State-Wide Financial Literacy Campaign Kicks Off at CHS

Colchester High School’s “Ask the Experts” event on September 15 kicked off an important initiative aimed at providing financial literacy education to students here and across Vermont.

The Money Smart Child initiative unites government, nonprofit, and business organizations in an effort to help parents all around the state help their children understand personal finance. Free regional workshops will be scheduled in Colchester, Barre, Ludlow, Swanton, St. Johnsbury, and Salisbury and will focus upon some key areas, and a booklet entitled “How to Raise a Money-Smart Child,” written by the national Jump$tart Coalition, will be distributed to families.

Last Thursday’s “Ask the Experts” panel at CHS’s press conference consisted of Vermont State Treasurer Elizabeth Pearce, People’s United Bank Vermont President Michael Seaver, and Vermont Jump$tart Coalition President Gregg Mousley. Students posed excellent questions to the panel, inquiring about such issues as investing in stocks and bonds, establishing good credit, and long-term saving and retirement-planning strategies.

“Your opportunities—your future—is waiting for you,” said Treasurer Pearce. “The more young people are prepared for this, the greater their opportunities are.” She said that many people learn about finances through trial and error—which is obviously less than optimal, and therefore it is important to support financial literacy initiatives.

People’s United Bank’s Michael Seaver said, “We would have much better luck with our clients if they had a better base coming out of their youth,” and Jump$tart’s Gregg Mousley said, “Your financial well-being is tied to the decisions you make.” Mousley described a longitudinal study of at the University of Arizona named “Young Adults’ Financial Capability: Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students” which found that young people essentially fall into one of three major categories when it comes to attitudes and behaviors around personal finance—and that education around personal finance early on helps to encourage sounder decisions.

Fifty-seven schools around Vermont have requested copies of “How to Raise a Money-Smart Child,” which will help it to reach more than 11,000 families. The booklet is also available online through the Office of the State Treasurer’s website.

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