four years to provide free financial education workshops in elementary and high schools throughout the county. Andrew Kraft, CFSFC Board Chairman and Program Manager for K-12 Social Studies, where financial literacy is taught, indicated a need for a financial curriculum that social studies teachers could use for middle school students ages 11-13.

Mr. Kraft and his team, Courtney Tuck, Middle School Social Studies Instructional Coach and Melissa McGready, High School Social Studies Instructional Coach recruited six experienced middle school teachers to write, teach and report on the effectiveness of the curriculum in the classroom.

The teachers used an Inquiry Design Model which incorporates a compelling question as the basis of the curriculum. The questions were designed to stimulate discussion and serve as the theme of the unit. The questions are as follows:

  • Sixth Grade- What Is the Impact of Economic Decisions On the Quality Of Life?
  • Seventh Grade- What Controls Personal Choices?
  • Eighth Grade- Are You Ready For Tomorrow?

The finale of the curriculum is a civic action component that requires students to connect their learning to the real world. Danielle Boyst of Wiley Middle School shared her thoughts on the impact of the curriculum, “As a teacher in a Title I school, I have daily contact with students and parents in the lower economic spectrum. A lot of my students are already aware of the lack of finances or the struggle their parents and guardians incur.  The personal finance unit was written as a way to provide resources not only for the students but for the family as a whole. This will be beneficial for students to begin dialogue in the home about financial choices with their parents. It will also help the family make better financial decisions and develop successful habits in the future.”

CFSFC’s S.A.P.P. Institute is planning to extend this curriculum to all Forsyth County Middle Schools in the 2016-2017 school year. Kimberly Brendle of Paisley Middle School noted, “The curriculum will be a guide to consistently teach the required economic standards across our county. These lessons will provide a structure for teachers and will facilitate the learning of the standards for all our students.”

We would like to thank Kimberly Brendle of Paisley Middle School and Jennifer Church of Jefferson Middle School; Brittany Barnes-Polk of Walkertown Middle School and Brad Freeman from Northwest Middle School; and Nicholas Arzillo of Hanes Middle School and Danielle Boyst of Wiley Middle for their brilliant work in incorporating financial competencies into the social studies curriculum.

Teacher recruits design curriculum

Teacher recruits design curriculum

Contact Betty Ann Falkner, CFSFC Director by phone 336.734.6919 or email bfalkner@cfsfc.org for information on bringing this curriculum to your school district.

2016 Scholarship Opportunity Available for Adults & High School Seniors

 

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The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) is excited to announce its third year of providing scholarship opportunities for high school seniors and adult college students. Through the Mary Carol Sapp & Johnston Financial Education Scholarship Program, a total of $8,000 is available to eligible students for the 2016 – 2017 school year.

The distinguishing piece of this scholarship program is the requirement of all applicants to attend financial education classes offered by the Center. “The aim is not just to provide funds to pay for college, but to also cultivate financial competencies that will stick with each applicant long after they graduate from college,” says Leslie Moser, Youth Program Educator for the Center.

The initial deadline to apply for the scholarship opportunity and to submit the $15 membership fee to the Center is February 25th, 2016. The secondary deadline to complete classes and submit supplemental information (transcripts, acceptance letter, summary of achievements, essay) is April 18th, 2016.

Last years winners

Last years winners

The scholarships offered include:

  • One $2,000 award for any youth planning on attending college
  • Two $1,000 awards for any youth planning on attending college.
  • One $2,000 award for any Hispanic/Latino youth planning on or attending college for a first bachelor’s degree
  • One $2,000 award for any adult pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate’s degree, or a first bachelor’s degree

Applicants will be evaluated by the Center’s selection committee based on demonstrated academic ability (minimum unweighted GPA of 3.0), personal achievements, community involvement, and demonstrated writing ability in a 500-word essay written in response to the required financial education classes.

