Why Promote Financial Literacy Programs for Youth?

Financial Literacy Programs for Youth

Since 2000, financial experts and policymakers in the U.S. have recognized the importance of financial literacy and teaching Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. And since 2006 the National Foundation for Credit Counseling has sponsored an annual poster contest called “Be Money Wi$e”—elementary, middle, and high school students are invited to submit poster designs centering on themes that deal with effective money management. Why has this recent focus on financial literacy programs for youth arisen?

Consider the following youth financial literacy statistics:

  • 39% of Americans still carry credit card debt month-to-month (creditcards.com).
  • Only 11% of workers under 35 years of age indicate that they currently participate in their company’s 401(k) program (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).
  • Fewer than 25% of college students and only 20% of their parents believe students are well-prepared to deal with the financial challenges they’ll face after graduation (KeyBank).
  • 62% of college graduates will carry a student loan debt averaging $27,236 (Student Monitor).
  • 76% of students wish they had more help preparing for the future (KeyBank).
  • People who have taken financial literacy education courses have a higher savings rate, greater net worth, and make larger contributions to their 401(k)s (U.S. Department of Treasury).

If these statistics don’t convince you of the need to promote financial literacy for youth, consider some of the benefits young people receive from learning personal finance skills. Not only do they move toward financial independence and security, but they also are happier, healthier, experience less stress, have better relationships, and understand the value of charitable giving, sharing, and community service. Promoting youth financial literacy programs is about much more than building wealth. Teaching kids about money benefits families, communities, and the entire global society.

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