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Archive for the ‘financial literacy’ Category

Financial Fitness Seminar Targets African American Families in November

Posted by Hopeton on October 22, 2011

The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) Austin Cen-Tex Chapter’s First Annual Financial Fitness Seminar is being held Saturday, November 5, 2011, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Huston-Tillotson University.  The Financial Fitness Seminar will feature a wide variety of free workshops that will provide will help families achieve better results in managing their personal finances and starting a business.

The recent economic downturn has left a number of families struggling to survive, especially in the Black community.  According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black unemployment is 16 percent, nearly twice as high as it was in December of 2008 when the “Great Recession” began.  A recent analysis of government data by the Pew Research Center revealed that median wealth of Black households in 2009 was only $5,677 while that of white households was $113,149.

Roger Davis

Roger Davis, president of NABA’s Austin Cen-Tex chapter  says that sponsoring the seminar  provides opportunities for members to fulfill their civic responsibilities.”It promotes public confidence in our members and their services,” explains Davis. Davis also thanked Charles Schwab for being the title sponsor of the Financial Fitness Seminar.

The Financial Fitness Seminar is in line with NABA’s commitment to improving  financial education in the African American and other communities by providing basic financial tools that allow individuals to establish realistic goals and work towards achieving them.  Experienced professionals will deliver the training workshops which will include:

  • Taking Charge of Your Finances
  • Budgeting, Checking, and Savings
  • Registering for Camps/College/Grants/Scholarships
  • Car Buying / Credit
  • Home Buying / Credit
  • Youth Small Business
  • Adult Small Business
  • 401K, Pensions, Investments
  • Estates, Trusts, Wills
  • Tax Update

A number of non-profit organizations will assist with the training including BiG Austin, Economic Growth Business Incubator, Foundation Communities, and Frameworks.

Juanita Stephens

NABA member Juanita Stephens who is teaching the workshop on 401K, Pensions, Investments says a financial planner’s job is not to make you rich, but to keep you from being poor.

“We are living in a time of have’s and have nots.  Which one do you want to be,”  explains Stephens, an investment advisor  for Austin’s Wealth Specialists.

Working with NABA member Regina Shelton, a student at St. Edwards University, the Austin Cen-Tex chapter developed a training track for youth instead of focusing exclusively on adults.

“For our communities to be strong, current adults and future adults must prepare themselves for a ever changing and uncertain economy to our families and businesses to thrive and survive going forward,” says Davis.

For more information and registration contact Hopeton Hay at hopeton@econpers.com.

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President Obama’s Message for National Financial Literacy Month

Posted by Hopeton on April 14, 2011

Presidential Proclamation–National Financial Literacy Month

A Proclamation

Americans’ ability to build a secure future for themselves and their families requires the navigation of an increasingly complex financial system. As we recover from the worst economic crisis in generations, it is more important than ever to be knowledgeable about the consequences of our financial decisions. During National Financial Literacy Month, we recommit to improving financial literacy and ensuring all Americans have access to trustworthy financial services and products.

President Barack Obama

The financial crisis was fueled by a lack of responsibility from Wall Street to Washington. It devastated ordinary Americans, many of whom were caught by hidden fees and penalties or saddled with loans they could not afford. Preventing a recurrence will require both better behavior and oversight on Wall Street and more informed decisionmaking on Main Street and in homes across our country. To lay the foundation for continued prosperity, we must expand the availability of financial products and services that are fair, affordable, understandable, and reliable. We must also strive to ensure all Americans have the skills to manage their fiscal resources effectively and avoid deceptive or predatory practices.

Building on the important protections in the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, the Dodd‑Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which I signed into law last year, will help restore financial stability by enforcing the strongest consumer financial protections in history. This Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency with one job — to look out for the interests of Americans as they interact with the financial system. My Administration also established the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist the American people in understanding and addressing financial matters and to identify effective approaches to increase financial capability through education and access. Additionally, the National Strategy for Financial Literacy provides a new framework for strategic coordination and an overarching financial literacy strategy.

While our Government is taking decisive action to promote financial stability, our Nation’s prosperity will ultimately depend on our willingness as individuals to empower ourselves and our families with financial knowledge. For more information on improving financial literacy, concerned individuals may visit http://www.MyMoney.gov or http://www.ConsumerFinance.gov, or call toll-free 1‑888‑MyMoney for guidance and resources.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2011 as National Financial Literacy Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

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National Financial Capability Challenge Prepares Students for Secure Financial Futures; Runs March 7-April 8

Posted by Hopeton on March 10, 2011

High school-aged students across the country began taking a voluntary online exam on March 7 as part of the 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge sponsored by the U.S. Treasury and Education departments. The Challenge is designed to enhance the financial capability of high school-aged youth across the United States by strengthening their knowledge of the basics of saving, budgeting, and investing.