“As an organization that strives to teach youth how to make smart financial decisions and avoid debt, it only makes sense that we should offer the tools and resources to help students achieve these goals. The Center is so excited to be able to offer two additional scholarships this year and we hope to get a surplus of applicants who wish to take advantage of this opportunity,” says Leslie Moser.

If you are a college-bound high school senior or an adult currently pursuing further education, download the initial application form- Application for Scholarship Opportunity-2016 to make the most of this great opportunity!button-application

SAVE YOUR REFUND

Save your refundAmericans to win big again in 2016 by putting part of tax refunds directly into Savings

Taxpayers across America once again will have a chance to win cash prizes just by saving a portion of their tax refund through the Save Your Refund campaign, thanks to a new partnership between the Doorways To Dreams Fund (D2D) and America Saves, an initiative of the Consumer Federation of America.

The Save Your Refund campaign creates fun and exciting incentives for Americans to save at tax time, when households making less than $50,000 claim $100 billion in federal tax refunds. For many individuals and families, that tax refund is the largest check that they will receive all year. A chance to win a $25,000 grand prize or one of 100 smaller weekly prizes has proven to be enough to turn saving skeptics into savings winners.

The new partnership ensures the program will be able to have an even greater reach in 2016. America Saves will promote the program to an extensive network of volunteer income tax assistance (vita) sites, where taxpayers can learn about the savings prizes and get free help filing returns. Assistance and information will also be available through other VITA, volunteer, and community offices.

Save Your Refund changes lives for the better, by letting people see for themselves that saving, even in small amounts, is possible and that they can take a positive step for their future,” said Tim Flacked, D2D Executive Director. “We’re excited to work closely with America Saves to bring fun and prizes to tax time in 2016.”

Some 6,000 people saved more than $5 million through Save Your Refund so far.

More than half of all Americans have no savings to help them cope with even small emergencies. Yet more than 100 million taxpayers get refunds from the IRS each year.

“Our partners across the country hear every day from people who know they need to save and think they have no way to even get started,” said Nancy Register, America Saves Director. “We’re pleased to work with D2D this coming tax season to show people it’s easy to start saving. The best time for many to start saving is at tax refund time, and a great way for people to take that financial action is with the potential for a prize.”

The winner of the 2015 grand prize was living with her family of five in a single motel room when volunteer tax preparers in Lakeland, FL, told her about Save Your Refund. Mary Bunch said the possible prize motivated her, and the volunteers and the Save Your Refund program enabled her, to start a new habit of savings.

“It’s not about the amount of money that you save or that you have in the bank,” Bunch said. “It’s just knowing that it’s there. There used to be such a pressure on my chestSaving gives me back my quality of life.”

For information on how to save and enter Save Your Refund contests or to support Save Your Refund efforts across the United States, visit www.saveyourrefund.com. More about America Saves and its mission to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth is available at www.americasaves.org.

Scholarship Winners Announced

2015 Scholarship Winner Tyriq Evans

2015 Scholarship Winner Tyriq Evans

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) announced its 2015 scholarship winners. A total of $6,000 in three categories was awarded to the following recipients:

Tyriq Evans, an East Forsyth High School senior, won a $2,000 youth scholarship for a student planning on or attending college in 2015-2016. Evans will attend UNC Charlotte.

Sherry Richmond, a Forsyth County resident, was awarded the $2,000 scholarship for any adult looking to further their education by attending college in 2015-2016. Richmond will complete her education at Salem College.

Saul Armengol, a student at Early College of Forsyth County, received the $2,000 scholarship for any Hispanic/Latino youth planning on or attending college in 2015-2016. He will attend Forsyth Tech.

“Even though I may have financial plans for college, it is useless without the skills to carry them out,” said scholarship winner Tyriq Evans in his essay. “During my second class with CFSFC, I learned that money habit-attitudes or “Habitudes® affect the financial decisions people make. However, if I can put my habitude to work (my dominant habitude being planning), I can enjoy myself and still be financially successful.”

“Many young people work very hard to get into college,” said Betty Ann Falkner, CFSFC director “With what they have learned through the classes, the chances are greater that they will graduate with a minimum amount of student debt leading to a smart financial start to their adult lives.”

