WASHINGTON – Today, the Obama Administration marked back to school season by emphasizing the importance of financial education and launching its National Financial Capability Challenge for the 2010-11 school year. The Challenge is a voluntary online exam and classroom toolkit that helps educators teach high school students about saving, budgeting, investing, the safe use of credit, and other important skills critical to developing strong financial knowledge and capability.
"The recent financial crisis taught us an enduring lesson. Financial literacy is essential not only to the financial security of millions of American families, but also to the economic health of our nation as a whole," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "Ensuring that young people have the skills they need to make wise financial choices today and into adulthood will help us build a stronger foundation for our nation's economic future."
"We know we have to educate our way to a better economy, and that's why President Obama has declared that by 2020, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, "We also know that a lack of financial literacy is a major roadblock on the path to college access and success for too many students. Through the Challenge, we're encouraging schools and teachers across the country to help make sure their students have the tools they need to make smart financial decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities – whether about investing in higher education, or the many other choices these young people will face."
Educators can begin registering for the Challenge today at http://www.challenge.treas.gov/. In late Fall, educators will be able to download a new and improved "Teacher Toolkit" with ready-to-use lesson plans to help teach their students about important financial concepts and prepare them for the online exam.
The online exam will take place between March 7 and April 8, 2011. Educators can administer the exam to their students at any time in that window. Educators and students who score in the top 20 percent nationally and those who are among the top scorers in their school will receive official award certificates.
More than 76,000 students and 2,500 educators in all 50 states participated in last school year's National Financial Capability Challenge. To build on that success, the Obama Administration has set a goal of increasing participation for this school year by 15 percent to over 87,000 students and 2,800 educators. Recognizing that participation previously averaged only one teacher per school, the Administration is urging each of last year's participating educators to become ambassadors for financial education and recruit additional teachers to participate.
The Obama Administration has taken a number of important steps to help empower Americans to make wise financial choices. In April 2010, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC), which the U.S. Department of the Treasury coordinates, announced the launch of its newly redesigned financial literacy education website, www.MyMoney.gov, which has already received over 17 million hits to date. Earlier this month, Treasury also announced a new pilot program to deliver financial accounts with debit card access to the unbanked and underbanked at tax time so those individuals can receive their tax refunds through direct deposit, reducing their reliance on high-cost alternative financial products, such as check-cashing and other services. And the Department of Education doubled its investment in K-12 financial literacy this year with the creation of the Financial Education for College Access and Success program.
Additionally, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that President Obama signed into law in July 2010 establishes an Office of Financial Education within the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This Office will help educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions by providing them with opportunities to access financial counseling; information to assist with the evaluation of credit products and credit histories; savings, borrowing, and other services found at mainstream financial institutions; activities intended to reduce debt, and prepare for educational expenses and other major purchases; assistance in developing long-term savings strategies; and financial services during the preparation process to claim earned income tax credits and other federal benefits.
The awards recognize individual professionals, financial planning firms, FPA chapters or organizations that contribute to the financial planning community and the public. Recipients represent FPA's core values of competence, integrity, relationships and stewardship. The following are this year's recipients:
Don Blandin, president and CEO of the nonprofit Investor Protection Trust, is being recognized for his leadership in developing the "How Can I Afford Retirement?" investor education program, as well as his close work with securities regulators, FPA chapters, and libraries across the country.
Mark Clark is being honored for his commitment to teaching financial education and L.I.F.E. skills to youth through nonprofit agencies and organizations in Northern California
Saundra Davis is receiving the award for providing high-quality pro bono financial planning to the working poor, and for volunteering thousands of hours as a key leader for the FPA of San Francisco Pro Bono Committee.
Michael Kitces, CFP, is being recognized for his commitment to education in the financial planning industry and for his work as co-founder of the FPA NexGen community of interest.
Keith Loveland is a practicing attorney in securities law and compliance and is being honored for his pro-bono and ethics work, and for his work ensuring a client-centered, ethical financial planning process.
