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ICFE eNEWS #14-08 - April 7th 2014

April is Financial Literacy Month. So What?
Dan Rutherford
for ConsumerFinance.gov

Before writing this post, I did a brief survey of my colleagues to ask for their thoughts about what financial literacy means and why it is important. Here are some of the responses I got:

"A fair financial marketplace requires that consumers be informed about the products and services they are buying."

"What are you going to do when you can't work anymore? Financing your own future means you have to know how to save and how to protect that savings."

"People are more empowered when they know how to avoid being scammed. Giving people information so they can protect themselves is, to me, very important."

"When you talk about poorer populations, it's about helping them understand ways they can help themselves."

The point is, financial literacy, or financial capability is not a monolithic thing that can be applied, released, or taught in one way to one group. When we talk about the lack of financial knowledge in the United States, we tend to debate:

  • Where it should be taught - in schools or at home.
  • When it should be taught - in elementary school, high school, college, or on the job.
  • How it should be taught - in workshops, online, games, or over months of coaching sessions.
  • Who should teach it - K-12 teachers, financial professionals, money coaches, or radio and TV show hosts.

The good news is there are many right answers.

The one thing most people agree on is that it should be taught, and that it requires more than just a transfer of knowledge. For some people, it may require knowledge and building new skills - practice to build comfort and confidence. For others it may mean unlearning bad habits. And for some it could mean a change in attitude - like choosing healthy eating over double cheeseburgers.

The reason there are so many different approaches to financial education is because there are many different audiences, with many different needs, and many different ideas about good solutions.

We can debate the specifics, the methods, and the media, but there is little debate about the need. It's why we are working every day to create new partnerships, research new ideas, share best practices, and develop new materials and innovative ways to deliver them.

What can you do about it?

  • If you have kids, talk about the family budget. Encourage them to save a portion of their allowance to help them build a savings habit and learn to set, and achieve, financial goals. Ask them what they've learned in school about money, or talk to their teachers.
  • If you participate in clubs or church groups, invite a local consumer group, credit counselor or financial planner to speak. Download free CFPB publications and share them with your group. Volunteer to help others.
  • If you own a business or have the ability to make suggestions, consider a program to help employees understand more about managing their money. Start an automatic enrollment retirement plan or provide resources or referrals to help employees plan for their futures.

How can you help promote financial education? Remember, there are no wrong answers.


ICFE eNEWS is available FREE upon request by visiting the ICFE's Web site and filling out the contact form, selecting "Yes" for "Add to Mailing List." Please pass this eNEWS on to your peers and interested others and invite them to subscribe for free. Also, visit the ICFE's new Web site: StudentDebtHelp.org

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) has introduced for April 2014 a new certification course titled: Certified Young Adult Financial Specialist. It has been accepted by the CFP Board for 10 hours of continuing education credit as well as a variety of other professional organizations.

The ICFE's new CYAFS program is about teaching professionals to educate young adults. Young adults are more in need of financial education than ever before. There are more financial products and decisions to be made for their lives today and to plan for their future. The new Certified Young Adult Financial Specialist program educates trains and equips financial counselors to communicate their expertise in a way that young adults are able and willing to accept it


ICFE eNEWS is available FREE upon request by visiting our Web site and filling out the contact form, with the words "eNews request" included in the comments field. Please pass this eNEWS on to your peers and interested others and invite them to subscribe for free.

Sent by:

Paul S. Richard
President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

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