Sherry Richmond, a full-time college student working two jobs said, “from my experience at Salem, I have learned to constantly push myself to reach my goals and being awarded this scholarship will continue to help me do so.”

The award required a financial education component in which potential winners attended financial education classes to assist them with planning for college and beyond.

The Center recently announced a scholarship fundraising challenge to raise $6,000 in order to increase the 2016 scholarship offerings. The next cycle of the Scholarship program opens in February 2016.
Donations are accepted at www.cfsfc.org/donate.

Scholarship Applicants Raise Their Financial IQ

One of the requirements in competing for the 2015 Johnston Financial Education scholarship was for applicants to attend two financial education classes.  This year, thirty-three individuals applied for one of three scholarships. Twenty-nine individuals, six (6) adults; nine (9) Hispanic/Latinos; and fifteen (15) youth completed all requirements.

Many of the applicants faced obstacles in attempting to go to college or paying to finish their schooling. Several faced legal barriers to financial aid and almost all of the applicants work part-time or at multiple jobs to finance their education.  Yet this is a goal for all of them as they echo what Paula said ‘Going to college is just the door step to where I see myself in the future. College will prepare me with knowledge, experiences, and skills … I believe I know what comes first in my life, and college is definitely one of them’.

The first class, ‘Going to College-Counting the Cost’ revealed the true cost of college and tips that all individuals can use to reduce their reliance on student loans. This class was featured on Time Warner Cable Channel 14 Money Matters in April. http://www.twcnews.com/stories/2015/04/28/m/money-matters-paying-for-college.html

Two other classes, ‘Finding Money for Free’ and ‘Money Habitudes®’ gave applicants ideas on how to keep better track of their money and helped them developed a better understanding of their habits and attitudes around money.  All the participants gained a solid financial foundation to guide them as they move forward in life.

College1a

Jessica said, ‘to help avoid unnecessary debt … I am going to make a plan to see what I spend my money on. After that I will begin writing down if I NEED the item or if I WANT it. Being that I am a spontaneous shopper, (thank you money habitudes!) I think coming up with this plan will help me cut down on all the things I don’t need to buy right at the moment.’

Greicy shared the confidence she and the other students will need in facing their future when she said, ‘I am confident that I can exhibit the restraint and the discipline required to commit to my budget and avoid falling into unnecessary debt in college. These positive habits will not only alleviate financial matters, but will also help me build the confidence and character necessary to become a fiscally responsible and independent adult.’College4

Miah summed up their learning experience when she stated, ‘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…I am thankful for learning that from classes at the Center for Smart Financial Choices.’

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU & MAY YOUR FUTURE BE EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE IT CAN BE!

2015 Johnston Financial Education Scholarship

In keeping with its mission to help individuals achieve financial wellness through all stages of life, The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) announced its second scholarship opportunities for currentor rising youth and adult college students that include a financial education component. A total of $6,000 is available through the Johnston Financial Education Scholarship program for the 2015-2016 school years.

The scholarships offered include:

  • $2,000 for any youth (17-21) planning on or attending college
  • $2,000 scholarship for any adult (22-75) pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate’s degree, or a first bachelor’s degree
  • $2,000 scholarship for any Hispanic/Latino youth (17-21) planning on attending college

To be eligible for consideration of any of these scholarship opportunities, applicants are required to become a member of the Center for Smart Financial Choices and be enrolled or accepted as a full-time student in an accredited college or university. Applicants are also required to attend two financial education classes before April 17, 2015. Scholarshipwinners1

“Everyone who applies and goes through the program comes out with the knowledge of how to make good financial choices as they enter college or complete their degrees,” said Betty Ann Falkner, director, Center for Smart Financial Choices. “We want them to start out on the right foot, get out and stay out of debt before and after college and always know that the Center is here as a resource all along the way.”

