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Alan Prahl column: Financial literacy deserving of focus this month

7:37 PM, Apr. 19, 2013  |  Comments
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We live in an increasingly complex financial world. It's often challenging to manage cash flow, use credit wisely, have regular savings, and save for retirement. Recognizing this, many organizations have designated April as financial literacy month.

In 2000, the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy started promoting April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month. In 2004, the United States Senate passed a resolution that officially recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month. Money Smart Week, created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, also occurs in April.

A group of local organizations are planning financial literacy events for the Fox Cities between April 20-27. For a list of Money Smart Week Activities, visit www.moneysmartweek.org.

One of these events is a fun reading event for children called "The Big Read," which is being held April 27 at seven local libraries. Story time will feature the children's book "A Dollar for Penny." Every child who RSVPs and attends will receive a free book. To register for The Big Read, visit http://outagamie.uwex.edu/the-big-read.

As part of the Fox Cities Money Smart Week, Rachel Cruze, Dave Ramsey's daughter, is speaking twice. She is speaking at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday on "Myths Women Believe about Money" at Fox Valley Technical College. She is also speaking Tuesday evening. Both events are sold out.

Many schools in Wisconsin teach about financial concepts. Wisconsin has created "Model Academic Standards for Personal Financial Literacy" in seven broad categories. The standards are provided to help schools develop a curriculum. (http://finance.dpi.wi.gov/files/ct.)

Parents have often told me that they wished schools were doing more to teach their children about money. The good news is that many schools are teaching some of these principles in existing courses or creating a new personal finance class.

Schools can help teach personal financial literacy. Ideally, parents also think about what they want their children to know and to do. Do we want children to learn the value of saving money? With a plethora of credit choices, how will we help children learn to use credit wisely? How will we encourage children to make wise choices?

While the task may seem overwhelming, parents can help children learn core principles like our resources are limited, our emotions can affect our choices and it's good to have a spending plan or budget to guide us.

We can help children learn these principles through giving them an allowance with spending guidelines or paying them to do chores. By giving increasing responsibilities as they get older, children can learn to make money smart choices.

- Alan Prahl is with FISC (www.fisc-cccs.org) a nonprofit program of Goodwill North Central Wisconsin.

He can be reached at aprahl@fisc-cccs.org.

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