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

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.

2016 Scholarship Winners Announced

The Center for Smart Financial Choices S.A.P. P. Institute is pleased to announce the five winners from its 2016 Financial Education Scholarship competition. After a lengthy and formal review by our selection committee, the following applicants were chosen based on their hard work and potential to succeed in higher education.

Winners-2016

The adult scholarship award of $2000 goes to Stephanie Martin, a current freshman at UNC Chapel Hill working towards a BS in Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Medical Anthropology. The selection committee was particularly impressed with her realistic yet ambitious vision for her future in the medical field, her strong articulation of financial lessons learned and the value of the scholarship classes, and her dedication to community service and demonstration of leadership skills. They have no doubt that she will make it in the medical field and felt confident awarding her the $2000 to help her achieve her educational goals.

Greizy Beckles is the recipient of our Hispanic/Latino scholarship award of $2000. Greizy is in her second year at UNC Greensboro pursuing a degree in Social Work with hopes of being able to give back to her community. The selection committee was impressed by this young lady’s practical and meaningful essay which highlighted the steps she has already taken to building and maintaining good credit and utilizing a budget to plug spending leaks. She is living out the principle of saving more money than she spends in order to become financially stable.

The top youth scholarship award of $2000 goes to Marie Carroll, a young lady currently attending West Forsyth High School with plans of attending either UNC Chapel Hill or Northwestern University to pursue a BA in Economics. From being an accomplished cello player to studying Korean in Seoul for a summer to being the President of the Science Honors Society, she will be entering college with a wide array of life experiences and accomplishments—including an unweighted GPA of 3.98. The selection committee admired her detailed plan for saving money during college and graduating without extreme debt and were thrilled to offer her the $2000 award to continue her educational dreams.

One of our $1000 youth scholarship awards goes to Jake Gigliotti, a current student at Early College of Forsyth County with plans to attend either UNC Chapel Hill or Princeton to study Biology. He will be graduating high school with an unweighted GPA of 4.0 and the selection committee had no misgivings about his ability to complete a difficult course of study at either of these prestigious universities. They were impressed with his drive, leadership and volunteer experience including being an Eagle Scout and the Treasurer for his school’s National Honor Society.

The second winner of our $1000 youth scholarship award goes to Jake Browne, a young man at Reagan High School who plans to pursue a degree in Computer Science at UNC Chapel Hill. The selection committee was impressed with his creative and strategic plan for completing college without a burdensome debt load; as the Vice President of the Young Democrats of Forsyth County, he hopes to use his experience in political advocacy, leadership and money management skills to help navigate through the next four years of college.

We are very proud of the winners, as well as all 33 applicants who completed the process, and hope that everyone will continue to make smart financial choices as they pursue their education goals. Congratulations 2016 Scholarship winners!

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.