Scholarship applicants will be evaluated by the Center’s selection committee based on demonstrated academic ability with a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.0 and demonstrated writing ability. Youth applicants must submit a 500 word essay titled ‘How I plan to go to college without creating unnecessary debt’ and adults’ essay focuses on ‘What going to college will mean for my future.’

Deadline for the scholarship application, along with membership fee of $15 to the Center, is Friday, March 6, 2015. Supplemental information (essay, transcripts, acceptance letter) is due by April 17, 2015.

 

 

 

2014 Highlights

The goal of the Center for Smart Financial Choices for 2014 was to raise awareness of their programs and services to Forsyth County residents. We would like to share the progress that was made this year and the impact it had on participants.

Youth Programs

The Center delivered thirty-four presentations to over 1,121 youth in local elementary, high school and summer programs in 2014. The most popular program ‘Adult for A  Day (#AFAD)’ helps high school students explore the importance of making smart financial choices in managing a budget while learning how credit scores affect their expenses. Over one hundred Vienna Dozier Elementary fifth grade students participated in the elementary version of AFAD to learn how a budget works.

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Comments from teen students on #AFAD

“The Center for Smart Financial Choices program taught me a lot about the money saving decisions that our parents and other adults have to make every day. It also showed me that a lot of the decisions that have to be made are not easy. I learned that what type of insurance, the cost of utilities, clothes, and your home is very important. I also learned about all the responsibilities that adults have to have to be successful. This program will help me become a better adult and be more aware of my responsibilities” Cameron

Reagan AFAD

Understanding your paycheck

 “I participated in the “Adult for a day” program at my school. It was very beneficial in teaching me the many expenses that come with being an adult. It made me start to think about what I should do to prepare myself, like watching what I spend and how I save. This program was very encouraging and I would recommend it to anyone” –Avery

Comments from elementary students on #AFAD

Vienna14

Focus on Saving

 

“Thank you for helping and teaching me all about how to grow up and become a responsible adult with money.  Also, I loved the presentation and stations I went to. In my family I have some relatives who aren’t really good with money, so I’ll go home and teach them all about what you taught me” – Andrew (5th Grader)

“Thank you for coming to Vienna to teach us how to manage our money. I now know why my parents won’t buy me some stuff I want. I appreciate all that my parents do now I also now realize how hard it is to handle money” –Hallie (5th Grader)

 

Adult Presentations

The Center worked with many non-profits groups this year, including Goodwill, Circles of Winston Salem, Relatives as Professional Parents (RAPP), Sunnyside Ministries, Project 360 and the Enterprise Center. Forty-four workshops were held with over 520 individuals reached.

                                                                                                                                                                           ‘Only Way to Go’

OWG

Certificate of Financial Competency

 

The Center completed a series of workshops titled ‘Only Way to Go’ at the Prosperity Center North, which served over eighty individuals. The program successfully combined work readiness, financial education, empowerment and motivation skills for the participants.

“This course showed me there were lots of places I needed to improve. I thought I had it together until I found out how many spending leaks I had. I found I was wasting money eating out even though I love to cook. At the time I took the ‘Only Way to Go’ program, I was homeless, a situation I had never been in before.  I found a job during the time I was taking the course, as a Certified Nursing Assistant and I am still employed seven months later. I also recently moved into my own new apartment.

I would recommend this course to others because they don’t realize how much it would help them if they would only pay attention and participate.” –Nancy

Volunteers

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The Center depends on its volunteers to assist in delivering its programs. Volunteers logged over 1,500 hours supporting the Center in 2014. Currently, the Center has over forty volunteers and more are needed to work with school children and teens during the day.