Brent Neiser, CFP, is receiving the award for his commitment to financial literacy to educate the public in all areas of personal finance. He is director of strategic programs and alliances for the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Don Pitti, who died in December, received the award posthumously. He had dedicated years to helping advance the financial planning profession and was one of the founding members of the International Association for Financial Planning, a predecessor organization of FPA.
Karin Price Mueller is a journalist who delivers financial planning information to the public through various media outlets. Mueller co-authored financial literacy guides to educate immigrants and the underserved about how they can improve their financial situation in the U.S.
Please click on the following link to view the Federal Register Notice and National Strategy for Financial Literacy 2010: http://www.treasury.gov/offices/domestic-finance/financial-institution/fin-education/commission/
"There's no getting around many of these expenses," says Paul Golden, spokesperson for NEFE. "But parents can cut their back-to-school bills with some creativity and planning."
Start With a Plan
Jot down necessary school-related items, such as classroom supplies and after-school-care expenses, and your kids' "wants," such as an after-school rock guitar 101 class. Then, take a look at your family budget to determine the total amount you can spend. See which costs you can spread out, get rid of or at least reduce. When shopping with your kids, stick to a budget. And look for ways to help your kids learn to manage money—a skill that's essential once they head out on their own.
Expect to pay for basic classroom supplies, an up-front cost that accompanies your child's entrance into the classroom. Denver mom Jen Kittleson encourages parents to buy generic or store brands. "Take it from a teacher's wife, I wouldn't buy fancy school supplies," Kittleson says. "They usually all get put in the same community bucket."
Check newspaper circulars from now until just after school begins, as many stores run "dollar days" and other back-to-school promotions with significant markdowns. Compare local deals with what you can find online to make sure you're getting the best deal. Find out if your child's school prints a master supplies list. These usually don't vary much from one year to the next, so you can stock up year-round on items you know your kids will need—pencils, folders and glue sticks—when they go on sale.
In the NEFE/Harris survey, 61 percent of parents who plan to spend money this fall on K-12 back-to-school or education-related expenses anticipate spending the most money on clothes. First, take inventory of what your children already have. Sure, your son may want the latest style backpack. But if last year's pack still fits, consider it a lower priority. Perhaps most of your daughter's clothes still fit, so buy only a few must-have items before school starts and find others later. Accessories also can update and freshen up a stale wardrobe. After you decide what your kids need, determine what you can afford to spend before ever setting foot in the store—or hitting the purchase button online. Then, shop smart.
Give older children a budget for buying back-to-school clothes and shoes. Or, give them a stake in the game with allowance or summer job earnings to fund some of their new wardrobe. Grant younger kids choices within your budget and find opportunities to teach them about money. If your daughter is deciding between two shirts, one $10 and the other $20, explain to her that if she chooses the least-expensive shirt, she still has money left to put toward new jeans or shoes.
Look for clothes at consignment stores instead of the mall. Take any of your child's "lightly worn" castoffs to local stores for credit toward what you buy. Also, check to see if there are any neighborhood consignment events, such as "Just Between Friends" (JBF), in your area. "[The consignment shops] have a ton of kids' stuff," Kittleson says. "They inspect everything sold so the quality is good. And I like that you're reusing good clothes rather than having to buy new."
Find out if your state has an annual sales-tax holiday for back-to-school shopping at www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/sales_holiday.html. Many states exclude tax for school supplies clothing and computer purchases.
It's hard to say "no" when your kids are motivated and excited about a sport, trying a new instrument or participating in the drama club. But before you know it, you easily could spend $500 for an activity they may quickly abandon. There are ways to keep your children happy and active without overspending your budget. Ask your kids to pick their favorite activity and cut one or more of the others. Many kids are overbooked anyway, and you don't want them to burn out. Find out early what each activity requires in terms of your time and financial commitments. Will you need to bring team snacks or pay for overnight sports tournaments? Look for activities offered by the YMCA, community recreation centers and churches, which may be lower cost than commercial gyms or leagues. "My oldest daughter took gymnastics for two years at the YMCA," comments one mom on MomtoMomChat.com, an online parenting forum. Her daughter also brought in old uniforms to trade in for credit toward a new one.
