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!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

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.

BB2

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

Vol4

 

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/