 

 

 

Ways to Support the Center for Smart Financial Choices

Join the Center as a member– your membership helps support our programs.  And you receive one free financial consultation when you join! Annual membership fee of: $15 for senior citizens, $20 for individuals or $30 for the entire family. http://www.cfsfc.org/membership/

Donate- The Center provides its programs free to all youth in their schools, at churches and in the community.iVol1

 Your donation of $25=provides snacks for 30 teens; $50=funds incentives; $100= provides educational materials for a class

Or donate $10-$1,000 to fund the Johnston Financial Education 2015 Scholarship. http://www.cfsfc.org/donate/

 Volunteer- When we help others by volunteering our time and we see their appreciative response we feel better about ourselves.  http://www.cfsfc.org/volunteer/ 

Survive Financial Stress

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We all at one time or another have felt our financial life getting out of control. It may be as simple as only being able to pay the minimum on your credit card because the rent was due or the kids needed new school clothes and you didn’t have the cash.

No matter how big or small the crisis, our finances can cause us stress. Having a plan is the first step toward improving our economic circumstances and in turn alleviating the stress associated with it. While it is unrealistic to think we can eliminate stress altogether, there are ways to reduce the negative effects it can have on our health.

1. Recognize Your Situation– be honest with yourself, do you dread opening the mail or looking at the bank alerts telling you that your balance has fallen below zero? Are you constantly taking money from one bill to pay another, using credit cards for basics such as food and avoiding thinking about finances? Knowing exactly what you face can help reduce your stress level. Only when you know the situation, can you begin moving forward.
2.Make a Plan– take back control by gathering all your bills together and taking a serious look at the funds you have coming into the household. Use whatever method works best for you, paper and pen, excel spreadsheet or online budgeting program to create your spending plan. Remember you have to earn more than you spend so make a budget that matches your income. Concentrate on your priorities and begin building an emergency fund. Making a plan will give you peace of mind.
3. Communicate – Communicate with your creditors even if your spending plan has no room to make repayments. Why? Most creditors are willing to work with you if you talk to them. They may defer payments, reduce payments or let you skip a payment. These communications can help you reduce your stress, since you know you have alternatives.
4. Anchor yourself– Anxiety makes us envision the worst possible future. No one can make good financial decisions when they are under stress. This is a time to reach out for support systems, like family, friends or your faith based community. From lending a listening ear, to lending you money with a low interest rate, your support system can be a great help in times of financial difficulty. The help of your support system can reduce your stress and improve your chances of getting through the difficulties.
5. Be prepared now– Make it a point to get ready for problems before they arise. Create an emergency fund. Know which items you will cut from your budget if you need to reduce your expenses. Look for ways to increase your income. Learn to live with less. This is an opportunity to seek a new balance in your life and to reassess your goals in life.

Focus on things that add value to life. You have things in your life, that are more important than money, like being alive, having a measure of health, good friends and family. Use the free gift of laughter to ease your stress. Dealing with difficult times can help us remember what really counts in life.

Betty Ann Falkner, Education Program Manager of the Center presents financial education initiatives, including a curriculum of courses and resources to increase personal finance knowledge in order ‘to empower all individuals to achieve financial wellness through all stages of life’.

Smart Summer Vacation Tips

Summer is a time for fun and family. It’s also a time when we spend a lot of money without getting too much out of it. How do we make the most of the money we have to spend on summer fun while creating lasting memories?

We do this by planning ahead. You may ask ‘why plan ahead, I have so much to do already with kids out of school, higher child care costs and the regular demands of life?’  There are several reasons to plan ahead:

  1. You will know how much money you need to save for a vacation;
  2. How and where you will spend your vacation money;how-to-budget-a-family-vacation
  3. What local and/or free resources are available for vacation;
  4. And take some of the hectic out of vacation while making memories.

Ways to Save for Vacation

For most of us, we think of vacation when it’s cold and dreary outside. This is a time to come together with your family, friends or significant others to have a conversation about where you would like to go on vacation. Talking together and coming up with ideas of where you should go and what you want to do will be an opportune time to discuss the financial end of vacation.

If the kids want to go to Disney and your pocketbook will only allow a beach trip, this is time to let them know what is possible and as a family include some of their must do’s like swimming, miniature golf, or a tour of an aquarium. The same goes for friends and significant others in planning for your trip communicate what a vacation means to each of you and agree on a destination while including a mix of points of interest for each of you.