Other ideas for saving on equipment include:
- Renting instead of buying an instrument until you know your child will stick with it
- Suggesting relatives pitch in to buy uniforms, or even lessons and camp dues, as a birthday or holiday gift
- Asking your friends with older kids what unused gear might be stowed in their storage room
- Scouting secondhand deals at used sporting good stores or on Craigslist
If you're making lunches at home, buy in bulk. A large bag of pretzels usually costs less than a box of small bags with the same total amount. Use reusable food containers for single portions instead of purchasing individually wrapped packages or boxes. Over the year, you'll spend less. Pack lunches with ice packs and ask your children to eat their leftovers after school before they eat other snacks at home.
Give your child a lunch allowance for the day or for the week, depending on age, or see if the school provides debit cards or accounts that can be preloaded for school lunches. Your child will learn the basics of debit use and money management, and you can keep track of his or her spending.
Transportation and After-School Care
Before classes start, determine how your child will get to and from school and after-school activities and how you will deal with sick days or cancellations due to weather. Will you drive your child to school or is your child of driving age? Make sure to budget for gas and parking fees, and try to find carpool options to reduce time on the road. Look to the bus or other forms of public transportation and if you live close, consider whether your student can bike or walk to school instead. For safety, organize a group of kids to walk or bike together.
For each child, budget a week or more of sick days and snow days each year that require you or your spouse to take off work. Or, coordinate with a neighbor, family member or day-care center that can be ready to watch your child at a moment's notice. Also, remember to account for your child's other days out of school, such as holidays, spring break and teacher in-service days.
"After you've stocked up on supplies, figured out after-school care, and decided what fun new activities your child will try this year, take these last few days of summer to talk with him or her about money," says Golden. "It's never too early to start learning—and it starts with parents."
Whether your child is taking his or her first steps into the kindergarten classroom or moving out on his or her own to start college, back-to-school time is a big deal. Visit Smart About Money (www.smartaboutmoney.org/backtoschool) for budget-saving tips on school related-spending and ideas for talking to your children about money.
Harris Interactive Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from August 4-10, 2010 among 1,016 parents of children age 17 years or younger, of which 815 are parents of children in grades K-12. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, visit
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that 19 states are the finalists for more than $3 billion available in the second round of funding in the Race to the Top program.
"Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia submitted bold blueprints for reform that bear the signatures of many key players at the state and local level who drive change in our schools," Duncan said.
EdWeek:By Erik Robelen July 16, 2010 10:45 AM
The recently developed common standards got an important green light in California yesterday.
A special California commission late last night wrapped up its work considering the new standards in mathematics and English/language arts, ultimately voting to recommend that the state adopt them—but not before putting its own imprint on them.
Your Money - NY Times: July 10: There is nothing like an inquisitive child to make you realize just how complicated the topic of money is. That’s what I ended up thinking after my 4-year-old daughter a few weeks ago stomped her feet, turned red and demanded to know why we did not own a summer house. The article: Daddy are we rich? And other tough questions.
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WASHINGTON, March 12, 2010…The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy® has selected Sheila C. Bair, Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, to receive its 2010 Federal Leadership Awards, recognizing their leadership, contributions, and long-term commitment to the financial literacy effort.
The Federal Leadership Awards, once known as the Federal Legislator Awards, will be presented at the Jump$tart Coalition’s annual awards dinner on April 14, 2010, at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel. (All award winners have been invited to attend the gala but are not confirmed as of this date.) The dinner is attended by Jump$tart Coalition partners and supporters from business and finance, associations and educational non-profit organizations, academic leaders, and federal agency leadership.