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Friday, Oct 20, 2017
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The importance of financial smarts

The Florida Credit Union Association (FCUA), an affiliate of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates (LSCU), works year-round to empower Florida students with the financial education and understanding they will need as they transition into fiscal independence and become successful contributing members of society. This month, the FCUA is especially proud to be celebrating these efforts during Financial Literacy Month, which is held every April.

By providing education on topics including money management, retirement planning, dealing with debt, and marriage and merging finances, credit unions around Florida hope to promote responsible spending and saving habits as students look to enter the workforce and beyond.

Through measures such as the National Endowment for Financial Education’s High School Planning Programs, and participating in seminars and career fairs, credit unions are able to introduce the importance of financial literacy early on to students, instilling lifelong habits.

Florida’s students must understand economics, business and finances in order to be financially savvy and comprehend investments, savings, bonds and wise spending habits. This is especially important for students who have hopes of opening their own businesses, or even holding leadership positions in the future. Financial literacy is a requirement to comprehend budgets, inventory, payroll and other aspects that come along with owning and managing a business and employees. Sustainable financial responsibility is also crucial for students who have an interest in entrepreneurship as they build their financial futures.

Although it may not be a priority for students now, irresponsible spending and bad investments in early adulthood can lead to a lifetime of bad credit, debt and the inability to take out future loans. Bad financial choices may hinder financial independence and growth. And in an age with identity theft, hackers and stolen credit card information, students must be able to identify potential scams and fraudulent activity before becoming a victim and experiencing economic damage. Young adults who are unaware of how financial situations or payments work may be more vulnerable and fall prey easier than those who are well-versed in basic credit and banking information, or may be unaware of steps to take when such possible threats occur.

We must continue to work with our youth to teach them why becoming financially solvent is important no matter what their future field is.

The FCUA also advocates on behalf of the creation of a high school financial literacy course required for graduation.

Patrick La Pine is president of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates.

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