“All of us—parents, educators, policymakers and students—share the responsibility to ensure that young people in our country learn a set of practical skills that will help them navigate important personal financial decisions,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “This Challenge will help students understand basic finance. It will help them understand what it means to save for retirement. And it will help them understand the risks and benefits associated with debt from things like car loans and credit cards. Empowering students with this knowledge is important for the long-term strength of our economy.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

“Our goal is for every student in the nation to get a world class, well-rounded education,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, “and that includes preparing them to make critical financial decisions. I hope the Challenge not only helps high school students get smart about money, but encourages more states and schools to make financial education a priority in classrooms as early as kindergarten.”

The voluntary online exam will be available to students today through April 8. Last month, the Department of the Treasury posted an Educator Toolkit on Challenge.Treas.gov to help teachers prepare students for the exam. From saving for college and retirement to managing expenses like cell phones, the exam tests a wide array of topics that together constitute a basic understanding of personal finance.

All high school teachers and other educators working with U.S. high-school aged students (ages 13-19) are encouraged to register for the Challenge, download the Educator Toolkit, prepare their students, and administer the online exam.

Later this spring, a group of the highest scoring students will be recognized through a national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The educators and students who place in the top 20 percent nationwide will receive official award certificates.

Some examples of the types of questions students will answer during the exam are as follows:

  1. Carolina has $5,000 saved from working at different jobs. She puts her money in a savings account that pays 4 percent per year in interest. How much money will be in her account at the end of the first year and at the end of the second year?
    1. End of first year: $5,100; end of second year: $5,400.
    2. End of first year: $5,200; end of second year: $5,400.
    3. End of first year: $5,200; end of second year: $5,408.
    4. I don’t know.

    (Answer: C)

  2. Marco went to the grocery store to buy a box of cereal. The type of cereal he liked came in three different brands and three different size boxes. To select the brand and the box with the lowest unit cost, he should look at the:
    1. largest cereal box on the shelf.
    2. most popular brand of cereal.
    3. price per ounce of cereal in each box.
    4. I don’t know.

    (Answer: C)

More than 76,000 students and 2,500 educators from more than 1,500 schools in all 50 states participated in the 2010 Challenge. To learn more about the Challenge or to register for this year, educators should visit Challenge.Treas.gov.

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Twelve-Steps to Financial Success in 2012

Posted by Hopeton on December 29, 2010

The following tips were provided by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling:

  1. Review your credit report – Much of your financial future depends on the contents of your credit report. Therefore, your first step should be to obtain your report, review it for accuracy and dispute any errors.  Since you can access your credit report free of charge, there is no reason to neglect this important piece of your financial life.  Consumers are allowed one free report from each of the three major bureaus once every twelve months.  You can get all three at once, which is a good idea if a major purchase is on the horizon, or stagger your requests to check for identity theft.  Access your report from www.annualcreditreport.com.
  2. Obtain your credit score – The three digits that comprise your credit score are a major dictator of whether or not the lender will extend credit, and at what interest rate.  It is likely that you’ll have to pay to purchase your score, but it will be money well-spent.  Be sure to understand the range within which your score falls, as each score has its own scale.  Further, take the necessary steps to improve your score.  Remember, a high score equals a low interest rate, saving you significant money over time.
  3. Reduce debt – If you’ve dug a deep financial hole, stop digging.  Piling new debt on top of old is a red flag that you are living beyond your means. Lock up the credit cards until they’re paid in full, and meanwhile, reach out for help from a legitimate credit counseling agency sooner rather than later.  Delaying only makes the problem worse.
  4. Commit to save – Americans are great spenders and lousy savers.  Without a well-funded savings account, you are on a very slippery slope, one that becomes treacherous with the next unplanned expense.  Put 10 percent of each take-home check into a savings account.  Find extra money to dedicate to saving by putting all raises, bonuses, birthday checks, and any other windfall monies into savings. This will create a cushion that should see you through most short-term emergencies.
  5. Get financially organized – Create your own personal financial center where you can instantly put your hands on your family’s financial records.  Your center doesn’t have to be a fancy home office.  It could be an accordion folder.  The point is that you know where everything is.  Place original documents such as a will or your mortgage in a safe deposit box, and keep a copy at home.
  6. Avoid incurring late fees – Pay your bills the day you receive them. This way you’ll never risk the creditor receiving your payment after the due date. Delaying could result in you being charged a late fee, a ding to your credit report and a lower credit score.  The risk of delay is simply too great.  If you travel for work or are a procrastinator, consider setting up online bill pay with payments large enough to cover at least the minimum amount due.
  7. Avoid paying overdraft fees – A receipt stuffed into your car visor isn’t simply being unorganized.  It can cost you. Many an account has been overdrawn due to neglecting to notate an ATM withdrawal or debit purchase.  Get into the habit of recording each transaction into your check register on the spot.  Also take the time to balance your checkbook each week, and reconcile your bank statement each month.
  8. Track your spending for 30 days – Have everyone in the household who spends money participate in this exercise.  Write down every cent that is spent, as it’s the small, miscellaneous expenses that often wreck the best of plans. At the end of the month, come together to review the spending.   This is the only way you can truly know where your hard-earned money is going.
  9. Create a spending plan you can live with – Once you’ve tracked your spending, you can then make conscious decisions as to how you want to allocate the money.  Continue tracking with the new plan in place.  Keep doing so until you find a plan that is right for your family.  Make it too strict, and no one will stay on board.  Make it too lenient and you won’t be accomplishing anything.
  10. Take advantage of free money – Contribute the maximum amount to your retirement plan at work, or at the very least, meet the matched amount or you’re throwing away free money.  Also inquire about the availability of Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts.  All of the above can lower your taxable income.
  11. Have an annual insurance check-up – No one wants to be over-insured.  Nor do you want to be under-insured resulting in an unpleasant surprise when making a claim.   Make an appointment with your provider and confirm that your coverage is exactly what you thought you were paying for.  Inquire about ways to lower your premiums, and ask about any discounts for loyalty, good driving and the bundling of multiple polices.
  12. Investigate refinancing your mortgage – Even though rates of late have been rising, they are still very low, potentially saving you significant money over the life of your loan.  There are multiple online calculators that can help you evaluate the options.  Do not extend the term of your loan, however, in order to get a lower monthly payment unless this is absolutely necessary to stay afloat.

