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!

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

How to Get to Where You Want to Go-through Financial Planning

neon_light-financial planning

 

How to Get to Where You Want to Go-through Financial Planning

Where are you in your financial life cycle? Learn the steps leading to the creation of your very own financial plan. This interactive session will assist you to make decisions based on your personal values and goals.  Special emphasis will be given to applying these steps to your small business.