Financial Literacy for Youth Month

By Dr. Bernice Wilso

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, the state of Alabama ranks number five nationally for households filing for personal bankruptcy. Across the nation debt is increasing and savings are decreasing. To bring awareness to rising household debt and the decrease in personal savings, the United States Senate proposed Resolution #48 to observe April as Financial Literacy Youth Month.

Studies indicate that the average student who graduates from high school lacks the basic skills to manage personal financial matters. Through partnership agencies, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) is forming a coalition to help rectify the existing problem. To help students obtain the financial skills to make that transition from childhood to adulthood easier, the coalition will advocate teaching financial literacy to students and create a clearinghouse of financial literacy education resources for Alabama citizens.

The ACES' Urban Affairs unit will become an active participant with this coalition. The coalition's mission is to help identify problems that confront the financially illiterate, thus improve financial literacy for youth and other Alabama citizens. Students are at a disadvantage without adequate financial skills. They need an understanding of the basic rules that govern the use of money and credit. These rules are essential to achieving American dreams such as owning a home and financing an education.

Additionally, just having to prepare for a financially secure future should be of concern to young adults. Students need to become cognizant that the earlier the financial skills process begins, the better off they will be. This is why Urban Affairs is moving ahead to help students develop their financial skills early in life by encouraging them to participate in LifeSmarts. "LifeSmarts, the ultimate consumer challenge," is a fun and interactive educational tool used by schools, youth groups, and organizations across the nation. This program teaches teens in grades 9-12 to be smart and responsible consumers. Personal finance is one of LifeSmarts focus areas.

Visit Alabama's LifeSmarts Web site today at to learn more about what is happening in financial education for Alabama youth.

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Page was last updated:
April 23 2003

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