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Preparation of Minority Students for Accounting Careers & Financial Literacy Focus of October 4 Economic Perspectives

Posted by Hopeton on October 1, 2010

Teeyia Mercer and Roger Davis of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) will discuss the assistance NABA provides minority high school and college students in preparing for careers in accounting and finance, and financial literacy on the October 4 edition of Economic Perspectives, 5:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. on KAZI 88.7 FM. Listen live online at kazifm.org.

Teeyia Mercer

Mercer and Davis, whom are president and immediate past president, respectively, of the Austin Cen-Tex chapter of NABA, will also provide information on the NABA Southwestern-Western Region Student Conference which will be held in Austin October 14-16, and the Accounting Career Awareness Program (ACAP), which is held for one week in July each year.

The conference, hosted by the Austin Cen-Tex chapter, will offer college students an opportunity to engage in high-caliber, technical and skills development sessions to help equip them for entering the workforce. There will be 25 technical and skills development sessions including, Characteristics of a Successful CPA, Surviving and Succeeding in Corporate America, and Financial Literacy: Budgeting and Making Smart Choices. The conference will also feature a career expo and a scholarship luncheon where 22 college scholarships will be awarded.

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New Credit Card Protection for Consumers Focus of November 22 Economic Perspectives

Posted by Hopeton on August 15, 2010

Gail Cunningham, Vice President of the  National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), will discuss  the provisions of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (CARD Act) that were implemented in August in on the November 22 edition of Economic Perspectives on KAZI 88.7 FM, 5:30 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.  Listen live online at kazifm.org.

This interview was orignally broadcast on August 16.

The new set of regulations includes the following protections:

  • The credit card company cannot assess a late fee of more than $25 unless one of the consumer’s last six payments was late, in which case the fee may go up to $35.  However, if the credit card company can demonstrate that the costs it incurred as a result of the late payments justified a higher fee, they are allowed to impose a higher penalty.
  • The issuer cannot charge a late payment fee that is more than the minimum payment.
  • When a charge exceeds the account’s credit line, an over-the-limit fee of more than the amount charged cannot be assessed.
  • The credit card company cannot charge a consumer an inactivity fee for not using their card.
  • Consumers can no longer be charged multiple penalty fees for the same transaction. For instance, both a late fee and an over-limit fee resulting from the same transaction cannot be charged.
  • The company must explain any increase in the card’s Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
  • If the APR is increased, the credit card company must re-evaluate the increase every six months, and if appropriate, reduce the rate within 45 days after completing the evaluation.

“As a result of the CARD Act, consumers have an added layer of protection related to their credit cards,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.  “In addition to being familiar with these provisions, consumers need to open their credit card statements promptly, and read all inserts that accompany the monthly mailings.  These simple steps are a critical part of creating a financially stable life.”

