Celebrate Money Smart Week

This week Indiana is celebrating the second annual Money Smart Week(sm), a special week designed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to aid consumers in learning how to better manage their personal finances.

Why the need for a special week to talk solely about money and finances? A survey recently completed by Networks Financial Institute in Indianapolis found that less than 30 percent of U.S. adults view their personal financial knowledge as very good or better. In a separate survey, only 26 percent of parents with children five or older felt prepared enough to teach their kids about basic personal finances. Money is an issue that needs to be addressed today – not put off until tomorrow, and that is what Money Smart Week aims to do.

Traditionally, education has been focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic, but there is more to life than just the three R’s we learn in school.

After just a few years in school, children understand why birds migrate south in the winter, but they are less knowledgeable on why they need an allowance or how much money it takes for their family to put dinner on the table each night. Middle school students learn how to divide, multiply, and chart simple graphs, but most of them do not understand the basic concept of saving. By the end of high school, a majority of students can write elaborate essays about Shakespeare and American history, but have not been taught how to create a personal budget required for basic, real-world survival.

The reality is no one hands you or your children a financial guidebook for life. Indiana’s educational system does not require teaching students the basics of personal finance. Few young adults today are prepared to handle important decisions involving money, and even more are finding themselves in a load of debt.

An example I often share when I speak throughout our state is savings in China compared to that in the United States. The personal saving rate in China is about 30 percent, whereas in the United States, it is has dipped into negative numbers. Americans need to learn to save their money. In both 2005 and 2006, Americans spent more than they earned, and they charged the remainder.

Learning how to manage your money and protect your investments is a vital part of one’s personal education, and the younger individuals learn to manage and save their money, the better financially prepared they will be to maintain the type of lifestyle they desire.

More than eight out of ten U.S. adults think it is important that financial literacy be taught. Take advantage of Money Smart Week, and look for local events taking place this weekend in your community. Nearly 100 separate presentations will be taking place throughout Indiana helping Hoosiers learn how to better manage their personal finances. Presentations will be lead by local community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations, and financial experts.

Financial literacy should be part of a lifelong education for Hoosiers of all ages, and I hope my office, through our Indiana Investment Watch program and Money Smart Week, can play an instrumental role in helping all of us become more aware of our personal finances.

Additional information on Indiana Investment Watch can be found at http://www.indianainvestmentwatch.com/, and additional information on Indiana’s second annual Money Smart Week can be found at http://www.moneysmartweek.org/.

Money Smart Week is an unregistered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.