With your destination in mind, consider the costs that go into a vacation trip such as:

  • Travel expense ( airline or auto)
  • Food for the trip
  • Lodging (hotel, motel, vacation rental, camping)
  • Meals (are any included with your lodging?)
  • Admission Fees
  • Spending Money
  • Emergency Fund

Research your destination; there are many on-line sites that will help you with figuring out the costs of vacation. Check out your desired locations website and look at the ‘Things to Do’ tab which will offer you a wealth of information along with free things you can do.

Then begin saving, months in advance. Many people save for vacations by placing money in a savings or money market account. If you belong to a credit union, you can take advantage of a vacation club account. Like a holiday club, it’s an account set aside for a specific purpose — in this case, a trip. Credit unions offer these accounts with a low initial deposit of $5-10 which can be directly taken out of your paycheck. The money grows throughout the year and is available when you are ready to go on vacation.  And if you don’t spend all your money on the vacation you have saved for, put in back into savings for next year. CU Lookup.com  offers a free credit union locator at http://www.culookup.com/

Here is a simple chart showing how much you need to save monthly so you will have what you need before the trip.

Amount you want to save

Monthly savings over 6 months

Monthly savings over 12 months

Monthly savings over 18 months

$1500

$250

$125

$83

$2500

$414

$205

$136

$5000

$828

$411

$272

$7500

$1242

$616

$408

 

With all your planning done and money saved, now all you have to do is enjoy your time and make plenty of memories!

Betty Ann Falkner, Education Program Manager of the Center presents financial education initiatives, including a curriculum of courses and resources to increase personal finance knowledge in order ‘to empower all individuals to achieve financial wellness through all stages of life’.
 

Scholarship Winners Announced

2014 Scholarship Winners

2014 Scholarship Winners

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) announced its first scholarship winners for current or rising youth and adult college students. A total of $5,500 in three categories was awarded to the following recipients:

  •  Josephine Hill, a Reynolds High School senior, won a $1,500 youth (17-21) scholarship for a student planning on or attending a two-year community college in 2014-2015. Hill will attend UNC Wilmington.
  •  Sarah Williams, a Forsyth County resident, was awarded the $1,500 scholarship for any adult (22-75) looking to further their education by attending college in 2014-2015. Williams plans to attend Forsyth Technical Community College.
  •  Bibiana Arroyo, student at Early College of Davie County, received the $2,500 scholarship for any Hispanic/Latino youth (17-21) planning on or attending college in 2014-2015. She will attend Salem College.

The award required a financial education component in which potential winners attended financial education classes to assist them with planning for college and beyond. Students were also required to write an essay on ‘How I plan to go to college without creating unnecessary debt’ or ‘What going to college will mean for my future.’

“In college, I plan to watch my spending habits and try to use a credit card as little as possible,” said scholarship winner Hill in her essay. “I plan on having a job on or off campus or both and with that money I’ll contribute to educational costs and save as much as I can to pay off any debt as I go. When I graduate in four years, I want to be completely debt-free.”

“It gives us great pleasure to help individuals establish healthy financial habits wherever they are in life, young, old or just starting out with their first job,” said Betty Ann Falkner, CFSFC education program manager. “With this information, the chances are greater that these new financial habits become second nature throughout life.”

Arroyo credits her life-guarding job during high school for teaching her responsibility and how to budget her own money. She looks forward to more financial education like the offerings at the Center.

“I will continue to pursue my dreams of informing myself as much as I can,” she said. “I will find the resources I need to learn ways to save, attend college and budget my time. Having the Center for Smart Financial Choices and other organizations by my side will help me achieve what I once thought was impossible.”

For Sarah Williams, a cancer diagnosis at a young age thwarted her college chances right out of high school. Wanting to set a good example for her daughter now, she is pursuing her degree, debt free, while working full time. “If I never tried to get my degree because of cancer, then I would be letting cancer win,” she said. “It may not take my life but it would have taken my dreams. This was not an option. It may take some very serious planning and sticking to a strict budget, but it is still possible.”