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Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act Focus of June 28 Economic Perspectives

Posted by Hopeton on June 27, 2010

Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a key strategist for Americans for Financial Reform, will discuss the new Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on the June 28 edition of Economic Perspectives on KAZI 88.7 FM, 5:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.  Listen live online at kazifm.org.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States.

Americans for Financial Reform is a coalition of national and state organizations that have joined together to fix the financial sector and make sure it’s working for all Americans.  Members include the AARP, AFL-CIO, NAACP, National Association of Investment Professionals,  National Urban League, and many others.

Enclosed below are highlights of the Wall Street Reform legislation provided by the press office of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LEGISLATION

Consumer Protections with Authority and Independence: Creates a new independent watchdog, housed at the Federal Reserve, with the authority to ensure American consumers get the clear, accurate information they need to shop for mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products, and protect them from hidden fees, abusive terms, and deceptive practices.

Ends Too Big to Fail Bailouts: Ends the possibility that taxpayers will be asked to write a check to bail out financial firms that threaten the economy by: creating a safe way to liquidate failed financial firms; imposing tough new capital and leverage requirements that make it undesirable to get too big; updating the Fed’s authority to allow system-wide support but no longer prop up individual firms; and establishing rigorous standards and supervision to protect the economy and American consumers, investors and businesses.

Advance Warning System: Creates a council to identify and address systemic risks posed by large, complex companies, products, and activities before they threaten the stability of the economy.

Transparency & Accountability for Exotic Instruments: Eliminates loopholes that allow risky and abusive practices to go on unnoticed and unregulated — including loopholes for over-the-counter derivatives, asset-backed securities, hedge funds, mortgage brokers and payday lenders.

Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance: Provides shareholders with a say on pay and corporate affairs with a non-binding vote on executive compensation and golden parachutes.

Protects Investors: Provides tough new rules for transparency and accountability for credit rating agencies to protect investors and businesses.

Enforces Regulations on the Books: Strengthens oversight and empowers regulators to aggressively pursue financial fraud, conflicts of interest and manipulation of the system that benefits special interests at the expense of American families and businesses.

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Financial Myths Concerning Women and Money

Posted by Hopeton on May 4, 2010

The following post was excerpted from remarks given by Elizabeth  Duke, a member of the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors, on May 1 at the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Delaware Valley Financially Hers Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Duke

Myth 1: Women focus on nonfinancial household roles while men deal with the finances.

This myth is based on the notion of a division of household responsibilities that assumes women have no role in important financial decisions. In truth, women have long had substantial responsibility for family finances. Marketing polls and survey data indicate that American women have a large role in consumption decisions undertaken by the typical household in today’s consumer markets. As household managers, women supervise the budget for and purchase of many of the highest-cost items consumed by American families. These items include food, clothing, child care, eldercare, health care, transportation, family communication networks (including cell phone and computer purchases), vacations, and, finally, financial services and products.

One recent market survey reports that women account for 80 percent of all consumer purchasing decisions, making 93 percent of food purchases and 65 percent of auto purchases, for example.6 Because women engage in more of the family shopping, they are more consistently aware of price changes and inflation. Women running households know just what it takes to make the budget stretch and how to navigate changing market prices, and they are engaged in more financial and consumer decisionmaking than at any other time in our social history.

Myth 2: Women are emotional about money.

It is true that women often face important financial decisions as a result of emotional life events, such as divorce or widowhood. But those emotions do not necessarily carry through to the financial decisions themselves. Just as women are more likely to ask for directions when they are physically lost, women are more likely than men to admit they do not know how to proceed and to seek out advice regarding the best financial path. In fact, in studies and surveys conducted with large groups of women, the emotion most often cited as accompanying a financial decision is uncertainty or worry about being unwise with money or possibly investing in something too risky. This is born out in study after study: women are more risk averse than men.7 Given that women have higher probabilities of outliving their partners, facing eldercare duties, and saving for their own retirement rather than being part of an employer-sponsored plan, it isn’t hard to understand this aversion to risk.

One upside of being risk averse is that women incur fewer transaction fees and costs because they tend to invest more conservatively than men and hold onto stocks longer.8 So, while women are demonstrably more cautious than men and are often experiencing transformational life events and investment decisions simultaneously, I would not conclude that they are more emotional than men regarding money.

Myth 3: Women are impulsive shoppers and equally impulsive with financial decisions.

Underlying this myth is the notion that anyone who purchases something on impulse does not have the self control to save in an organized, regular way. Evidence does not necessarily support the vision of women as impulsive shoppers. And impulse purchases, especially small ones made within the parameters of an overall budget, do not necessarily indicate a lack of discipline about financial matters.

For example, Internet shopping data indicate that 51 percent of online shoppers are mothers, and 92 percent of women shopping online share information about bargains with friends and family.9 This picture of women searching out information online, thoughtfully comparing bargains, and then sharing the information with their circle of friends does not support the image of impulsive shoppers.

In addition, women have demonstrated their ability to save, especially for items related to family milestones or the advancement of opportunities for their children.10 Nonetheless, women also need to recognize that saving for themselves, whether to continue their education or provide for their own retirement, is as important as saving for and investing in their children. Saving is an activity that has several important dimensions for the stability of women and their families.

Myth 4: Women don’t have the math skills necessary to make successful financial decisions.

The notion that girls are not good in math has been around for a long time. Somewhere in the K-12 educational experience the rumor that girls aren’t good at math inevitably circulates. I am not sure anyone has any real evidence that women are genetically less able to grasp math concepts. But beyond the debate about whether or not women are good at math, I have seen too many women who believe this myth and avoid financial decisions out of a fear of math. As you have hopefully discovered in your coursework, financial decisions do not necessarily involve any more math than other everyday life activities. Everything from making meals to making the leftovers stretch involves math. If anyone here knows a young girl who doesn’t have confidence in her math skills, remind her of all the math know-how acquired in watching–or better yet–assisting with household duties or shopping.

When I was in school, girls took a home economics class and boys took wood shop. I still remember the three projects required in my home economics course. I had to make a dress. I had to cook a meal. And I had to make a budget for living on my own that included finding and furnishing an apartment. That third lesson has stayed with me for life. Over the years, those home economics courses have morphed into consumer economics courses featuring significant lessons in practical mathematics.11 And more states are now requiring financial education for boys and girls as part of the mandatory curriculum.

More important than the actual math is the increasing complexity of financial services, products, and instruments. In a world where decisionmaking involves not just making a choice between two types of savings instruments or investment products, but dozens, the issue is less about being able to do the math and more about being able to decipher the terms and conditions of financial instruments. Being able to find good information and reliable advice is a key component of good outcomes. This is an area where I am pleased to say the Federal Reserve can be of some assistance. At the Federal Reserve, we have responsibility for designing many consumer disclosures, and we have made great strides recently to make those disclosures more understandable. In addition, we have written rules banning many of the confusing practices in financial services that could not be adequately explained in disclosures. We also provide helpful tools and information on our website, http://www.federalreserve.gov. I hope you remember to take advantage of our resources whenever you need information concerning credit and savings products, financial planning, and investment decisions.

To read the entire remarks given by Elizabeth Duke click here.

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Financial Literacy and Education Commission Launches Enhanced Web Site for Financial Literacy

Posted by Hopeton on April 30, 2010

The U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) announced the launch of its redesigned financial literacy education website, www.MyMoney.gov. The new site has enhanced interactive features and utility to provide more resources to Americans seeking information that can inform their personal financial decisions.  President Obama recently proclaimed April to be National Financial Literacy Month, and this enhanced online offering is just one of the many steps the Administration is taking to expand financial education and access for the future.

“As America recovers from the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression, it’s critical that we strengthen every aspect of our financial system. That means not only strong reforms and consumer protections, but also improved financial literacy and access,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin. “Financial education and access is a priority for this Administration, and we’re pleased to provide this critical resource to help Americans find free, reliable and unbiased information that can help inform their daily financial decisions and plan for the future.”

The new MyMoney.gov creates an online point of access to financial information from the 21 Federal agencies, departments and bureaus that comprise the FLEC.   Users will be able to find information about how to plan for a host of life events that have financial implications, such as birth or adoption of a child, home ownership, or retirement. They can also find information targeted to their personal or professional situation. For instance, the site includes resources for teachers, service members, women, parents, youth, employers, and more.  The site also provides money management tools including a financial savings calculator, worksheets for establishing a household budget and a college preparation checklist, among others.  The site is also available in Spanish. The effort to make the website as helpful and useful to Americans will be ongoing, with improvements expected to continue.

The web site was made possible by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, which was established under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. The Commission was tasked to develop a national financial education web site along with a hotline (1-888-My Money) and a national strategy on financial education. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury and made up of the heads of 20 additional federal agencies.  The Commission is coordinated by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Education.

For details, go to www.MyMoney.gov

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FDIC Money Smart Financial Education Link

Posted by Hopeton on April 8, 2010

To learn more about the training materials available from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to enhance your money management skills click here.

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